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Arts & Culture

WOMADelaide is working to present a full-scale festival in 2021

Arts & Culture

SA-based Arts Projects Australia has announced the appointment of a new co-director, as it works towards presenting a full-scale version of its flagship event WOMADelaide in Botanic Park from March 5-8 next year.

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APA co-founder and longtime director Ian Scobie – who has now been joined at the helm by experienced arts producer Lee Cumberlidge, of Insite Arts – told InDaily this morning that the first program announcement for the 2021 WOMADelaide would be made in late November.

“We’re working to present a full-scale festival next March; that’s our ambition,” he said.

“Clearly things can change … if there’s a major spike [in COVID-19 cases], then nothing can happen anywhere, but our sense is that by March next year circumstances should have advanced and improved to an extent that we can do that.”

Scobie said WOMADelaide was speaking with the SA Department of Health about how it could present the festival safely, with changes being considered to create more open space around the park and open up entrance areas.

Delaying the first program announcement by around a month would give festival organisers more time to assess the situation regarding international travel. If necessary, the bulk of the performers could be from Australia and places such as New Zealand.

However, Scobie said the program would still feature “the diversity of cultural and musical work that our audiences have come to know and expect of the festival, so it will very much still look and feel like WOMADelaide”.

Arts Projects Australia was formed in Adelaide in 1997. As well as being the event manager and producer of WOMADelaide, it also delivers the international program for WOMAD New Zealand and presents a range of other arts projects and tours such as the Fire Gardens spectacular that was part of this year’s Adelaide Festival.

Scobie, who has been sole director since around 2000, said the appointment of Cumberlidge as co-director would enable APA to broaden its scope – including through the creation and presentation of more Australian work – and also to plan for more projects outside of SA’s busy festivals period.

Cumberlidge is the principal and founding director of Insite Arts, which produces events such as Hobart’s MONA FOMA summer festival, and previously worked with APA in Adelaide and Melbourne from 1999-2008. He is also founder and co-owner of in. Studio + Café in Pirie Street.

Although COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of APA tours planned for 2020 and into 2021, Scobie said they would be looking to the future.

“Working together will enable us to look out more broadly and laterally and do other things… it’s great to have fresh minds and different ways of doing things. Given the age of the company, it seemed a good time to look at regeneration.”

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