Published by: Rob Jennings | 19-Feb-2017
In March this year, as has happened every two years since 1976, one of Australia"s most celebrated arts festivals will Brigadoon-like reappear in the central Victorian town of Castlemaine. @statefestival #statefestival
Venue: Castlemaine Victoria
Address: Castlemaine Victoria
Date: 17 - 26 March 2017
Time: various
Ticket: various
Buy / Ticket:
Call: 03 5472 5123
The Castlemaine State Festival, a ten-day multi-arts festival taking place in the picture book goldfields town from 17 March, holds the remarkable distinction of being the first arts festival of any kind in Victoria "” its unique history a tribute to festival founder, the now 100-year-old Berek Segan.

Heading this artistic celebration is festival director Martin Paten, bringing his fifth and final festival into being.

"As you could imagine, this has been a large part of my life," he said, sitting in his office in the heart of the town.

"Art is a central part of what this town is about; the people of this place feel its importance. I"ll miss this, but, those feelings are for another time, for now I"m focused on the event and the wonderful team around me here; I"ll find time to reminisce after March," he said with the look of a man on a mission.

A hallmark of the festival has been the diversity of the arts on offer every two years. "We want to respect and reflect the diverse tastes of this town, and the audiences we welcome here," Martin explained.

In a stark example of that diversity, Martin said a focus of the coming festival is the cinema and art of the Philippines.

As he readily acknowledges, no one could have predicted the arrival of Filipino artists would coincide with the rise of one of the globe"s more provocative political leaders, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I could claim sage-like abilities to have predicted the arts-politics mix of the Philippines would be such a meaningful topic on which to part-base this festival, but, it is one of those remarkable synchronicities, one I know will also be foremost in the minds of our audience members," he said.

A calling card of the festival has been its ability to permeate every corner of Castlemaine and surrounds. In fact, you could reasonably make the argument that the State Festival"s now 40 year presence here means the town has, in part, been remade in the festival"s own image.

Certainly the high number of practicing, nationally recognised artists now living here "” you can experience their work through the festival"s Castlemaine Created open studios program "” adds another layer to the experience of this unique event.

While the raw statistics for 2017"s festival are impressive: 415 artists, 18 countries represented, over 100 individual performances, exhibitions, workshops and events, plus some 80 local artists opening their studios, quoting the raw numbers does not do any justice to the individual artists appearing.

One such example is the Indigenous artists journeying from East Arnhem Land"s Yirrkala community. Sitting in his office, Martin pauses for a moment, before speaking of their arrival.

"The Yirrkala artists will be making a remarkable contribution to this festival; their evocation of place, of Country, will be transporting," he said.

"Then there"s the circus and acrobatic elements we"ll be treated to "” I"m not sure if it"s because I want to round off my time here with unashamed fun, but, I"m so looking forward to what these joyous artists will bring to town.

"This will be a celebration of the arts and of community; a celebration of everything that remains magical and important about this town and its festival," Martin said with a broad smile.

The 2017 Castlemaine State Festival runs from the 17-26 March.

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