‘Tiny festival’ keeps music alive

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Liz Jack performs at the Denmark Festival of Voice.
Camera IconLiz Jack performs at the Denmark Festival of Voice.

Music festivals across the nation have been cancelled due to COVID-19, but the Great Southern’s Denmark Festival of Voice has found a way to push on.

The festival went ahead over the WA Day long weekend, and although it was on a smaller scale than usual, the big ideas were still there.

It is believed to be one of the first in-person live music held in WA since the onset of the pandemic.

Organisers said they hoped to start a new movement — called the Tiny Festival Movement — with their decision to go ahead.

“We were feeling so sad. The town’s not the same without a festival this weekend,” artistic director Vivienne Robertson said.

“And it’s so hard for musicians at the moment, with no gigs, so I spontaneously thought ‘well, why not? Let’s create a Tiny Festival’.

“I felt we were in a quite special moment and wanted to mark this moment. We’d been in isolation and were starting to emerge.

“That can be a fragile time for people and I wanted to help pave a smooth and intimate, but safe, way for people to emerge.”

The festival was pulled together in just three days, with 12 performances, workshops and storytelling events taking place in the Denmark area with crowds of up to 20 people.

The Festival of Voice would typically attract more than 3000 people and up to 700 performers, including school acts.

Robertson said she hoped other festival and event organisers took inspiration from the tiny festival.

“I felt the moment for smaller online festivals was passing, that restrictions would be eased very soon, and that there was a really sweet window to stage something which spoke to the period of emergence from the lockdown times we’d been in,” she said.

“Emergence from a period of isolation can be a delicate time, and I felt it would be lovely for both performers and the community to have a way to emerge which was playful, safe, connected to community, and intimate.

“Restrictions are being lifted now, so I think it was a moment in time that’s perhaps already going, but I do think the smaller gatherings have a lot of merit.”

Local artists Liz Jack, Myles Mitchell, Adam Grok, the Denmark Storytellers, Dave Rastrick Trio, and Blue Tongue Lizzard were some of the names to host an intimate show.

Robertson said every act — from musicians to storytellers to workshop presenters — had spoken about how excited they were to be performing again.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails