Thursday, 24 September 2020
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Festival surpasses expectations … “amazing in adversity”

Months of worries about changing regulations for gatherings …

Months of strategising about ways to bring an indoor festival event to the people if the doors had to remain closed …

Months where there was only one certainty for the organisers … the 2020 Boonah Arts Festival would be staged to celebrate the work, skills and talent of the artists … come what may.

And the determination of the organisers, the Boonah Cultural Foundation, was rewarded.

“We were simply astounded by the success,” says Lacey Sawtell.

“I know it’s a bit hackneyed to say ‘this was the best one yet’ but really it was. 

“There was so much wonderful support - behind the scenes and from the guests at each event - we had the best response, it was as if everyone was determined to support and enjoy the Festival.”

The culminating event, the Fashion and Art Awards on Saturday night seem to magnify the atmosphere that had pervaded throughout the week long festival of the arts.

“It was a sell out,” Lacey said. 

“We had limited seating due to the social distancing restrictions but everyone who was able to come through the door seemed to be so happy to be there - it was a happy, happy night.

“The atmosphere in that room had to be experienced to truly understand just how rewarding it was to be part of the organising committee.”

The Awards night however had more than a few hiccoughs.

The program had to be changed a number of times during the day to accommodate some of the hurdles that sprang up, one of which was the illness of the MC.

Kodi Sawtell took on the role and won the praise of Mayor Greg Christensen for the professional way she managed her last minute role.

With Kodi at the lectern, someone was needed to fill in for the costumes she had been charged with modelling and Tiah Churchward stepped in and carried it off with aplomb.

Photographer, Heather Wehl, who annually records all the events for the Foundation was unwell too and Lydia Gibson stepped in without hesitation.

“So many last minute changes had to be made and every time, someone stepped up and the problem just disappeared,” Lacey said.

“The whole festival was like that - everything surpassed our expectation.”

And the numbers back the claim.

There was more than a 400 percent increase in the numbers of people who took time to view the artworks on display at the Cultural Centre during the week.

“People came from Ipswich, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast as well as lots of locals and as a consequence we sold more art on behalf of the artists than we have ever before by a huge margin,” Lacey said.

“It was a Festival of surprises all round - from the increase in number of entries, the leap in quality of entries, the response to the new Sip and Paint event, the rush of ideas on what we could do next year and the tremendous support from volunteers and visitors - it truly was the most satisfying event to be part of.”