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Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 10:35PM
Denise Smithson

By Denise Smithson

Torontoist summed it up right when they wrote: “There is something undeniably joyous about a massive red ball. One that eases itself into unexpected public places is rather impossible to resist.”

And so it has been appearing around Albany, Western Australia, this weekend as part of the Great Southern program of the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF).

The irresistible RedBall snuck into the Albany Town Hall where it attracted lots of attention. People photographed it, touched it and tried to bounce against its slick, soft surface.

This award-winning project from New York artist Kurt Perschke certainly has a way of transforming cities into an unexpected canvas of possibilities.

The RedBall is just one example of why I love PIAF – you just never know what you might experience!

Now in its tenth year, the Great Southern Festival offers world-class arts events in a region renowned for breathtaking landscapes and award-winning food and wine.

I remember when Great Southern festival director Rod Vervest first revealed that PIAF was supporting a regional festival – as the then Albany Advertiser arts journalist and  later the newspaper’s editor, I got right behind this fantastic opportunity to bring arts, of all shapes and forms, to the forefront of public debate.

Today, according to the current artistic director Jonathan Halloway, almost 50 per cent of the population engage with the Great Southern festival – that’s an impressive statistic.

But even amid such success, we must not become complacent - the more we make it our festival through sponsorship and support, the more we show ourselves to be culturally sophisticated and switched on to contemporary society.

It’s great to hear people discuss what they have seen; whether a play was challenging or fun, or their impressions of an exhibition – what is important is that we have that dialogue going on where we discuss and listen to other’s opinions.

The arts is big business and a vital part of a healthy community.

The region has an incredible pool of talented artistic people; it would be great that they continue to call the Great Southern home while still enjoying a professionally satisfying career with lots of opportunities like those the festival offers.

We need to continue to foster and nurture all that is creative in our community – wherever that may be - because the benefits are many and far-reaching.

Enjoy the festival!

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