The art of keeping communities connected

5-minute read
To help keep artists and their audiences connected during these physically distanced times, nbn is partnering with Sydney Festival to take the arts to the people.

They entertain us. They move us. Shock, awe and inspire us.

They’re the hearts, minds and talent behind the songs, the dancing, the acting. Paint expressed on canvas, the words on which to tread the boards, notes behind the rhythm and riffs…

When it comes to Australia’s arts and creative scene, the ideas, mediums and participants are as exciting and varied as the great continent on which we all live.

Yet, like so many industries, it’s one that’s been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic usually contributing an estimated $111.7 billion each year to the Australian economy.

With venues forced to close to help stop the virus’ spread, and small through to major events cancelled as crowds were no longer able to gather to celebrate a collective interest, those working in the arts have faced a tough time.

A glimmer of hope online

During the dark days of the pandemic, when light at the end of the lockdown tunnel still seemed a long way off, a glimmer of hope emerged as artists and venues turned to technology to help maintain a connection to their audiences.

According to the Australia Council for the Arts, “many artists and arts organisations have pivoted to digital content to attract audiences, including streaming live performances, creating virtual galleries and delivering online classes and tutorials.”

During the pandemic, access to fast and reliable broadband* has played an important role in helping artists reach new audiences with 37 per cent of Australians accessing online arts and culture activities more frequently than before, and 67 per cent of those saying they will continue to do so after the pandemic.**

live-streaming-performance-singing-phone

And while the experience of watching from the couch may not be quite as thrilling as the hum of a packed stadium or can-hear-a-pin-drop gallery, online experiences have been lapped up by arts-starved audiences eager to experience their favourite artists and support the struggling scene.

It’s in this spirit that nbn has chosen to proudly partner with Sydney Festival, to take one of its headline acts on a digital tour of Australia.

On tour with Sydney Festival

Since 1977, Sydney Festival has presented ‘bold and memorable experiences that ignite, unite, and excite the city of Sydney’.

Now, with nbn named as Sydney Festival’s first-ever Regional Partner, it’s set to ignite, unite and excite even further afield.

Five locations in regional Australia will soon be revealed as the coveted stops for upcoming screenings of a recorded performance of Sydney Festival’s presentation of “Spirit: a retrospective 2021” by Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Two dancers from Bangarra Dance Theatre performing “Spirit: a retrospective 2021” during Toronto tour
“Spirit: a retrospective 2021” by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Image: Lisa Tomasetti

With its mission to create inspiring experiences that change society, Bangarra is one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies.

Now in its 31st year, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation draws on more than 65,000 years of culture to deliver its signature brand of “powerful dancing, distinctive theatrical voice and utterly unique soundscapes, music and design”.

Ensemble of dancers from Bangarra Dance Theatre performing “Spirit: a retrospective 2021” during Toronto tour
“Spirit: a retrospective 2021” by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Image: Lisa Tomasetti

We’ll also host an ‘up close and personal’ online Q&A session with Wesley Enoch AM, Director at Sydney Festival, exploring Indigenous arts and culture in a digital context and discussing the role digitisation can play in helping creators connect with new audiences.

“We are proud to partner with the Sydney Festival and look forward to the new ways that digital connectivity, made possible by the nbn™ network, will help support the arts industry, artists and audiences to create closer, more collaborative and innovative experiences in the future,” says Stephen Rue, Chief Executive Officer at nbn

“Whether it is connecting family and friends, businesses with customers, or artists with new audiences, the nbn™ network is here to support the nation’s digital connectivity needs.”

“We are proud to partner with the Sydney Festival and look forward to the new ways that digital connectivity, made possible by the nbn™ network, will help support the arts industry..."

Stephen Rue, Chief Executive Officer at nbn

Wesley is similarly enthusiastic about working with nbn on the digital tour.

“We’re excited to partner with nbn to help Australians access and enjoy amazing creative content, at a time when traditional avenues of audience engagement are being challenged.

“Despite the impact of COVID-19, this is a terrific opportunity to work together and support the recovery of the sector, collaborate with our artists and find new ways to provide communities across Australia with access to rich creative content.” 

wesley-enoch-photo-by-cassandra-hannagan
Wesley Enoch AM, Director at Sydney Festival. Image: Cassandra Hannagan

"... this is a terrific opportunity to work together and support the recovery of the sector, collaborate with our artists and find new ways to provide communities across Australia with access to rich creative content.” 

Wesley Enoch AM, Director at Sydney Festival

Supporting the creative sector

Recognising the important role connectivity can play in supporting the creative sector, nbn’s partnership with Sydney Festival is the first of several planned initiatives.

nbn will help creators expand their reach to find new audiences across the country, and develop innovative concepts and business models that take advantage of digital platforms.

Our work will include investing in festivals and events across Australia to help connect audiences with the creative content and cultural performances they love.  

One of our nbn™ Road Muster Trucks.

It follows extensive engagement with key industry partners and stakeholders to understand how the nbn™ network can best help to support the sector.

Initiatives will include:

  • Pop-up events – like our upcoming Sydney Festival digital tour – in smaller Australian towns, screening high-quality performing arts acts to audiences often unable to attend major metropolitan events.
  • An Indigenous Arts Centre and Asset Enablement Program – ensuring connectivity for all Indigenous Arts Centres, and raising awareness about the options available to enhance and enable a strong and prosperous digital reach.
  • Innovate with nbnGrants Program – helping creators to innovate, collaborate and find new ways to bring their creative ideas to life through digital platforms.
  • The Arts & Culture Muster Truck Roadshow – taking curated arts content to some of Australia’s most remote locations in nbn™ Road Muster Trucks.

*Your experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ broadband access network, depends on your nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to your premises, whether you are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside of nbn’s control (like your equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how your provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Satellite end customers may also experience latency.

** Patternmakers Fact Sheet: Online engagement

Header image: Wesley Enoch AM, Director at Sydney Festival. Image: Cassandra Hannagan