Page 1139 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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I rise today to recognise the work of the ACT Labor government in transforming Canberra into a vibrant cultural centre for the country. We only have to look at the huge turnout over the Canberra Day weekend to see how, in just a few years, Canberra has become the place to be. Enlighten, the Balloon Spectacular and Art, Not Apart have drawn tourists from across the region and the country. This not only boosts our local economy; it boosts our culture and is integral to breaking down perceptions that Canberra is boring. It is a way for us to spruik, and be proud of, our thriving cultural scene and arts community.

The Canberra Day events this year were a continuing success. The 2015 Canberra Day celebrations were held over the Canberra Day long weekend and provided a perfect showcase for the city’s continuing evolution and growing reputation as a great place to live, work, visit, learn and invest.

The Enlighten festival, now in its fifth year, returned between 27 February and 7 March. It brought colour and culture to Canberra after dark. Enlighten included 22 ticketed events and over 30 free events and partnered with 12 cultural institutions to provide these events. Canberrans were treated to events ranging from films to tours, live music, the excellent night noodle markets and even a late-night rave at the National Library, that most serene of public institutions by day. The beautiful projections that lit up six of Canberra’s most iconic buildings in the parliamentary triangle were spectacular.

Canberra was also fortunate to host premier international installations and performances, including Voyage from the United Kingdom, which saw 300 illuminated paper boats launched on Lake Burley Griffin after sunset, providing a beautiful view of the lake and of these incandescent origami ships. Voala Station from Spain, described by the Canberra Times as an “aerial extravaganza”, were also one of the main performances at Enlighten, drawing huge numbers of people to their colourful and acrobatic show. These were some of the key cultural highlights of Enlighten, and it is no surprise that thousands of Canberrans and people from interstate came to see these performances and light installations.

Enlighten is increasingly providing direct economic benefits to the ACT through visitor expenditure. Every tourist travelling to the ACT stays at a Canberra hotel, eats at a Canberra restaurant and goes shopping in Canberra businesses. Every attendee builds towards positive social outcomes for our city. Of the thousands of people that came along, each person is adding to a booming culture in Canberra and is helping to make these events successful and put Canberra on the cultural map.

The 11th annual Lights! Canberra! Action! film festival formed part of the Enlighten program on Friday, 6 March, bringing a little piece of Hollywood to Canberra. This unique festival provided budding film-makers with just 10 days to write, shoot, edit and produce a seven-minute Canberra-centric film around this year’s theme, “Swings and roundabouts”. Held in the Senate rose gardens at Old Parliament House, Lights! Canberra! Action! attracted 32 film entries and generated attendance of around 2,000 people.

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