“Pride March is going to be the biggest yet,” predicts Margie Fischer, Feast Festival producer and a member of the Pride March Committee.
“There are more entries of groups than there have ever been.”
They include the SA Police, Metropolitan Fire Service, SA Ambulance Service, YES Equality, headspace, Queer Youth, Pink Parents South Australia, Rainbow Crows, Rugby Union SA, Scouts SA, AGL Energy, Australia Post and the Australian Education Union.
Hundreds of individuals will also join the march, which begins at 6.30pm on Saturday at Light Square and ends in Victoria Square. Afterwards, the Feast Festival official opening night party kicks off on Hyde Street, heralding the start of a two-week program of live performance, visual art, film and community events.
Feast is held annually in November, so it is coincidental that this year’s festival is taking place at the same time as the same-sex marriage postal survey result announcement, which is due next Wednesday.
“The timing is really good – I think it’s about affirming the community,” Fischer says.
“It means that when the result comes out, it will come out in the middle of Feast, which will be cause for celebration.
“I just can’t believe that it won’t be a Yes … even if it isn’t, one way or another it’s really great to have it within a festival because it brings people together [in a supportive environment].”
Feast is celebrating its 21st birthday this year, and Fischer has been involved with the festival since its inception, serving at various times as artistic director and chair of the board.
This year, she is the event’s producer, overseeing a program which is twice as big as that of last year.
Like the Adelaide Fringe, the festival is open-access (open to any artists and events that wish to register), but Fischer has worked with an artistic advisory committee and a community and health advisory committee to ensure there is a mixture of events across the two weeks.
She says the model of the festival has also changed this year, with Feast itself producing only two events: the Opening Night Street Party and the Picnic in the Park at Pinky Flat on the closing weekend.
“My job was to maximise support for artists, prioritising South Australian artists, and also Feast is promoting the artists within the festival rather than just its own events.”
Fischer acknowledges that, “just like any other festival”, Feast has faced challenges over the years – including in 2016, when she says it was “not as in touch with its roots with artists and the community”.
There have also been financial pressures, including following an ambitious move to create a festival hub in Light Square for Feast 2012 that proved problematic when bad weather deterred patrons.
Now, however, Feast has a permanent home at Raj House in Hyde Street, which will host a number of this month’s festival events – including an exhibition exploring the history of 21 years of Feast, which was curated by Jackie Wurm.
Other 2017 Feast venues include the Nexus Theatre at the Lion Arts Centre, Venue 63 in Light Square and OZ Nightclub in Gouger Street.
Asked whether it has become easier or more difficult to put on an LGBTIQ festival than it was 21 years ago, Fischer says: “It’s always a joy when there’s more queer culture, so no, it hasn’t got harder in terms of the diversity of what’s out there, it’s just got more marvellous.
“And in terms of people coming to Feast, the audiences are not shrinking, they’re growing.
“My main message at the moment is that Feast is a fantastic festival, it’s inclusive of everybody, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback about the program this year, but now people have to buy a ticket… it won’t exist if people don’t go.
“Artists need people to support them by coming to their work.”
Highlights of the 2017 Feast Festival program include:
Opening Night Street Party (November 11, Hyde Street): With two bars, food, live music including Electric Fields and the Bec Gollan Trio, plus DJ MumDad.
Diamonds Are For Trevor (November 10-11, Her Majesty’s Theatre): A two-act show featuring cabaret artist Trevor Ashley and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra performing hits by Shirley Bassey.
#NoFilter (November 17-24, Venue 63): A show using mixed-media, physical theatre and live music to delve into issues of gender, sexuality and mental illness.
Film Feast (November 14-22, Raj House): A program of short films from around the world illuminating “what it means to be queer right now”.
The Dykeside (November 24-25, Raj House): Touring comedy show featuring Adelaide’s Lori Bell alongside Melbourne comedians Bobby Macumber and Selina Jenkins.
Socks & Birkenstocks (November 25, Holy Rollers Studio, Prospect): A queer music fest with a line-up including Kelly Menhennett, Alison Coppe and Annie Siegmann.
The Duetaholics (November 23-25, Nexus Arts): Featuring unlikely newlyweds Dean Arcuri and Miz Ima Starr “reinventing the wedding reception as the ultimate gay celebration of song”.
Picnic in the Park (November 26, Pinky Flat): A community picnic with stalls, food, bars, live music, DJs, a kids’ zone and other events.
There is also a range of Queer Conversations, including “Tackling Diversity in the AFL”, “Creative Housing Conversations” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Ask a Sex Worker”. See the full Feast Festival program here.
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