A celebration of Canadian music in Tasmania

Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Theatre, pictured with Consul General MacDonald

Tasmania’s celebrated festival, Ten Days on the Island, once again highlighted island life with a lively menu of Canadian artists and performers mainly from Canada’s east coast. The Consulate General of Canada in Sydney has long collaborated with this unique event that reaches communities across Australia’s island state and remains a primary vehicle for Canadian engagement with Tasmania. 

Ashley MacIsaac makes music with Quinn Banchand

Newfoundland Director Jillian Keiley, pictured far right with the Consul General and Tasmanian playwright Stella Kent

To kick things off, fiddling sensation Ashley MacIsaac, together with Vancouver Island’s guitar prodigy Quinn Banchand, had crowds dancing in the street on opening night in Hobart, the state capital of Tasmania.

In Tasmania’s “second city” of Launceston, the Newfoundland contingent to Ten Days made a lasting impact.  In a follow-up to her successful 2005 participation (with the highly acclaimed Tempting Provenance), Newfoundland Director Jillian Keiley steered the Tasmanian Theatre Company in a world premiere performance of a historical piece entitled Poxed, which traces the story of smallpox vaccination in the early 19th century through one woman’s courage.  This Canadian-Australian collaboration has garnered critical acclaim and continues to tour.

Further north, in the rural logging community of Scottsdale, a delegation from Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Theatre were sharing their stories of island life with Launceston’s Second Storey Youth Theatre in The Youth Theatre Island Exchange Project.  This initiative, supported in part by DFAIT’s Understanding Canada, empowered the artists and voices of the future with a truly unique international education exchange.  The Tasmanian youth plan to travel to Newfoundland for the follow-up Canadian leg of the project.    

Ten Days on the Island also provided an opportunity to showcase Canadian visual arts innovation. Montreal’s Daniel Barrow presented a manual animation project, while the Shorelines exhibition in Burnie presented the work of Newfoundland and Irish artists. Canadian dance and writing connections were also included in Ten Days’ program, via the participation of writers from Prince Edward Island and Dance Marathon, which originated at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

Also in Tasmania, the extraordinary Museum of  Old and New Art has adapted Canadian technology from Montreal-based IT company Purelink into its’ interactive gallery guide. This world first is enabling visitors to the gallery to explore the collection in new ways, with sophisticated follow-up and tracking capabilities to enrich the experience for the visitor and also provide valuable visitor information feedback to the museum.

Ten Days on the Island was a marvelous success.

Over in Canada, wider Australian opportunities for Canadian musicians were underlined through Australian participation at the East Coast Music Week in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Seven Australian industry representatives and two Australian musicians attended and demonstrated their commitment to grow a strong touring corridor between Canada and Australia. 

When it comes to making music, Canada and Australia continue to sing in perfect harmony.