Mathew Knobel is the Canberra based owner and director of Typeyard Design & Advertising and committee member of Canberra Pride who organise the SpringOut festival each year. In the light of the recent Marriage Equality Act, I spoke to Mat recently about SpringOut and why it matters to the local community.
Why is an event like this significant for the Queer community of Canberra?
SpringOut brings in to focus the Queer culture of Canberra. It is a festival for everyone. It will showcase more than 20 events and reveal as many facets of queer culture as possible. It not only celebrates Canberra’s GLBTI community, it informs, educates and inspires. It’s one of those festivals where people reunite; bringing them out of the suburbs and bringing them together at social events rather than the local token gay bar. It holds a special place in the hearts of the community and its significance in that respect is major.
The thing that’s unique about SpringOut is the community aspect. In larger cities, you don’t get that sense of ownership at a festival, you’ll always be a guest, whereas in Canberra you get a sense of ownership of this project. SpringOut connects with Canberrans.
What is the history of the event? How did it start?
Launched in 1999, SpringOut Festival began with, literally, two volunteers, and now has an enthusiastic team of six, who spend about four months of each year planning. This team has brought a renewed sense of optimism and celebration to the festival. From 1999 to today, it’s become a more mature festival and this year the festival is bigger and better than ever before. There’s a real sense of excitement within the community.
What are your highlights for SpringOut?
Topped and tailed by signature events Fairday this Saturday 9 November and Bushdance on Saturday 23 November, the two-week festival is crammed with events for people of all ages. Highlights include dance parties, bake-offs, a talk by Sydney barrister and author Mark Tedeschi regarding transgender issues, and a performance by ARIA-winning pianist and former Canberra girl Sally Whitwell. Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who met his now-husband at Fair Day, leads a tour of wineries in the Canberra region. Check out the details at the end of this post.
How did you get involved in the Spring Out festival?
I was passionate and eager to be more involved in the community and through my business, Typeyard Design & Advertising, offered the SpringOut guys the prospect of rebranding and designing materials for the promotion of the festival. From there, I was invited to be on the board of Canberra Pride (responsible for the managing and developing of the SpringOut festival and the rest, as they say, is history! I’m pleased and proud to be involved in the development of what I call ‘an organic beast’ – each year the festival changes, continues to grow and becomes its own creation. It’s very exciting!
What is the Queer community like in Canberra?
Our community is very diverse. Not only that, but proud. There’s a renewed optimism in the Canberra community, especially since the passing of the Marriage Equality Same-Sex bill in the ACT Legislative Assembly in October. I would also say that it’s a very close-knit community that always shows support and kindness.
Canberra has its own gay bar, a local gay mag and several other LGBT-owned businesses and social networks. It’s a very friendly gay scene.
Any tips for people coming along to the events?
Book, book, book! LOL…We encourage people to book for the events like Sally Whitwell, Wine Barr, and the cinema events. An Evening with Mark Tedeschi will also be popular so we encourage people to book early for this event as well.
Fairday will have food and beverage stalls but feel free to bring a picnic and sit on the lawns of Westlund House and enjoy the day.
We are so proud of this year’s festival. The range of events we think will cater for many groups in Canberra’s GLBTI community. We encourage everyone to come along to some of the events and see what Canberra’s Queer culture is all about.
Fairday Saturday 9 November Set in the leafy and shaded grounds of Westlund House. Colourful stalls, musicians, artists and fabulous food stands are spread around the green lawns of this hub for Canberra’s queer community.
Victor Victoria Tuesday 12 November Screening of the classic 1982 musical comedy about gender perceptions, discrimination and the battle of the sexes.
BAKE Saturday 16 November Deliciously good and heaps of fun! Grab those aprons and make a difference in the kitchen. Canberra’s inaugural LGBTI charity bake off.
Big Gay Champagne Breakfast Sunday 10 November Eat, drink and be merry on a beautiful spring mooring with all your fabulous friends. It’s on again, the FUSE SpringOut big gay champagne breakfast.
Wine Barr Sunday 17 November at Tilley’s Devine Café
Sally plays a gig Tuesday 19 November Concert by pianist Sally Whitwell whose most recent album of music by Michael Nyman won the 2013 ARIA Award for best classical album.
QUILTBAGS: a queer night of storytelling Thursday 21 November Queer; Unidentified; Intersex; Lesbian; Transgender; Bisexual; Asexual; Gay; Straight. A group of generous Canberrans captivate their audience through the timeless tradition of storytelling.
Galaxy Club Retro Friday 22 November – Galaxy Nightclub, Casino Canberra A fun night of dancing to 80s and 90s retro classics. Madonna, Kylie, Pet shop Boys, all designed to have you dancing the night away with friends. Tickets are $10 at the door.
In conversation with Mark Tedeschi Saturday 23 November Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi talks about one of the least known criminal trials in Australian legal history.
Bushdance Saturday 23 November A fun night of dancing with people of all flavours. There is a bar, BBQ and a live band to lead you through those dances that you might remember from primary school – like Strip the Willow, The Waves of Bondi, crazy polkas and some more genteel promenades. By the end of the night you’ll have danced with everyone, caught up with old friends, made some new ones and helped raise cash for the GLBTI community.
For more festival information head to the SpringOut website or check the listings above.