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A Homegrown Festival

The original Darwin Festival – known then as the Bougainvillea Festival – was inspired by Top Ender’s knack for optimism, determination and local love.

By Anna Dowd

40 years and one global pandemic later, the same qualities are in full swing as Darwin Festival gears up for 11 days of art, food and NT flavoured fun next month.

Artistic Director Felix Preval says, just as it brought Darwin together post Cyclone Tracy in ‘79, the 2020 Festival program is shaping up to be the ultimate pick-me-up.

“When we realised this year would be almost entirely local artists, we saw it as a real silver lining,” Preval says.

“The thing that has always driven Darwin Festival is the community engagement, and the Territory hassuch an incredible pool of talent, as well as this amazing ability to celebrate where we live.

“So we’re excited to have a program that really speaks to those ideas about community and place, intimacy and resilience in this particularly unique time.”

Come August, we can look forward to the full range of performance and visual arts offerings the Festival is famous for.

“It’s obviously a bit smaller, but packed with live music concerts, comedy, beautiful dance and theatre works, as well as reimagined versions of traditional highlights, like the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the National Indigenous Music Awards.”

True to the Festival’s community engagement roots, a large-scale school engagement project, Fly Me Up to Where You Are by artist Tiffany Singh, remains in the program, a hopeful nod to the path ahead.

“We are hoping to engage 5000 school-aged children to create their own dream flags, imagining their future and finding ways to symbolise their hopes and aspirations for that future,” says Preval.

The flags will be hung throughout the city during the Festival in 2021, that NT knack for optimism made visible on the streets.

While the Darwin Festival folk have had to adapt, Preval says it was important to imagine the iconic event going ahead.

“We didn’t cancel the Festival in that first wave like a number of other events around the country. We felt optimistic about going ahead, even if we didn’t know exactly what it would look like.”

Watch this space as the full program is dropped this month. Bring on August!

DF20 Homegrown Program Launch

DF20 Homegrown

Photo: Festival Park by Elise Derwin

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