Woodleigh Arts Festival 2020: apART

Where to begin?

From a year in which the industry that is the very focus of this festival has suffered such incredible change and loss, to massive ups and downs that followed, it is with great pride that Woodleigh could continue the longstanding tradition of its Arts Festival.

Watch the 'apART' 2020 Woodleigh Arts Festival Showcase

The nature of COVID-19 has meant that the fundamental fibres of how we engage with and consume ‘art’ have undergone significant change. Entire sectors of this community and industry have ground to a halt across this year – many with a future beyond uncertain. 

And still, we were able to produce something.
And still, we were able to promote and showcase student talent.
And still, we were able to invite our community to explore the joys and challenges that the arts provide. 

We were able.

We were not particularly comfort-ABLE…but still; the socially distanced format of the festival allowed us to show off the skills and expertise of many of our Year 12 painters, designers, directors, musicians, and thespians. It was brought to the community at large through our first streamed broadcast of our Woodleigh Arts Showcase, which topped Sunday night television ratings. From commentary on artistic intentions with senior students to pre-recorded performances to insightful interviews from some of our up and coming artists, this was an event that allowed Woodleigh to bring the arts to the people of its community. 

Click the above image to view the Year 12 Studio Art and Visual Communication Folios

With only our senior students and Year 7s on-site during Arts Week 2020, and with no capacity to have any audience gatherings in large numbers, streamed performances and workshops became the flavours of the week. We had a live and thought-provoking performance from the indigenous author and storyteller Monty Boori Pryor, as well as a tutorial workshop on the art of paste-ups from Larissa MacFarlane – a Footscray-based artist and disability activist. 

Our library of streamed performances came to the fantastic cyberpunk circus show, ‘Barbaroi,’ produced by After Dark Theatre and recorded live at Adelaide Fringe in March 2020. We also were entreated to a customised musical recording and show from renowned multi-instrumentalist Adam Page. These online concerts can never replace the thrill and excitement of engaging with a live setting performance, but they were a reasonable substitute for our Zoom-based world.

The evenings throughout Arts Week provided some options for a modified Life Drawing class presented through the Life Models Society as well as an intellectual discussion about the challenges facing what it means to be an artist in the time of COVID through our inaugural Q&A event, ‘This is where we find ourselves!’ with guest panellists: Mark Dickinson, Larissa MacFarlane, Emily Goddard, Andrew Aronowicz, and former student, Tara Minton. 

As it always does, the week culminated with the Woodleigh Film Festival that showcases the Year 12 Media films from 2020. Once more, the fact these students were able to create and produce anything in the chaos and separations of this year is a testament to their creativity and perseverance. 

With any luck, 2021 will provide us with better opportunities to present an arts festival with some more of the life injected back into it, namely, the people—the live audience. However, we are guaranteed to find a way to deliver our promise to provide a platform for our creative apprentices. 

We are able. 

Acting VCE Coordinator. Senior Homestead Tutor