THE year is almost gone, the perfect ocasion to bring out the calculator and sum the applauses, the tickets sold, the songs sung and the shows completed, to give out the inaugural Ovation Awards.
Bragging rights is all that's on offer, but in a place like the Northern Rivers that's more than enough for this year's winners:
- Entertainer of the Year: Brunswick Picture House
The Brunswick Picture House is the brainchild of world cabaret icons Chris Chen and Brett Haylock.
They didn't just purchase the old Picture House and open its doors.
They made it into a powerhouse of entertainment for all ages.
From Bunny Racket, the Bangalow rocking children's character, to Kyogle resident and iconic former Les Girls performer Stan Munro, the Picture House stage has seen it all.
Chen and Haylock, plus a small team of showbiz professionals such as Guy Kable and Carolyn Patamisi, have created a space that's hosted in less than a year some of the Byron Film Festival, children's films, environmental documentaries, cult film nights, children's shows, the monthly Cheeky Cabaret and the jewel in the Brunswick crown, Club Swizzle.
After two formidable shows in Brunswick Heads, Club Swizzle and its cast of Australian an internationsl stars, landed in the Sydney Opera House where the show is selling like hotcakes after fantastic reviews.
A special day party on January 1 with iconic DJ Stephen Allkins (Love Tattoo) on the decks, and then a children's show by cabaret performer Tessa Waters.
Arts Person of the Year: Peter Wood
The Executive Director of Arts Northern Rivers could have easily complained of having such a busy year just watching what is going on around the region and helping up-and-coming artists make their projects a reality.
But Peter Woods set himself up for a big challenge this year: he wanted to make halls talk. He did and has taken no credit for it.
If These Halls Could Talk was a project that looked lovely in paper, but the final outcome has surprised and reinvigorated not just arts, but whole local communities.
Again, Wood had behind him a small but cohesive group of professionals getting things done, but in this case the community fell in love with the vision and came up with amazing results.
The Channon, Broadwater and Rilleys Hill, Merschaum Vale, Eatonsville, Eureka, Bonalbo and Tumbulgum became centres of artistic and community movement.
NORPA's beautiful theatre piece Dreamland was one of the final results of that excercise, Bonalbo had its film project: Bonnywood Rising, and The Channon invited Crag Walsh to create a live arts performance and Spaghetti Circus, Joey Ruigrok van der Werven and Roundabout Theatre created a birthday party for Broadwater and Riley's Hall. All final artworks were not just great, but loved by their communities.
Between September and last week, the halls became searchlights of creativity, fountains of community in a true excecise of art and social commentary.
Festival of the Year: Bluesfest 2016
Peter Noble OAM and his team know how to organise a great festival.
Trying to list all the stars and new amazing artists this team of locals bring to our shores is not easy task.
This year, legends such as Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue plus The Wailers were outstanding.
But perhaps the second later of arttistic wealth we derive from Bluesfest each year is the rich tapestry of emerging artists picked by Peter Noble, Rusty Thorpe and the rest of the team: Rhiannon Giddens, Con Brio, Fantastic Negrito, The Bros. Landreth, Vintage Trouble and St. Paul and The Broken Bones are only some of the future music icons we discovered this year.
Event of the Year: Nudge Nudge Wink Wink
Any group of people that is able to fundraise more than $20,000 for local charities deserve recognition, but what the team behind Cunning Stunts has done is create one of the most chilled, inclusive, cool, festive and safe events in the Northern Rivers this year.
Every month between Spring and Autumn, 'Nudgers' congregate at the Billinudgel Hotel for an afternoon and evening of house, disco, soul, funk and electronica free of charge.
Volunteers sell raffle tickets and prizes are donated by local businesses. The parties are pet and family friendly.
Sarah and Darren Sutton (aka Lord Sut), Dale Stephen (aka DJ Brevil) and Laura Peck have done a great job.
In the Shadows: Clare McGregor
She can be found at music festivals, NORPA gigs, among writers or local bands, this publicist will be there making media's work easier and more fun.
Thanks for reading and see you next year!