The Qld Choir back in business with modern masterpiece 'Carmina Burana'

Á MODERN choral classic that has become a number-one hit – as the go-to music in ads, films and concert halls worldwide – is set to inspire and uplift Brisbane audiences when the Queensland Choir presents Orff’s Carmina Burana on August 21. 

The Queensland Choir’s musical director Kevin Power said Brisbane audiences are hungry to experience live music after more than a year of COVID restrictions. He said this concert, staged in the Old Museum building at Bowen Hills, would not disappoint, "with its thrilling sound, three world-class soloists, two pianists, percussion and the choir combining to present the power and passion of Carmina Burana live"+-.

“The first movement of Carmina (O Fortuna) is one of those pieces that just about everybody in the world knows because it has been used in so many commercials and films,” Mr Power said.  

“And concert-goers are in for a treat with world-class Brisbane-based soloists ­­– soprano Leanne Kenneally Warnock, baritone Leon Warnock and counter-tenor Ron Morris – singing the solo parts of Carmina Burana in this performance,” Mr Power said. 

 “Written by Bavarian music teacher and conductor Carl Orff, Carmina Burana became a worldwide hit after World War Two and is without a doubt the most successful and frequently performed work by any 20th century composer. 

“As well as featuring in more than 20 films including Excalibur (1981), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Doors (1991), Natural Born Killers (1994) and G-Force (2009), O Fortuna has been used in TV shows such as Glee, The X Factor and The Simpsons and to advertise everything from coffee, beer and sports drinks to cars, aftershave and pizza,"he said.

 “Soprano Leanne Kenneally is a national ABC Young Performers Award winner and has performed with all of Australia’s leading opera companies and symphony orchestras, and with Germany’s Cologne Opera from 1999-2001. In this year’s Adelaide Festival she took the role of Helena in the Australian debut of Neil Armfield’s production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 “Like Leanne, her husband Leon Warnock is an award-winning Queensland Conservatorium graduate who has sung with Opera Australia, Opera Queensland and with Germany’s Theater Freiburg.  

“Counter-tenor Dr Ron Morris is also a university lecturer, speech therapist and audiologist who has studied music at Trinity College, London, worked with choristers from King’s College, Cambridge and elsewhere in the UK, and is in demand nationally and internationally as a conference speaker. 

“This concert is part of an exciting lead up to the Queensland Choir’s 150th anniversary celebrations next year, and a return to the Old Museum Building – Brisbane’s main concert hall before the opening of City Hall in 1930 – where the Choir gave most of its concert performances from 1891 to 1930. We are looking forward to showcasing and enjoying Brisbane’s wealth of world-class talent.”

www.qldchoir.com

  

 

 

Details

The Queensland choir presents Carl Orloff's Carmina Burana, conducted by Kevin Power, Saturday, August 21, 8pm, Old Museum Building, 480 Gregory Tce, Bowen Hills. Tickets: $45/ concession $40/ students and children $15. To book, phone 3257 4089 or go to www.oldmuseum.org/event 

 

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Darryl Lovegrove entertains a tune of resilience

By Leon Gettler >>

ENTERTAINMENT entrepreneur and renowned public speaker Darryl Lovegrove says the big lesson for the pandemic for all businesses is resilience.

No one knows exactly what’s ahead, and how the recovery will pan out. All businesses can know is that things will pick up eventually, they just have to stay focused.

An award-winning performer and producer of some of the biggest corporate entertainment shows in Australasia, Mr Lovegrove is also a performer, starring in shows such as Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar. Mr Lovegrove has also created and staged shows around the world.

At this point, however, he believes the industry for performers and artists has shut down.

He said in this climate, it is impossible to run an entertainment business. 

“All you can do is just cut your costs absolutely to just the barest bones and just use all those weeks and months to gently remind people of your existence,” Mr Lovegrove told Talking Business.

“That’s all you can do. Because when that market out there just doesn’t exist, there’s no point in putting marketing dollars into saying ‘Hey, remember us when it all comes back?’ because the world has just changed enormously.

“Even now, when there are green shoots in Australia and we’re coming back, it is so slow. It is breathtaking. You really need to massively lower your expectations and your costs.”

NO SPEAKING GIGS

Mr Lovegrove said there had been no speaking gigs for the last year. He has only recently reluctantly accepted to do a virtual presentation in a few months’ time for a Hong Kong client at an Asian conference.

He said people in the industry needed to be adaptable in this climate.

He cannot make any firm predictions for how the industry will be post-COVID,

He compares the experience now with what his business went through post-9/11 and the global financial crisis. All one can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst, he said.

“I look at it as my third crisis that I’ve faced over the years. Making predictions is fun but you’re probably going to get them wrong,” Mr Lovegrove said.

