Jam-packed Arts Festival in making

The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival is approaching and boasts a major event which celebrates Penola’s rich art, literary and cultural heritage.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the festival and the 150th year year since the birth of Penola’s John Shaw Neilson’s life.

The May 12-15 jam-packed program will include over 50 events across more than 40 venues, including workshops, exhibitions, comedy, competitions, live music and performances.

The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize will be a highlight of the weekend and the winner will receive $12,000 thanks to The Balnaves Foundation.

The $1000 Limestone Coast Local Art Prize winner will also be announced, sponsored by renowned local Lois Hodge.

Bands will perform at the Coonawarra Vignerons Shenanigans Night at the Coonawarra Hall and there will be a premiere Co-Opera performance of one act comic opera ‘Gianni Schicchi’ by Giacomo Puccini in Rymill Hall.

A literary brunch at Ottelia will involve a line-up of film creatives, including producer Nick Batzias and director and screenwriter Justin Kurzel, who will explore their award-winning film ‘Nitram.’

The pair will be accompanied by friend and author Jock Serong who will discuss his latest book ‘The Burning Island.’

The festival atmosphere of ‘Down the Lane’ in Petticoat Lane will entice people with food, beverages and stalls and a family ‘pARTy’ will be held next door at Mary MacKillop Oval, with a giant 30th birthday cake, circus acts, magicians and music.

The $1000 Penola Coonawarra Design Prize is returning, with the winning design used for the 2023 Arts Festival promotional material along with the Catherine Martin Literary Award writing competition.

Buskers can also sign up for the 2022 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival Busking and Open Mic Competition.

Festival Committee Chair John Mossop said this year’s line-up represented the culmination of strong community creativity and dedication to the festival after a challenging two years.

“We invite everyone to come and experience what promises to be a fabulous festival celebration and to enjoy the performances, workshops, wineries, galleries, gardens, food and wine of Penola and Coonawarra over this exciting weekend,” he said.

Festival Committee member Peta Baverstock said she was looking forward to the event and believed it would be very successful.

“It’s a real community event that a lot of attention and love goes into, so I think it’s a celebration of the community coming together,” she said.

“We’re really looking forward to the whole of the Limestone Coast knowing about it, visiting us and getting a taste of Penola and Coonawarra.”

Visit artsfestival.com.au/ for more information.

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