When the Governor launched the Restart The Arts with Government House initiative in July 2020 as a lifeline to WA performers during COVID times, no-one could truly predict how essential a program it would be.
Fast forward nine months to March 2021 and the figures speak for themselves.
Since July 1 2020, Restart The Arts has seen 105 activities, involving 36 different organisations and individuals, take place in the Government House Ballroom, with the venue opened up free of charge to all kinds of local artists from singers and musicians to orchestras, documentary makers, dance classes, concert bands, opera, actors and poets.
Even more unexpected was the reach – in just nine months over 10,000 people have either attended or taken part in a Restart The Arts event at Government House – and with many of the artists being supported by tickets sales, this has been an important lifeline for their continued survival.
Professional, semi-professional or emerging – the initiative has been open to a variety of acts just like West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) students who were able to use the Ballroom to perform for the first time to broader audiences.
Student Hannah Th’ng who helped pull together their group’s ‘Liszt By Candlelight’ performance – a sell out event dedicated to the works of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt – has described Restart The Arts as an ‘important stepping stone’ for their careers.
“We are so grateful for the ‘Restart The Arts with Government House’ initiative that allowed four of us to come together and perform. It gave us to confidence to look at putting on future concerts and has meant so much to us as young musicians,” said Hannah. “The audience was mainly made up of patrons who hadn’t heard us before. They all loved the Ballroom setting and concert and were asking for more.”
“From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to say thank you.”
Singer Simone Craddock is used to big stages and even bigger audiences, having been based in London for two decades and touring across Europe. She returned to Perth in 2019 and found herself caught up in the COVID fallout that has impacted so many on the world’s arts scene.
“Last year was tough for everyone. We were told that to save loved ones, we must stay away from them. Some of us were told that in order to save lives, we must sacrifice our livelihood. With a good deal of trepidation, we did what needed to be done and WA has emerged from this challenge triumphant,” said Simone
“The Governor and his wonderful wife Ms Annus totally understood the impact lockdown was having on the Arts Community. When you take away someone’s work, you don’t just take away their income, you take away their sense of self worth and meaning. The Governor’s “Restart the Arts” initiative has given us an opportunity to generate some of the income we lost during the lockdowns, but has also given us back our raison d’être.”
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to perform at Government House and to share the experience with our community, some of whom had never seen this majestic architectural jewel before!”
“I have loved every moment performing in the beautiful Government House Ballroom and feel so lucky to have met this generous couple who contribute so much to our community.”
Simone performed a number of shows in the Government House Ballroom, including the most recent ‘Nina, Love Simone’ this past weekend where she teamed up with brilliant local pianist Adrian Galante. The pair were joined earlier this year by musician Adam Hall for a tribute to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in their very popular show ‘Ella & Louis’.
Adam has also performed under the Restart The Arts at Government House initiative with his band ‘The Velvet Playboys’, wowing all ages with their ‘The Music Of Disney’ shows a few weeks ago. He says the Restart The Arts at Government House initiative has been a huge plus to local artists.
“What a treat it is to perform in the Government House Ballroom. The atmosphere created by this space really gave our band an opportunity to create something really special and the Restart The Arts package enabled us to charge very reasonable entry prices so many more audience members could afford to come. A magical experience all around. We also had the opportunity to perform out in the gardens and give a little jazz afternoon tea, that was a special occasion to wander through the surrounds of the gardens and interact with patrons and give them the jazz feeling up close.” said Adam.
For the Governor and Ms Annus the success of Restart The Arts has exceeded even their expectations, thrilled that Government House could be well used to support such an important section of the WA community.
“I’ve never been more proud of the way in which we can use the property here than the last nine months of Restart The Arts,” said the Governor.
“We were very conscious that very few musicians and performers had any form of protection in circumstances where there was no contractual work. They needed to be able to keep going, to record, to rehearse, to find an audience. Restart The Arts allowed them to keep their skills up and keep their contact with the public and their audiences, in which they thrive. It has been enormously worthwhile.”
The next few months will see a temporary hiatus in Restart The Arts events as the Government House Ballroom shuts down for some roof restoration.
“Unfortunately we will be without the ballroom until later this year, but we do expect at the end of that to open up again and continue to do everything we can to support our valuable arts community once again.” the Governor said.