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A Year on DEC

There’s no denying it – 2020 has thrown us all one heck of a curve ball. The performing arts industry has been impacted significantly by the pandemic, with the sudden cancellation of events hurting performers, production workers and front of house staff across the board. But this particular story is a happy story.

Darwin Entertainment Centre was shaping up to deliver its best year on record, a wonderful mix of local, interstate and international acts set to entertain across a diverse range of genres. But between March and June, 48 contracted events were cancelled with little warning.

With an unwavering sense of community at its very core, the DEC team chipped away to progress behind-the-scenes strategic work. DEC Acting General Manager Coryn Huddy says this move meant they could bounce back when restrictions were lifted, with a focus on local.

“The one silver lining to come out of the pandemic is that local performances have taken centre stage,” he says.

“With the touring market effectively non-existent, space and time opened up for us to work directly with local artists in a far greater capacity. It has been so invigorating and exciting for our team to pursue this opportunity.”

In Motion was specifically developed in response to the pandemic, showcasing the work of, and providing an income for, local creatives spanning a wide range of talents. In fact, all revenue generated from ticket sales went directly into the pockets the performers – crucial income, with many not fitting the mould for income support due to the ad-hoc nature of show biz.

The new ESCALATE musical workshop development initiative saw three artists receive invaluable mentoring from Toni Childs and Kuya James. Since reopening, DEC has been able to deliver 75 performances, 60 of which were created by locals, for locals – from the beating drums of Chung Wah Society to the sprightly dance of SLIDE Youth Dance Theatre to the storytelling, music and laughter of Constantina Bush.

And if that wasn’t enough, the committed DEC team also undertook a brand review, keen to implement an identity inline with their philosophy.

“Our identity and narrative has been changing as our business has progressed. As we assessed our position in the market and what is important to the community, it became very obvious to us that we are far more than just a hall for hire,” Huddy says.

“We curate, create and connect, providing voice to meaningful things and do this through shared experiences. Our new brand reflects our position moving forward.”

So, what does the next 12 months look like at DEC?

“When I look into the crystal ball for 2021 and Darwin Entertainment Centre, I’m not 100 percent sure what I see – if anyone does, please call me!” he says.

“What I do know is that we are 100% committed to working for you, the community, our stakeholders and performers, to ensure arts and entertainment continues to contribute to the ongoing vitality of this wonderful place we call home.”


NT Dance Company, In Motion. Photo: Helen Orr
Chung Wah Society, In Motion. Photo: Helen Orr
Jahquavis, ESCALATE. Photo: Helen Orr

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