Western audiences see the Flipside of pandemic isolation

Leading Queensland tour facilitator ArTour has teamed up with the state’s largest youth arts company Flipside Circus to get its community youth engagement program back on the road for western Queenslanders.

Oct 06, 2020, updated Oct 06, 2020
Participants take part in a Flipside Circus workshop. (Photo: Supplied)

Participants take part in a Flipside Circus workshop. (Photo: Supplied)

Flipside Circus’s tailored program of youth workshops kicked off its tour of 10 western Queensland communities last month and has already visited Charters Towers, Julia Creek, Winton, Boulia, Barcoo and Quilpie.

The tour hits Tambo and Blackall this week, before wrapping up with a training program and performance at Longreach Civic and Cultural Centre next Monday and Tuesday.

ArTour’s producer Laura Bonner said she was grateful to be playing a part in delivering meaningful cultural engagement to regional and remote western Queensland communities for the first time since March.

“I think those communities are feeling extra isolated than normal, they have their normal community isolation then 2020 has thrown an extra layer on top,” Bonner told InQueensland.

Bonner said setting up a western Queensland regional touring circuit had made the exercise a financially viable proposition.

“Setting up that circuit has worked so effectively because it makes it more economical, because costs are divided up amongst councils, rather than one person being stuck with a hefty fee,” she said.

“We can divide up the cost, we can divide and conquer the regions and the towns and we can just widen people’s experiences and just make it accessible.”

Flipside Circus chief executive and creative director Robert Kronk said the all-abilities workshops were specifically tailored for individual communities and were suitable for young people aged two to 18.

“Flipside Circus trainers will help children learn new circus skills and give them a chance to show off a new trick or talent, be it hula-hooping, juggling, acro-balance, tumbling or even trapeze,” Kronk said.

“More than that, these workshops will challenge children to work as a team, build their self-confidence and increase their skill and fitness levels.”

Bonner agreed, and said the skills young people learn at the workshops could prove invaluable later in life.

“We’re preparing children and youth for jobs that don’t exist yet,” she said. “They’re predicting that the number one most- sought-after skill in the future will be creativity.

“Being able to grow those skills in children and keep them playing, moving, creating, problem solving is going to be so beneficial for them for future work once they become adults, and they’re working a future world that is so unpredictable.”

Bonner said participants and audience members alike were impressed with the results of the training workshops and subsequent public perforamances

“I think the kids themselves are surprised at what they can do,” she said. “We get feedback from the children and youth who join in, saying ‘I never knew I was even capable of that’, so I think they surprise themselves, let alone the audience.”

Bonner said she was hopeful the success of the western Queensland touring model would lead to opportunities to create similar regional touring networks elsewhere around the state.

“We’re really focusing on trying to get the western Queensland circuit out into the public eye a little bit more. It’s a great model that we hope to bring into the northern Queensland and southern Queensland regions to show that you can have these smaller circuits and if the towns are all are receiving the same shows, and the same products, it’s far more sustainable and economical to get out into those regions.”

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