Shanty festival organisers sing praises of Arc Infrastructure, Albany Entertainment Centre as key event saved

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The Albany Shantymen at the Fairbridge Festival, 2021.
Camera IconThe Albany Shantymen at the Fairbridge Festival, 2021. Credit: Karen Timmins

Albany International Folk ‘N’ Shanty Festival organisers are singing the praises of Arc Infrastructure and the Albany Entertainment Centre after one of the festival’s marquee events was saved at the last minute.

The three-day shanty festival — the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere — starts tonight with sessions at pubs and licenced venues across Albany.

Groups have travelled from across Australia to sing at the festival, which will also feature international acts live-streamed into venues.

One of the main attractions was a six-hour marathon shanty session due to be held near the Brig Amity at the Museum of the Great Southern from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

The Albany Shantymen.
Camera IconThe Albany Shantymen. Credit: Karen Timmins

Ten groups, including hometown heroes The Albany Shantymen, were scheduled to perform near the Brig Amity.

However festival organiser Gary Greenwald said that yesterday, the museum was notified that Arc Infrastructure would be carrying out major railway maintenance works outside the museum on Saturday.

The late-notice scheduling clash put the event in jeopardy.

“They let the museum know yesterday that they’re ripping up the track and laying new track using huge machinery, and closing the road next to the museum,” Mr Greenwald said.

“It was very obvious that a distance of 25m was not going to be enough for that sort of sound to disappear.”

Concerned one of their key events was falling apart, festival organisers contacted the Albany Entertainment Centre to see if they could pull off a last-minute venue change.

The Albany Shantymen.
Camera IconThe Albany Shantymen.

The biggest hurdles were that AEC staff would need to come into work over the weekend on short-notice — and festival organisers would need to find about $1500 to use the venue.

That was money they did not have.

Luckily, Arc Infrastructure came to the party.

“We went to Arc Infrastructure and we told them we don’t have the money to do this, but we can still get a good result if you can help us and pay for it,” Mr Greenwald said.

“It was just one of those things where someone forgot to tell the museum about it until yesterday so we only had a day’s notice. But they did the right thing and I think it’s really good of them to help us out.”

View from the top of Albany's Hilton Garden Inn.
Camera IconView from the top of Albany's Hilton Garden Inn. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

With rain expected in Albany tomorrow, Mr Greenwald — founder of The Albany Shantymen — said things might have worked out for the best in the end.

“The weather’s supposed to be foul tomorrow and we couldn’t have afforded the entertainment centre by ourselves,” he said.

“So in a funny sort of way, the universe might have done us a favour.

“It’s useful insight into what goes into running events as community volunteers, any way. You just have to roll with these things, otherwise you wouldn’t do it.

“A huge thank you to the museum too, because they’ve been massive supporters of the festival since we first started talking about it — and a huge thank you to the Albany Entertainment Centre and the staff who are coming in on their weekend.”

For a full program, visit shantyfest.com.

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