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Generations will be Drawn Together for QPAC seniors event

Culture

Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Council on the Ageing are joining forces to draw audiences of all ages together for a curated online event to kick off Queensland Seniors Week on Saturday.

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Drawn Together, which will stream on QPAC’s website from 10.30am on Saturday morning, will include hosted conversations over morning tea and a variety of performances recorded in the venue’s Concert Hall and venues in Cairns and Townsville.

Funded by the State Government, the free 40-minute event will be hosted by QPAC’s Scholar in Residence Professor Judith McLean, with guests including Dame Quentin Bryce (and her 10-year-old grandson Charlie), QPAC Elder in Residence Aunty Colleen Wall (and her granddaughter Josephine, 9), musician David Williams (and his daughter Lily, 5) and artist Fez Fa’anana, and discussion topics ranging from light-hearted to serious.

The conversation will be interspersed with performances and interviews by Queensland artists including western classical and traditional Asian fusion-ensemble JADE New World Collective, Babushka Cabaret, tap-dancing troupe The Brat Pack Tappers, Cairns indie-folk artist Greta Stanley and Townsville musical theatre performer Sarah Murr.

Rebecca Lamoin, QPAC’s director of public engagement and learning, said a lot of effort had gone into curating a diverse program with broad appeal “that wasn’t just a stereotypical version of what people think old people will like”.

“Just like any other kind of demographic, older people not a homogenous group either,” Lamoin told InQueensland.

“From 60 upwards, just think about how many people that is. There are over 800,000 seniors in Queensland so that’s a lot of people with a lot of really different stories and different lives and different interests and things that they are passionate about.

“At QPAC, more than 20 per cent of our audience is over the age of 60 and we see them come to all kinds of genres, all kinds of styles – if people are quick to think it’s just about classic music, then it isn’t.”

QPAC Scholar in Residence Judith McLean.

Lamoin said she felt privileged to “have had the time and counsel of many older people” in her life.

“Whether it’s my 91-year-old grandmother or fabulous friends who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, I guess the constant thing and the main thing I would say I’ve learnt from all of those people is to always have an element of curiosity.

“We’ve been really careful as we’ve been kind of pulling these conversations together to make sure that we’re constantly involving all the people in the conversation to look forward, instead of just being about reminiscing and how the great achievements and value that I’ve contributed during their lives that’s true and fantastic but I’ve also got something to contribute to the future.

“It’s kind of compounded at the moment too with everything that’s going on with restrictions and COVID and the impact that it’s having on communities everywhere we’re constantly portraying older people as vulnerable.”

Lamoin said younger participants – both those taking part physically and those watching along from home – would be invited to draw their elders with a pen and paper.

“Art exposes the way we see things in all kinds of ways so we want them to draw and talk about that,” she said.

“As an activity that’s something that people at home can do with the little people in their lives as well and help them have the kind of language to talk about art and drawing and self-expression because it doesn’t need to be complicated and it doesn’t need a lot of resources and it doesn’t need a lot of time.”

COTA Queensland chief executive Mark Tucker-Evans welcomed QPAC’s support in helping bring Drawn Together to life, and encouraged people of all ages across the state to get together with family, friends, neighbours, or in community groups to enjoy the program.

“This year we proudly mark the 60th anniversary of Queensland Seniors Week and while, like so many events in Australia and globally, we have had to adapt our program to be virtual, we are thrilled to have the expertise of our state’s performing arts centre and to be able to kick off our week of celebrations with this wonderful morning tea in-conversation and performance event,” Tucker-Evans said.

“The theme of this year’s Seniors Week is ‘Celebrating Queensland Seniors’, and our first day being a ‘day of solidarity between generations’, acknowledges how important family relationships are to the health and well-being of people of all ages, particularly in the lives of our seniors.”

Although there have only been small audiences assembled at QPAC for the filming of Drawn Together, Lamoin said it had been invigorating to see performers returning to the space.

“Getting back to having artists in the same room with some audiences – albeit in unusual and different circumstances and on a different scale – the buzz has just been palpable around the building, for staff in particular, to have artists back and see people walking down the hallway with musical instruments.”

QPAC’s chief executive John Kotzas said the centre was proud to play a part in helping deliver Drawn Together, describing the notion of bringing people of all ages together over shared love of performance as “a natural fit”.

“We know that in these challenging times, people have valued more than ever the role that the arts play in connecting us with others and so we’re pleased to bring together this group of esteemed Queenslanders in conversation alongside some of Queensland’s leading performing artists for Drawn Together,” Kotzas said.

Dame Quentin Bryce.

Dame Quentin Bryce encouraged people to tune in to the stream and said she was looking forward to sharing a cup of tea, conversation and performances by Queensland artists with as many people as possible.

“The arts are vitally important in bringing us together. I have taken my grandson Charlie to many live performances and it has offered incredible shared experiences, deepening our connection, as I am sure so many grandparents have found with their young ones,” she said.

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