Heritage shines bright at Lit Festival - The Chronicle

THE LIT Festival: Stories in Light is something bold, colourful and new, but it's also shining a spotlight on Toowoomba's heritage, and festival director Ben Tupas believes it will appeal to over-50s as much as younger generations.

Held on September 28 and 29, the free night-time festival will comprise three major commissioned pieces at Bell St Mall, Grand Central Shopping Centre and Queens Park, as well as a number of mini projects in shop fronts, light projections, lantern parade and sculptures, street theatre and performers.

It will involve internationally established as well as emerging artists, and create a synergy with local businesses and people.

Ben said the Toowoomba arts festival differed from Sydney's famous Vivid in its underpinning of past, present and future storytelling, unknown heroes and untold histories.

"People love nostalgia and remembering the past, and seeing these art works and the city light up will be quite magical," Ben said.

He and other volunteers spent hours poring over archival material to prepare elements of the festival.

Ten local artists then produced pieces - either literal or inspired by these segments of history - for local store fronts.

"The thing with history is it's always seen through a lens ... and because we are of the internet age, we've approached it from a very multi-lens perspective," Ben said.

In some cases, he said, it may simply be the colour palette which is reflected, but each piece will be explained to enable people to "be conscious of the stories that inhabit the place where they live and of stories not told which should be told".

He said while it was definitely a strategic move to time the festival during the Carnival of Flowers, it would also bring a new aspect to the carnival, stretching into the night and encouraging people to stay and explore what the city has to offer.

It's hoped local restaurants will benefit and other businesses may open longer hours to cater for the new nightlife.

"It's something Toowoomba hasn't seen before and it's going to make the centre very dynamic," Ben said.

It was all part of Toowoomba's changing face from a regional town to a regional city.

"Toowoomba has an enviable lifestyle and this festival seeks to open up the city and entice people and businesses to find a niche with new tourism opportunities," he said.

He stressed that this was a festival for Toowoomba to share and take ownership of, and feedback would be collected to ensure the community was getting what it wanted and the festival was sustainable.

- Alison Houston