Arts Ablaze festival will put Scenic Rim on the map, says mayor

SCENIC Rim Regional Council hosted Queensland's biggest ever regional arts conference and celebration at Kooralbyn last week.

Arts Ablaze opened last Wednesday with a smoking ceremony and welcome to country by Mununjali Ngari and Aunty Dell Paulson.

The region's rich Indigenous heritage was celebrated by elders and community members who travelled from Yarrabah, Townsville, Blackall, Woorabinda and the Torres Strait to share their culture with the first nations people of the Scenic Rim and the wider community.

Scenic Rim Councillor Michael Enright and federal member for Wright Scott Buchholz welcomed the conference delegates and arts workers to the landmark event in the cultural life of the region at the conference opening ceremony.

The evening featured performances by Opera Eagles Nest and the Music Doctors.

Mayor Greg Christensen said as this was the first Regional Arts gathering to be held in Queensland since 2013, he was sure it had placed the Scenic Rim firmly on the cultural map.

"Arts Ablaze was much more than an arts conference - it was about creating connections between people and place, which was reflected in its strong Indigenous theme and celebration of arts and culture that brought our community together," Cr Christensen said.

"I am sure that the arts practitioners and conference delegates, many of whom travelled many days and hundreds of kilometres to be here, have found new creative inspiration in our spectacular scenery and natural environment."

The three-day conference was followed by two full days of community celebration featuring free family fun, workshops, food trucks, artisan markets, poetry readings and story-telling, art installations and a variety of performances and entertainment.

The Goat Track Theatre presented their Birds of a Feather performance with actors portraying a variety of native birds.

For those who could not make the drive out to Kooralbyn, watch parties were held all over the country as the event was live streamed to art galleries and CQU campuses in places including Biloela, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Noosa, Rockhampton, Townsville, Brisbane and Sydney.

Saturday night saw the much anticipated performance by artists-in-residence musicians - well worth the wait for all who witnessed the results of months of effort put in by band members from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

The band included Jarred Fogarty, Andrew Vievers, Tenzin Choegal, John Reeves, Kacey Patrick, Rebecca Karlen and Rafael Karlen.

Earlier in the evening two acts were scrapped after a local dance group went over their allotted time.

Young Bloods member Nadia Leone said she and fellow performers Michaella Stubbs and Cormack Finn were disappointed after driving from Brisbane just to perform.

"We were excited to perform at Arts Ablaze, especially since our songs are about political and cultural history," Ms Leone said.

"We are bringing out a record early next year and we were looking forward to singing some of it at Kooralbyn."

Also knocked off the schedule due to time constraints was singer Robbie West.

Artisan workshops included bamboo flute making, basketry, blacksmithing, clay portraiture, eco dyeing, gourd art, didgeridoo making, puppet making, jewellery revamping and silversmithing.

"Arts Ablaze had something to ignite creativity in everyone and has helped transform our perspectives of art and culture," Cr Christensen said.