It’s hard to imagine a launch event going more smoothly. After weeks of wet weather, there was nothing but clear and starry skies for the much-anticipated opening of HOTA – Home of the Arts’ new outdoor performance space.
Thousands of incredibly happy punters made the most of the autumn evening with picnic rugs, low-slung chairs and chilled vibes.
With a DJ setting the tone for early arrivals, there was no mistaking Tim Minchin as the reason everybody was here. And honestly, there could not have been a better choice for HOTA to send a signal to people near and far that it has arrived.
The new outdoor space, years in development will indeed be a home for the city’s artistic visitors – with a capacity somewhere between 2000-3000 and a versatile performance space, we’re expecting that HOTA will attract touring artists encompassing contemporary music, orchestra, theatre, performance and festivals.
But back to Tim Minchin. Can you imagine a bolder way to launch a performance venue in a city known for its conservative roots? Tim’s set delivered a punchy mix of comedy, piano, wit, social commentary and some light-hearted political jibes. Commencing solo before welcoming a full band onto stage, it wasn’t all hard-hitting righteousness. There was plenty of cheese. Songs about cheese, that is. And boobs.
He’s the consummate showman who knows how to keep an audience wondering exactly what will come next, mixing comedy with cutting lyricism and punchy songs. People were laughing, nodding in agreement and sometimes sitting open-mouthed at the irreverence of it all.
Tim Minchin is an Australian and he’s a larrikin. He’s internationally acclaimed – a singer, comedian, songwriter, playwright, composer and actor. Watching him flit around on the stage on Saturday night, we reckon he’s got dancer covered too. He’s highly intellectual and strangely relatable to such a broad demographic, evident in the standing ovation he received at the end of the show.
When it comes to bang for buck, there’s not a single other person who could give HOTA such depth of field in terns of presenting this new space as a place for everybody. Tim’s edgy performance will make long-term supporters of The Arts Centre Gold Coast extra proud for providing the groundswell that has driven culture in the city for a long time.
Tim Minchin’s performance was as flawless as we expected it to be. But the significance of the night stretches much further than artistic brilliance. It sends a strong signal to people inside and outside of the city that we are hitting a new stride when it comes to cultural programming.
We have our own riverstage, perched right on a tidal salt-water lake, surrounded by stunning parklands and artworks with the skyline of Surfers Paradise as its backdrop. It’s time for those Brisvegans to hop on a train and enjoy quality acts in our backyard for a change.
What’s most exciting is that the full program for 2018 hasn’t been announced yet. HOTA’s outdoor space hosts a bunch of free dancing and yoga sessions in coming months as well as a repeat of ‘The Spirit of Churaki’ after it has its world premiere at Bleach* Festival. Acclaimed global artist Laurie Anderson is in residence for five days, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra pops in to perform the music of John Williams and Neil Finn visits with an orchestra in June.
One person involved closely with making it all come together and managing the logistics of opening a venue of this nature commented at Minchin’s incredibly apt song-list that opened with ‘When This Plane Goes Down’ and ended with ‘Feels Like Going Home.” And last weekend, that’s exactly what Tim Minchin and the HOTA team did. They gave this city a new home – a bold new home – where touring acts can connect with Gold Coast audiences and where our own creative talents can be elevated and showcased alongside.
IMAGES (c) Peter Wheeler