We’ve needed all our resilience and strength to get through the bushfires and the pandemic. And now it’s time to RISE together in Canberra, to recover and grow.
The RISE Canberra Calendar was launched on 26 May and has already attracted a substantial following: it’s an aggregation of all the events and ideas that you can safely enjoy here in the national capital, from COVIDsafe walking tours to Dragon Dance lessons so you stay connected and engaged with your community.
RISE is an acronym for recovery from emergencies (Response, Immediate support, Sustainability and Emergence) and the whole idea is a fast COVID-19 pivot from the winter festivals and ideas that were happily being planned only months ago.
Carmela Pavlic Searle and her production team at Events ACT have had to move fast to make this all happen.
“When COVID-19 happened, we could see that events and arts sectors were hit quickly and hard straight up”, she says. “They were the most heavily impacted early on”.
Events ACT started talking to the arts and events industry about what was most useful, quickly discovering how complex the situation was for the creative industries.
“People who could transition online found themselves in competition with international artists live-streaming for free”, Carmela says. Others needed ways to transition their business plans and help to stay afloat in a startling new world, while makers, in general, needed a way to communicate what they were creating and delivering.
“We also felt strongly that the community really needed the benefits that events could deliver”, Carmela says, reflecting on the importance of creativity in building community spirit during tough times.
RISE Canberra was born, a wholly local calendar of events and ideas that focuses on the region’s own makers, creators and events. It’s designed to do more than list events by creating an interactive guide that you can tailor to your own needs, with articles, podcasts and a strongly personalised approach.
There are also suggested itineraries.
This week, for example, you could focus on looking, reflecting and collecting memories in Canberra through activities as diverse as portraiture making with the National Portrait Gallery; Stories from Solitude (a mix of folktales, personal stories, poetry and even pub banter); a discussion with Ngambri/Ngunnawal/Wiradjuri elder Dr Matilda House about her portrait in the 2020 National Photographic Portrait Prize; and a journey into astrophysics with the ANU’s James Beattie as he explains everyday phenomena from the perspective of jiggling atoms.
“Events provide us with a way of staying connected in difficult times, but that sense of surprise and discovery can be hard to foster online, so we had to respond inventively with how we built this”, Carmela says.
“We are building the plane as we’re flying it, but one of the wonderful things from COVID-19 is the sense of people coming together who may not have done so in the past, for the greater good. There is a lot of goodwill and support”.
The site is designed so it’s easy to navigate and full of information. It’s been tagged so you can search by interest, whether that’s family activities, learning or outside activities and Carmela says functionality has been the priority that meets the needs of the sector and the community.
Not everything is online, enabling people with limited internet access to find events that will suit them, too.
There is also an on-demand section and regular news updates along with the calendar listings, and the RISE team is hoping that artists will also nominate their events and plans for the calendar.
“We are extraordinarily proud of getting RISE together”, Carmela says.
“This needs to to be something that helps the sector survive. We’ve all been proud to work on something focused on helping the community and the arts and events sectors. We really think this will work.”