“I think it’s going to continue to be very, very slow. I don’t see any momentum building up until July and August and hopefully some kind of Christmas season will come back,” he said.

 

PATIENCE UNTIL ‘NORMALITY’

Mr Lovegrove agreed that “stuff eventually gets back to normal and what businesses need to do is just have some patience and see it through.

“That’s all I can do. That’s what I’ve done in the past. It is to keep your state of mind as positive as possible, be prepared for very long recovery and persevere with it,” he said.

“Resilience is a massively important component of anyone who is running their business.

“The fact of the matter is that in this world, the new norm is constant change. It’s going to always change the goal posts. Your market’s going to change, the tastes are going to change, the infrastructure of which you do everything is continually changing and you have to adapt.

“You have to work out where are your customer’s eyes, where are they looking now this month, what kind of interface are they looking at for the moment,” Mr Lovegrove said.

“It is always changing and in this period of history, be patient, see where it’s going but stay in there. Try not to overspend too much and be prepared for the slings and arrows that are going to come your way.

“If you can do that, you’re giving yourself half a chance to hopefully succeed in the next era of buoyancy.”

www.darryllovegrove.com

www.leongettler.com 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

 

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Edwina is all heart for wall art

FOR EDWINA CAMERON, a 20-year career in communications provided perfect training for a mid-career pivot into the online retail world.

Edwina launched her business I Heart Wall Art in 2018, after realising there was a gap in the market for affordably priced art prints that had the look and feel of fine art. 

“I’m the daughter of an art curator and grew up in a house full of colourful, fine art,” she said. 

“I’ve always felt that mass-produced prints lacked a bit of personality, but filling my own house with fine art has never been an option financially either.

“I wanted walls filled with big, colourful artworks – I just didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. 

“I decided to get some of my own digital artworks printed onto canvases and finished with timber floating frames and discovered, much to my relief, they looked great. The colours were vivid and the prints looked like big, original artworks I might have paid thousands for.

“Then, it occurred to me that other people might want that too – and I Heart Wall Art was born.”

ART OF COMMUNICATION

The wall art business has grown substantially since that beginning, with Edwina finding her communications background useful in just about every area of the business.

“I’ve actually never worked in a shop in my life, so I really knew nothing about retail or e-commerce” she said. 

“But I’ve always loved writing and photography and have been dabbling in web development and social media management for years too.

“Those are all skills I’ve used consistently since starting I Heart Wall Art. It’s allowed me to do everything from designing many of the artworks, designing and building the website, designing the logo, while also sourcing suppliers and the rest.”

Edwina cites one of the best pieces of advice she’s heard as learning to value her time and to outsource the things she’s not good at.

“I’ve never had a brain for numbers, so sitting and digging into Google Analytics every day and trying to make sense of my marketing budget didn’t come easy at all,” she said.

“As soon as I could afford to, I ‘hired’ my friend Ben Henzell’s marketing company BFJ Media. They’ve done an incredible job growing my business for me, even with my measly marketing budgets at the beginning.”

HOME-GROWN GROWTH

With the business experiencing “incredible growth” in 2020, Edwina said, the plans for I Heart Wall Art ‘s future include bringing much more of the production of the pieces in-house this year.

“Our plans are that my husband Gerry will be our first full-time employee, cutting back his nursing shifts and taking over a lot of the production and day-to-day management of the business as it grows,” she said.

“That will free me up to concentrate on the things I love – creating more things that people want to hang on their walls, styling the products for photographs and finding new partnerships and markets to expand into to keep growing the business.

“Our hope is to expand into a new workspace in Maleny at some point next year and hopefully continue to expand into new product lines like wall decals.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for us and I feel very lucky that a creative outlet is starting to generate a real income for myself and my family.

“For anyone else considering starting an online-only store, I’d say -- it’s much more work than you think! You really either need to have a lot of the core skills yourself or a healthy budget to build something to compete with all the other online stores out there.”

www.iheartwallart.com.au

 

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Quota suspension could spell curtains for film and TV small businesses

THE Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said thousands of small businesses in the screen production industry could be left on the cutting room floor, if Australian content quotas are not reinstated.

Ms Carnell said the emergency quota suspension introduced in response to the COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the screen production industry, 86 percent of which are small businesses. She called on the Federal Government and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to provide certainty to the struggling industry.

“As it stands, Australian broadcasters are under no obligation to produce new, locally made content until the end of this year at the earliest,” Ms Carnell said.

“This is hurting thousands of small production companies that would ordinarily be creating Australia’s best drama, documentaries and children’s content. We know that many of these small production companies are ready to return to work, but there are limited projects in the pipeline due to the uncertainty over how long this quota suspension will remain in place.

