17 November 2023

'Pause and renew': South Coast music venue heading into 2024 with fine-tuned program

| Claire Sams
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music ensemble concert

The final touches are being put on Four Winds’ program for 2024, but it has been confirmed the Easter festival will not go ahead. Photo: Dave Rogers.

Four Winds is known for its concerts and performances of varying musical genres, but it is facing a shake-up in 2024.

Executive director Leigh Small said the past months had seen the team behind the venue re-calibrate.

“We’re undertaking regional market research; we’re doing a review of the company,” she said.

“We’re looking at the environment we’re in and planning for the long term.

“It’s a lot of planning, and we felt that we’re at the right point in the existence of Four Winds to pause and renew what that festival and [the wider] vision will be for the future.”

The Coolagolite bushfire was brought under control on 4 October after burning more than 6700 hectares of the NSW Far South Coast and several properties.

“We were very, very fortunate that the RFS were there to help save Four Winds, and we had a new system of alerts and sprinklers,” Ms Small said.

“But I think the recent fires in October, which rimmed Four Winds, saw the community take a physical and emotional bashing.

“We really felt that it was cause for thought about what Four Winds can be in the music world, and what it can be within this unique community.”

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While the 2024 program is set to be released in January, there will be a “pause” on the annual Easter festival.

“Four Winds has had a more than 30-year history of presenting a classically based concert festival over Easter,” Ms Small said.

In 2024, this will be changed to a series of smaller concerts throughout the year, including ones held over the Easter period.

The Youth Festival will also make a return in 2024, and there are plans for partnerships with Musica Viva, Music in the Regions, Cobargo Folk Festival and Wanderer Festival.

First Nations creative director Cheryl Davison will work on the venue’s First Nations programming.

“Four Winds is committed to language and song, so Cheryl will be producing a weekend next year to celebrate language and song and Yuin culture,” Ms Small said.

The coming year will also see new additions to Four Winds’ creative team, with the return of Lindy Hume, who was the artistic director in 2021 and 2022, and Timothy Walker will join the artistic leadership team to curate the 2024 program.

“Next year, there’ll be a lot of reasons to come to Four Winds,” Ms Small said.

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She said the announcement followed a busy schedule this year, which is to come to a close with its final shows in November and December.

“Creatively, it’s been a very busy and successful year,” she said.

“The Easter festival this year was very successful – the artists who attended were amazing.

“Throughout the year, there were many residencies and performances in the Windsong Pavilion.”

The 2024 youth-oriented festival, Bunaan Garindja, will be held on 19 November from 11:30 am to 4 pm, and the venue will host Dog Trumpet’s tour after the previous venue was affected by the Coolagolite bushfire.

Four Winds is at 17 Four Winds Road in Barragga Bay, near Bermagui.

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