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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 21 November 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2015 15 ivide with art THE TRANSITION BETWEEN SELF AND COMMUNITY Aside from art exhibitions and street performance, music and dance are also a big part of the festival. Factory Reset features a dance crew made up of hip hop dancers, one of whom is Melbourne-based freestyle dancer Angela Baklis. The crew are taking hip hop to a theatre space, with original music and visual material inspired by the history of Footscray. "We've delved into the history of Footscray, an area that was quite industrial; over time fluxes of different cultures came in - how they developed their own businesses and how people came to be in the area," Baklis explains. The musical genre is seen as a way of bringing together young people on the margins of society to explore the transition from the familiar to the creation of something new. "We also based it on our own experiences and what it's like to go into a new place or a new experience, and transition into a culture and create your own. We decided to use that concept through dance," she explains. And with 2015 marking the 10th Big West Festival, this year's event will culminate in a big street party. While the festival has always held a significant place on the event calendar, as the west gains momentum, there's no denying its increasing popularity. In 2013 more than 78,000 engaged with the program, a notable increase from the 39,000 in 2011. "I think the reach of this festival is bigger than it's ever been before," says Ferguson, who is directing the festival for the second time since coming on board in 2013. "We received a record number of submissions ... 95 in total, which is maybe three times what we've received before!" With a background in community planning and the arts, the artistic director says she was attracted to Big West based on its emphasis on ethics. "I'm really attracted to positions that have a strong sense of social justice and seek to create a social impact, as well as a high level of high quality artistic impact," she says. While the core costs of the festival are covered by funding, it's no easy task to secure, with work going on continuously over two years. Aside from the week-long event, Ferguson and her team run talks and even have their own outreach community program catering to Melbourne's outer-western suburbs. But above all, the artistic director says the main aim of the event is to be fully accessible, transcending all barriers, An image from the exhibition ‘Celebration’ by artist Greg Giannis. PHOTO: BIG WEST FESTIVAL. which is why over 80 per cent of the programmed events are free of charge. "That's what I think art should be; it should be all around us, all the time, and in some ways I think it's something people should always aspire to do - to create a space where people can be in the images and messages that people create, reflecting life back to the people that live in this area," she says. "I love this immersion in place, where the contemporary experience can be crafted back to back. If you are immersed in your place, and you're honest and authentic around the meaning of it and experience of it, it really does speak to the broader world." To view Big West Festival's full program and exhibition and performance times, visit www.bigwest.com.au FEATURE Factory Reset. PHOTO: BIG WEST FESTIVAL.
28 November 2015