Portland arts festival funding boost

MAJOR community arts projects will continue to be a central feature of Portland’s annual Upwelling Festival thanks to an injection of federal funds. 

Upwelling Festival arts projects co-ordinator Susie Lyons said the festival was thrilled to receive $77,674 from the Australia Council for the Arts to support arts projects for the next three years.

Ms Lyons said planning for the first festival arts project was already under way with Warrnambool artist Francis van der Mark returning to work with the Portland community on the SHIPSHAPE project. 

SHIPSHAPE will create portable sails and marine life sculptures that will come together in the festival’s street parade.

After the parade, the artwork will be installed as a backdrop for the main festival site. 

Designs will be drawn on silk, which will be dyed then stretched over cane structures. 

Different groups will make separate elements that, when brought together for the parade, will create one large piece in the form of a ship with sails, a ship’s body and flags. 

Ms Lyons said the arts projects would provide “a guaranteed WOW factor” for the festival each year.

“We see the street parade as a major platform for community participation and already all Portland schools have signed up to participate in SHIPSHAPE,” she said. 

The Upwelling Festival is one of only three recipients Australia-wide to receive the three-year funding agreement. 

Workshops for SHIPSHAPE will be held in Portland in the month leading up to this year’s festival, to be held on November 1. 

In its sixth year, the festival is based on the theme of the Bonney Upwelling and is managed by the Portland Bay Rotary Club. The Bonney Upwelling is an epic natural ocean occurrence that sweeps nutrients up from the ocean powers from November to May to support a feeding frenzy involving tuna, crayfish, giant crabs, squid, fish, seabirds, seals, krill and blue whales. 

The upwelling is at its greatest off the coast of Portland and is the cornerstone of the city’s lucrative local fishing and tourism industry. 

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