NAFA returns with a COVID-safe edition

Busby Marou will return to Townsville for NAFA COVID Safe IMAGE: Supplied

Townsville’s premier arts and cultural festival is back for a special COVID-safe edition next month.

This year’s reimagined North Australian Festival of the Arts (NAFA) will include new twists on old favourites including the Wonderland Spiegeltent, plenty of art workshops and a globally-renowned art exhibition.

Acts already announced include musicians Busby Marou and Russell Morris, circus act Knee Deep and all-male cabaret Club Briefs.

NAFA COVID Safe will be delivered by Townsville City Council, with support from Queensland Government, for small crowd numbers across various sites to activate the local events and tourism industry, celebrate the arts, reconnect communities and assist in the city’s economic recovery.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said NAFA COVID Safe would add to the buzz generated by the Supercars doubleheader and the Horn v Tszyu fight, which will attract visitors from across Queensland.

“Our hospitality and tourism industries have struggled with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, so having these events in the city is a real boost for our hoteliers, restauranteurs, and tourism operators.

“NAFA COVID Safe will only add to the momentum, bringing visitors from across the state into our city to enjoy a selection of arts and culture across five weeks.”

Community and Cultural Development Committee chairperson, Ann-Maree Greaney, said NAFA was an extremely important part of the fabric of the local arts community.

“Townsville is the arts capital of Northern Australia, and we want to celebrate that despite the setbacks that the COVID-19 pandemic has foisted on the arts sector,” Cr Greaney said.

“Supporting the local arts community during this difficult time is important, and there’s no better way to do that than to hold NAFA COVID Safe. This reimagined version of NAFA will give Townsville a reason to celebrate safely after a stressful start to the year.

“It’s important that everybody who attends NAFA COVID Safe sticks to the rules, continues to physically distance from others, and practices good hygiene. We’re all in this together, so we all need to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Cr Greaney said this year’s program would include modified versions of festival favourites.

“The Wonderland Spiegeltent team has reconceptualised its approach to embrace being COVID-safe and will transform Strand Park into the open-air spectacle Wonderland Under the Stars,” she said.

“NAFA COVID Safe will also include the new event Art in the Park, which will combine facilitated art workshops with live performances.” 

Cr Greaney said she was proud to announce that NAFA would be presenting an internationally renowned multimedia exhibition, Beauty Rich and Rare.

“I am very excited that Townsville will host Beauty Rich and Rare, an exhibition which has just been shown at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History,” she said.

Beauty Rich and Rare recreates the wonder experienced by Joseph Banks and the botanists, scientists, and illustrators who travelled on the HMB Endeavour from England to Australia 250 years ago.”

NAFA COVID Safe will run from 18 September to 25 October.

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