An organisational review recommending a refreshed remit for Ten Days on the Island Ten Days on the Island led to me joining the festival in 2018. The review proposed the festival re-imagine its original regional Pan-Tasmanian focus and priorities, including Tasmanian innovation and the development of work by local artists within an international festival context. To amplify these priorities, Ten Days relocated its operations from Hobart to the coastal/industrial city of Burnie (population 20,000) in the North-West of the state.
This physical move, which surprised many observers, proved to be strategically effective. Away from the city the Festival found a new voice, edge and focus with site-specific and landscape/place-based performance, socially engaged practice, the development of new performance work, landscape-oriented practice and unique Tasmanian/global collaborations. International works were selected to complement, resonate with, and amplify the impact of locally made work.
In 2019 we evolved the festival model from 10 consecutive days to an “epic adventure” spread over three action packed weekend programs, (North West, North East and South). each eith its own character while staying true to the Ten Days ethos. Program highlights included the World Premier of Kate Mulvaney’s play The Mares, Lior and Nigel Westlake’s Compassion with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and two site-specific works: Big hArt’s Acoustic Life of Sheds and the first mapali – Dawn Gathering on Devonport beach.
The anxieties and constraints of border closures and Covid audience limitations became strengths in our hyper-local 2021 Festival, which celebrated Ten Days’ 20th year with intimate epic experiences and Tasmanian creativity in our island-wide project If These Halls Could Talk. Leonard’s Beautiful Pictures in Zeehan’s Gaiety Theatre featured Dean Stevenson’s music bringing historical black and white films sparklingly into our time, Rummin Films’ beautiful No I in Island animation project capturing the voices and fears and dreams of the Tasmanian community in isolation. Tasdance created a new work in Rowella Hall, Archipelago brought Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis to tiny spaces across the north of Tasmania, as did Van Diemen’s Band in St Helens, and visual artist Julie Gough in Ross.
In 2023, my third and final festival, we could stretch our wings again, to connect global artists with Australian and Tasmanian artists, stories and landscapes. Vividly animated the festival theme of Radical Optimism, highlights included Archipelago’s Women of Troy, Dancenorth’s RED; Strong female artists featured, like Joanna Dudley’s We Will Slam You With Our Wings, Van Diemen’s Band’s Heroines, Lisa Reihana’s spectacular Trans-Tasman video triptych Nomads of the Sea and the unforgettable sight of her octopus creation Te Wheke A Muturangi relaxing under Kunanyi Mount Wellington in Kangaroo Bay. Welsh dance trio Qwerin enchanted audiences around the island. Tasmanian music-lovers enjoyed many treats from Kronos Quartet on their final Australian tour to TSO’s magnificent Faure Requiem. A highlight in Hobart was our Festival Hub at the Theatre Royal. Ending with the event that began my first festival Mapali Sunset Gathering set on the river in Devonport, was our finale, and my last festival moment with Ten Days on the Island.
Culture, music, storytelling, dance and image-making have been practiced on Country for millennia by Australia's First People. I acknowledge and pay respect to the original custodians of Culture and Country where I live in Tathra, the Djiringanj people of the Yuin Nation on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, and the palawa/pakana, First People of lutruwita Tasmania.