Sunday, November 27, 2022

Arts markets forty years young

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Denmark Arts Market
Golden Hill Fiddlers perform on stage.

Story and pictures, Serena Kirby, Denmark Bulletin

This December marks 40 years since the first Denmark Arts Market was held at Berridge Park.

What started with just a handful of stallholders and a few locals casually playing music on the grass has grown into a regional drawcard that brings thousands of people to town on market days.

Attendances average about 3000 people at the December market, 5000 at each of the January events and nearly 9000 for Easter’s market day.

Artisans, artists and creators of all manner of items hold the market in high regard.

First time market stallholder and poet, Paddy Holmes, said he had heard great things about the markets when he visited Denmark for the Festival of Voice earlier in the year.

“People told me it had a really great vibe and was a bit of a Denmark institution,” Paddy said.

“I can see why – the people are friendly and it’s such a beautiful setting under the trees by the river.”

  • Paddy Holmes
  • MC Myles Mitchell

The event’s MC Myles Mitchell says the markets provide a lot more than just handmade goodies from stall holders and food vendors.

As the person in charge of booking and looking after the musical acts, Myles said the event gave local musicians of all ages the chance to be on a ‘big stage’.

“Performing at these markets is a much-coveted gig and we get artist enquiries from all over Australia. “Our stage production is first class and I’ve seen many careers blossom right here, ” Myles said.

“Some of our young musicians have gone on to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts as well as getting gigs to perform on other big stages.”

The December markets boasted primary school children from the Golden Hill Fiddlers, teenage trio The Unusual Suspects and talented 21-year-old Rosie Williamson.

“Acts like these reflect the mission of Denmark Arts to support local artists,” Myles said.

The Denmark markets gave novice performers The Unusual Suspects their first market performance last year leading them to be invited back this year and to perform at the 2021 Festival of Voice.

These three multi-talented high school students have begun writing their own material which Myles said showed exactly the type of growth in confidence and ability that Denmark Arts aimed to foster.

Denmark Arts’ new general manager, Anna Makes, said the longevity of the markets was a credit to all those who have been involved over the years.

“This is an incredibly well supported market on all levels,” Anna said.

The Unusual Suspects
The Unusual Suspects Riley Coote, Maya Davey-Lehmann and Reef White.
Denmark Bulletin 23 December 2021

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 23 December 2021.

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