Meet Be_Hear/Now, the new festival celebrating Ballarat’s rich music and arts culture

Meet Be_Hear/Now, the new festival celebrating Ballarat’s rich music and arts culture

Freya Hollick
Words By Tammy Walters

Across three consecutive Fridays, the festival will broadcast gigs from a Ballarat bowling alley, bacon factory and iconic inner-city motel.

What do a bacon factory, a motel and a bowling alley have in common? There’s no punch-line, but these obscure locations are set to be the host venues for an epic new regional music festival. A transformation is underway in some of Ballarat’s most iconic buildings that will see three consecutive Fridays of entertainment take place from venues you never thought possible.

Be_Hear/Now is the latest immersive event from The City of Ballarat bringing a hyper-local music program of live music, spoken word performances and art experiences to the likes of the George Farmer & Co Building, Mid City Motor Inn and Oz Tenpin Bowling.

The intension of the event is to celebrate Ballarat’s unique heritage and rich music and arts culture, while connecting people again through shared experiences. Artists will come together for live performances, punters will be able to watch immersive, dynamic livestream gigs, and Ballarat locals can embark on a trip down memory lane as stories are shared about the history of the buildings.

“What I do love about the venues is that when I’ve mentioned them to people, most people have a story associated with that building because they are such a big part of the town … So it’s been nice to stir up some reminiscing with people,” says Be_Hear/Now festival director Kate Berry.

“They are so integrally Ballarat these spaces but not necessarily places that people would think is the obvious choice for hosting an event or live music. The George Farmers building, the Mid City Inn and the bowling alley have been really important parts of Ballarat’s culture but I think they have maybe been forgotten about as well so it’s nice to shine a light on these spaces again. It’s more about celebrating what is here and for people to appreciate what’s in their backyard.”

Unfortunately due to our dear friend COVID-19, Be_Hear/Now will operate as a mostly virtual event in a livestream format, yet there will be a unique twist to the typical online viewings.

“Because this event will be predominantly viewed by people watching it livestreamed, I wanted it to be in spaces that were visually engaging and beautiful instead of just watching a band on a stage. A lot of the livestream experiences I watch make me sad that it’s not what it used to be, and I’m missing out,” Berry explains.

“Watching a livestream on a stage makes you think, ‘I want to be there with my friends’, whereas I tried to make this something enjoyable to watch for what it is, rather than a lesser version of what we had.”

“We’ll be shooting it as if you’re walking through the building. The performers will actually be in different parts of the building so you’ll move through the building during the livestream and be taken to different beautiful spaces. It’s very dynamic and immersive.”

That dynamic element also extends to the all-local lineup of musicians, artists, dancers and performers. The George Farmer & Co Building will see The Narcoleptor, Inka, Geoffrey Williams Loop Choir, Alison Shirley, Steve Smart and DJ Sugar Sphinx appear on Friday November 13.

Freya Hollick will be joined by her band to perform at the Mid City Motor Inn on Friday November 20, while The Dead Salesmen Duo, City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band, Malë Kël Loc Kël and DJ Corey Issac will also be there. In the festival’s final week, the likes of Honey Hunter, The Devil Goat String Family Band, Ruben Riley Band, Hip Hop Existence, Bronwyn Blaiklock, Elektra-lite and DJ Ramdaddy will be rolling into Oz Tenpin Bowling on Friday November 27.

“What we wanted to do was make sure it was a diverse mix, not only of gender and ethnicity but also artists that are more established and emerging and then [also the] genre of music. We also have spoken word and dance so we wanted to really represent the arts and music in Ballarat in a really holistic way,” Berry says.

“I’m really excited that people in Ballarat will be able to see their hometown in a way they haven’t before but also get to know local artists as well that they may not have heard of. It’s quite cool to bring a bunch of diverse artists together for these events.”

Be_Hear/Now goes down on Fridays November 13, 20 and 27 from 7pm. It will be streaming live via the festival website

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