Eight years ago the inaugural Bleach* Festival heralded a new era for Gold Coast culture.
The 2019 program is set the take the event to new heights; to engage and delight record numbers of residents and visitors to the city. The festival’s founder, Artistic Director and CEO, Louise Bezzina reflects on how far Bleach* has come and where it’s headed.
While Bleach* initially focused on the southern suburbs of the region, it has grown both artistically and geographically to become a festival for the whole Gold Coast. It has evolved significantly each year through its artistic program, audience numbers and the ambition of organisers to push the boundaries of contemporary performance and surpass expectations.
“It started as a really humble project for the Southern Gold Coast and it has now emerged as the major city Festival that makes new contemporary work, which goes on to tour the country after life on the Gold Coast. I feel the festival has evolved as the city has evolved,” Louise reflects.
With site-specific performances in the most unexpected places – in parks, on beaches and even in the very waterways – Bleach* truly taps in to our sense of place and our city’s unique identity. There’s no doubt the festival has had a powerful and positive effect on the Gold Coast’s cultural development and Louise has observed numerous benefits for our city.
“Bleach has been responsible for commissioning more than 50 world premieres with more than 85% featuring local artists.”
“This was completely unheard of for the Gold Coast before the Festival was created and we are deeply committed to the local cultural sector, not just through making but through professional development and collaboration with artists from across the country and internationally.
“We now have a range of small companies and independent artists receiving ongoing funding from the City as well as the development of HOTA. This is largely due to the support that the City provides to Arts and Culture and commitment it has made to growing that arts scene. The food culture is amazing and there are so many more professional artists working and living on the Coast. This all contributes to a great city that has a vibrant, full offering for the citizens of the Gold Coast and Bleach is a big part of that fabric.”
In a huge accomplishment for Bleach* and Gold Coast contemporary dance company, The Farm, their performance of Tide at the 2018 festival recently won a Helpmann Award – a prestigious national award recognising distinguished artistic achievement. This speaks volumes about just how much of an impact the festival has made.
“Winning this was a bit of a game changer for not just Bleach and The Farm but for the Gold Coast and the City,” says Louise.
“This was a first for the Gold Coast and the only award won this year by a Queensland company. These kinds of moments really help drive the narrative that the Gold Coast is changing and that the City has so much to offer outside of the out-dated stereotypes.”
Next year Bleach* will continue to challenge perceptions about what Gold Coast culture is in the wake of the Commonwealth Games.
“The last few years have been very much about the lead up to and then the delivery of the Commonwealth Games,” says Louise.
“This narrative has now changed and we are now moving into the next era for Bleach*. As the city grows and moves so should the Festival and the program that I have curated reflects this. There are big moments paired with intimate boutique style programs… but all will be revealed in early 2019!”
Whilst anticipation is high, the major event for 2019’s program has been announced – a large-scale outdoor performance of Verdi’s Requiem at HOTA, Home of the Arts. The opera will feature over 140 performers from the Opera Queensland Chorus and the Queensland Conservatorium Orchestra. It will show for one night only on Saturday 27 April and will be the first concert of this size to take place at HOTA.
“The Gold Coast has a great love of the grand spectacle and incredible music. This is why I invited Opera Queensland to create such a special music experience for our Festival and City,” says Louise.
“Verdi’s Requiem provides the perfect score for a powerful moment in time, taking the Requiem as a symbol of new beginnings for the City and the Festival. This will be our centrepiece production and this music is an invitation to gather and look within ourselves as the music invites us to reflect and have hope. I am thrilled that this will be part of the program and that we can present this on the gorgeous outdoor stage at HOTA.”
Tickets for Verdi’s Requiem, Saturday 27 April at HOTA’s Outdoor Stage go on sale to the general public 1 November. Bleach and HOTA subscribers receive an exclusive ticket offer on 25 October.