“It’s very difficult to attract investment under these circumstances, which could ultimately drive many of these small businesses to the brink. That’s devastating for the small businesses involved and the entire production industry," Ms Carnell said. 

“It also has significant ramifications for our culture and the telling of Australian stories. What would we do without Bluey or iconic Australian films such as Crocodile Dundee or Top End Wedding?

“Equally, this could have serious economic consequences. Deloitte Access Economics estimates the Australian film and television industries directly contribute $5.8 billion to the economy and about 46,000 full times jobs.

“The industry needs a clear commitment that the quota suspension period will not be extended beyond 2020. The government should also ensure mandatory Australian-made quotas apply to all other streaming services.

“While the government has invested in attracting foreign productions to our shores, much more could be done to directly foster the Australian screen production industry.”

www.asbfeo.gov.au

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How Screen Australia is responding to coronavirus

By Graeme Mason >>

WE ARE STARTING to see a glimmer of hope that Australia’s response to COVID-19 is working. That positive news has undoubtedly come at a drastic financial and emotional cost, and all of us know someone who has been directly affected.

Out of this hardship, it has been heartening to see how our industry can pull together in a crisis. For those that have been hardest hit, I want you know that in speaking to leaders across our sector, you are in everyone’s minds and certainly at Screen Australia, you are a factor in all our decision making. 

To that end, here is an update on where Screen Australia is in the COVID-19 world.

BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL

Screen Australia remains open for business.

  • In February and March we received 246 applications across all programs, which are being processed as normal.
  • In February and March we processed 22 final certificates for the Producer Offset, with total rebates of approximately $30 million. We also processed 26 provisional certificates for future productions.
  • We intend to expend every dollar in our 2019/20 budget. We continue to provide production funding, with the knowledge some shoots will be delayed. Next week we will announce the latest slate of scripted projects to be green-lit.
  • We continue to fund development in all areas.
  • Applications to the new Premium Plus late-stage scripted development program will open this Friday, April 17, 2020, representing a 230 percent increase in funds available for premium story development.
  • Our board meetings will occur on April 20 and June 22 as scheduled.

We are assessing all requests for assistance for funded titles.

Screen Australia invests in the majority of new Australian drama and documentary productions, so our funded titles represent a sizeable portion of production activity.

Where required, we have been processing variation payments for Screen Australia-funded productions that had their active shoot interrupted, to ensure they come out of hiatus as soon as practical. This intervention is unashamedly about making sure people have jobs to come back to.

For funded productions that had an imminent shoot interrupted, we are assessing requests for assistance as we receive them. Every production has unique challenges, from location issues to cast availability to continuity problems, so whilst you won’t see a branded initiative around this assistance, rest assured this work is being done.

DOCUMENTARY FACES CHALLENGES

Documentary has a unique set of challenges in this current situation and many creators in this space were already operating in difficult circumstances. As such, my focus right now is on giving the documentary sector as much stability as possible.

To that end, we will be postponing the introduction of the revised documentary programs originally scheduled for July 1, 2020 until 2021. The existing documentary programs, including the Producer Equity Program (PEP), will remain in place for the rest of 2020.

The budget for documentary in 2019/20 remains unchanged and our documentary team is working on a very large number of new applications right now.

I realise there was a lot of support for the new programs through the revision process last year, but I feel this short postponement is appropriate given the circumstances.

THANK YOU TO FRONTLINE WORKERS

Finally, on behalf of the Australian screen sector, I want to thank Australia’s frontline workers for their incredible and selfless efforts over the past months in combatting COVID-19.

To put your own health on the line for others is a remarkable act of generosity, and whether that be those working in hospitals, to those ensuring we can put food on the table, we thank you.

It’s because of you that our families, friends and colleagues can stay safe and our sector can have confidence a recovery is on the horizon.

And although we will never be able to repay you, we will continue to show our support by staying at home. 

RESOURCES

  • Browse the COVID support directory here  
  • Join the Australian Screen News Facebook group to share opportunities here  
  • Subscribe to the Screen Australia newsletter to receive news fortnightly here  
  • Support Australian creators by buying and renting Australian screen stories. For some inspiration, start with the Watch From Home guide here  

 

Graeme Mason is the CEO of Screen Australia.This report has been adapted from an open letter Mr Mason sent to Australia's screen industry, creative communities, supporters and fans.

Unikrn goes from e-sports to gaming big-time

By Leon Gettler >>

UNIKRN, the e-sports, wagering and gaming company – with investors including Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, Elizabeth Murdoch and others – is close to becoming the leading provider for some of the world’s biggest casinos.

Rahul Sood, Unikrn’s co-founder and CEO, said it would be a good fit as Unikrn is pioneering the way forward in gaming with cryptocurrency, something most casinos in the world know nothing about and something that will deliver them new markets. 

