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Arts event is full of surprises

05 Dec 2013

Arts event is full of surprises Image

By Shane Scanlan
Waterways-based art event 5 Short Blasts is surprising in many ways.

A lone trombonist playing a sad tune in the cold dawn light from the former port control tower for the benefit of the 20 passengers passing below in a flotilla of five small boats is a surprise.

So too, are the girls performing on shore with co-ordinated semaphore flags.  

The technical sophistication of the experience is surprising – the event uses radio and internet technologies to broadcast the soundtrack of what is essentially an oral history of Docklands.

Listening to the personal stories of people involved in our waterways in an otherwise silent port is an immersive and moving experience.

And another surprise is the cost of the event.  At $400 worth of City of Melbourne funding per head, it is indeed a privilege to be among the 500 people who will experience the event from the water.

The event runs over 12 days between November 22 and December 15, with two trips on each day leaving from and returning to Docklands.

The artists themselves, Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, received about 20 per cent of the $200,000 council budget (the Port of Melbourne is understood to have also contributed funding) with the rest being spent on labour and infrastructure.

Ms Flynn and Mr Humphrey say they intend to purchase the infrastructure from the council should the event show commercial promise.

The City of Melbourne’s arts and culture portfolio chair, Cr Rohan Leppert, said he considered the exercise value for money.  

He said the community involvement in preparing the project was at least as important as the experience of those who were taken on one of the organised tours.

It was particularly gratifying that the project had contributed to community building in Docklands and had also positively introduced Docklands to Melbourne’s artists.

A council spokesperson said: “Over a two year period, artists and community members have been researching the history of Docklands and the Port of Melbourne.”

“Through live recorded interviews, artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey have developed a sound-scape of people whose lives revolve around thxe waterfront.”

“The budget for this project was $200,000. 
The complex and intricate project involved over 150 community members. Over 500 people will experience the project first hand and many more people can experience the project online, through live streaming or via the 5 Short Blasts radio station http://www.5shortblasts.com.au.”

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