Pulling of a Virtual KISS

Like the experienced troupers they are, Dave Evans and Tamara Campbell, lived up to the adage ‘the show must go on’ by staging a Virtual KISS Arts Festival this year.

After testing the water with some online pub quizzes, they realised that bringing their KISS Festival into people’s homes was going to be possible.

“The consistent feed-back we received from our quizzes was that people felt like they had had a night out,” says Dave.

“We were really proud of ourselves for facilitating that.”

With the help of funding of $9,900 from Kiama Council and the encouragement of Destination Kiama, the show went on, compered and co-ordinated from their home in Kiama Heights.

“We are really pleased we decided to hold it on the originally scheduled weekend (24-26 April), rather than hold it over as we think we hit peak isolation cabin fever,” says Dave.

“Now that restrictions are beginning to ease, people will have more options for socialising.”

Following the format of past Festivals as much as they could, an online lantern making workshop by Phil Relf was held on the Thursday, with the creative guru streaming live from his home.

This left time for people to make their own lanterns to participate in a Zoom parade from their backyards on the Saturday night.

As usual, Friday night was an adults only Kabaret, with artists ‘zooming’ in their performances from Sweden, Las Vegas, Melbourne, Sydney, Albion Park and Kiama.

“It was great to be able to choose the artists we wanted without having to worry about the logistics of getting them here,” says Dave.

The only ticketed event, the Kabaret far exceeded its usual capacity audience with over 300 people logging on.

Saturday saw the emergence of a Virtual Main Stage Show with four different acts entertaining a largely family audience with clowning, juggling, unicycling and acrobatics.

Performers included last year’s festival favourites Dr. Hubble’s Bubbles Show and The Pitts Family Circus.Sunday saw the creation of a new element, a Family Game Show with prizes donated by local businesses.

As part of the Festival, local visual artists and KISS regulars Penny Sudabin and Tim Rushby-Smith created the ComPASHion Gallery – an online virtual gallery of faces and messages from Festival participants.

The Saturday and Sunday events were live-streamed on Facebook and watched from as far afield as USA, Hawaii, UK, Europe and Asia, with a total audience of over 3,500 people.

“We can’t wait for next year’s Festival to really capitalise on the extra social media reach we created over the weekend,” says Dave.

“Exciting as Virtual KISS was though, there is no substitute for the real thing.”

Details: View the live stream shows on the KISS Arts Festival Facebook page. The ComPASHion Gallery here.

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