“We created it because our platform is more about fan engagement than it is just about gambling and we created a bunch of features on our platform where fans can earn tokens by connecting their video game accounts to the platform and playing games,” Mr Sood told Talking Business.

He said the company had to go through an extensive audit to secure access to cryptocurrency and it is now the only business with a licence from the Isle of Man that allows for betting with cryptocurrency and fiat currency on live e-sports, online casinos and a skills betting platform. This happened because of the way Unikrn handles Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) controls on blockchain.

He said the company had been operating since 2014 and had started out a tech company and had been building out its technology ever since then.

USTILISING ETHEREUM

The cryptocurrency used is an Ethereum-based token and the company has an Etherium-based blockchain system that supports 9000 transactions per second, robots that do the odds trading, computer vision technology and predictive analytics to come up with the odds.

Mr Sood said Unikrn has the ability to operate in over 30 countries around the world and it still hasn’t done any localisation.     

He said casinos have been approaching Unikrn to enter partnerships.

“I would say the largest casinos in the world are now calling us to find ways to partner with us,” Mr Sood said.

He said this was important in the US where gaming companies could only get a licence for sports betting if they owned a casino or were partners with a land-based casino.

“So there are opportunities for us to work with casinos. It starts with bringing in e-sports betting ad building wagering experiences around games people love and then talking about cryptocurrency,” Mr Sood said.

“Cryptocurrency is still something they’re wrapping their heads around but there is natural fit in the casino for cryptocurrency and I think most of them see it, they just don’t know how to apply it.”

WAGERING BUILT AROUND GAMES

Mr Sood said the casinos’ slot machine business was dying in Las Vegas because only older people were using slot machines.

“The fundamental difference between that and Unikrn’s approach is we’re building wagering experiences around games people love,” he said.

Mr Sood said the company diversified its locations to recruit talent.

Unikrn’s management team, its chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and head of product are in Sydney, most of the development team is in Berlin – with satellite offices in Croatia and Poland – the marketing head is in New York, there is a team in Las Vegas and Soon works out of Seattle.

It’s all par for the course for Rahul Sood, who began developing start-ups when he was with Microsoft Ventures. He has also been involved in multiple gaming companies. 

www.unikrn.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

Vloggi brings cheap (but good) video production to SMEs

By Leon Gettler >>

HOW CAN a non-profit group or business make a cheap video? The answer lies in team work and crowdsourcing.

Sydney tech start-up Vloggi has developed the solution with a platform that allows marketers with no filming skills or experience to crowdsource video campaigns anywhere in the world. It allows them to create authentic, professional looking video content to help bolster digital marketing efforts.  

Justin Wastnage, Vloggi’s founder and CEO, said Vloggi puts teams at the heart of the video making process, something that is unusual in film making and video production, which has always tended to be a solo pursuit.

He said even when video production did  involve teams, there was still a production person which created a bottle-neck.

The Vloggi model creates the look and feel of the video and then gets people to produce video clips, which are dragged and dropped into the product.

Vloggi has created a video template that users can apply to their videos.

“You make the template once and you reuse it endlessly,” Mr Wastnage told Talking Business.

TEAM VARIETY ENCOURAGED

The model also uses a variety of teams, which can be anything from people travelling together who want to make a highlights videos of their trips, or it can be large corporations wanting to harness community story telling.

Or, it can be a Facebook group seeking to have its members contribute video.

“That’s really what our teams function does,” Mr Wastnage said. “It enables anyone who has a team, large or small, to have one central place where all their video clips go in, and from there, anyone with access rights, can then pull those clips together into videos and download them for free in a template.”  

Vloggi has also created an algorithm that selects the best six clips and puts them into a highlights reel.

“Ultimately we want to automate video production and these are the first steps on that path,” he said.

SMART USE OF THE SMART PHONE

Vloggi was created for video makers using smart phones.

“This was the founding principle of Vloggi,” Mr Wastnage said. “Today, there are 2.2 billion people carrying a high definition video camera in their pocket in their smart phone.

“The quality of video now that’s recorded natively through the camera of the latest smart phones is so superb is that we have done is created a way for people to pool those clips together.”

He said Vloggi doesn’t set out to compete with high end video production.

“We are not replacing video editing, we’re augmenting it,” Mr Wastnage said. “More broadly, there are 85 percent of companies and small groups who are not doing any video at all.”

One key example lies with the 620 million Facebook users out there, where only 15 percent have any video content.

“That’s a lot of people who can’t afford a video or they find it too complex. What we are doing is positioning very neatly in that market,” Mr Wastnage said

This allows people to easily and more professionally create videos for their followers using the Vloggi platform. 

www.vloggi.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness. 

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