Today the Winter Vigil bed welcomed its first residents. Bushfire survivor, Jane Smyth, Big Issue vendor and Big hART film participant, Deb Bult, and former Canberra Times cartoonist, Geoff Pryor all tucked in to help raise awareness for the homeless in Canberra.
Robyn Archer claims she was moved by Jane Smyth’s story to create the Winter Vigil Bed.
“When bushfire survivor Jane Smyth said at the very beginning of our Centenary year, at the Bushfire Memorial service in January, that the survivors wanted to give a focus to ‘homelessness’ in Canberra, I was very moved: this was such a generous gesture springing from their own sense of homelessness at that devastating time,” said Ms Archer.
“I thought immediately of the company Big hART who have been resident at the Canberra Theatre Centre for the last three years and have brought us some wonderful shows such as Namatjira, and most recently Hipbone Sticking Out. They were part of my first National Festival of Australian Theatre 20 years ago, and for my Melbourne Festival they did a great project Knot at Home about homelessness,” said Ms Archer.
“I’m so pleased that Big hART agreed to work on this project about homelessness in Canberra. Like many things, it is an aspect of the capital that many people would not recognise, and in our bid this year to understand the city better, the Winter Bed Vigil not only draws attention to the fact of homelessness in Canberra, but the humanity of a city which shares such challenges with all other cities.
“I’ll be taking up my shift in the bed, and I encourage as many as possible of all of you to do likewise, and to come into Civic Square to learn a bit more about this ongoing concern and maybe find out ways in which you can help,” Robyn said
The bed will be occupied around the clock from 2pm Thursday until 12pm Sunday. At the foot of the bed will be a flat screen TV featuring short films made by local filmmakers in collaboration with people in the community who have experienced homelessness as well as content developed by Big hART over the ten year period since their first Bed Vigil in the Melbourne Arts Festival in 2004.