Horsham and Nhill’s Karen communities enjoyed their first Horsham Karen New Year celebration at the weekend. Mu Tar Teo was among performers who took to the Horsham Town Hall stage to showcase traditional dances for hundreds of guests.
The colour and pageantry of the Wimmera’s Karen population was on full display at Horsham Town Hall’s theatre on Saturday as people celebrated Karen New Year.
The Karen community has been a Wimmera success story, with large numbers of the ethnic group settling in Nhill after fleeing violence in Myanmar.
Saturday marked the first time the Karen community hosted a New Year celebration in Horsham.
Horsham Town Hall venue marketing officer Charee Smith said the event had been a huge success, with more than 500 people packing the theatre to watch Karen cultural displays.
“We were very excited that it was so well received,” she said.
“It was a fantastic event not only for the Karen community, but also people who just wanted to support a significant cultural celebration.
“We were at capacity with the seating, so we can comfortably say there were more than 500 people there, but there were also people back of house supporting the other activities.”
Ms Smith said it was exciting to see the growth of the Karen community and said the town hall was excited to host more Karen New Year celebrations in the future.
“We love to support all cultural activities for community members,” she said. “It will be great to see how this event will grow, not only in Horsham but also for Nhill.”
Ms Smith said the event was a great way to commence the town hall’s program of events for 2019.
The theatre’s first show will be The Sapphires, which tells the story of a singing group of four young Yorta Yorta women and explores issues such as race, prejudice and acceptance. The play will be on February 9.
Ms Smith said the theatre’s 2019 season would have ‘something for everyone’.
“We have lots of different music, lots of theatre and great drama,” she said. “There are a lot of underlying messages and stories in the program this year.
“There is a story about a child with autism, which is in a play called Robot Song.
“We have got a play about what love is, which gives people the opportunity to have a say in what they interpret love as.”
Ms Smith said the theatre had attracted plenty of great commercial shows, with Dami Im, Anthony Callea, James Reyne and Leo Sayer set to play there this year.
“There are also some other big acts that we’re not allowed to announce yet,” she said. “What we’re trying to say to people is follow us on Facebook or on our website, because we have so many great shows that sometimes they’re missing out on going in our brochures.
“We’re a very popular venue and our audiences have loved the diversity of the shows we have.”
Ms Smith said the theatre’s holiday children’s program was still running, with a lighting class for children aged 12 and over scheduled for next week.
She said people wanting more information could visit website www. horshamtownhall.com.au.
COLOUR: Bendigo dancers travelled to entertain at Horsham’s first Karen New Year celebrations at Horsham Town Hall.
WARM WELCOME: Singers welcome guests to Horsham Town Hall theatre. Pictures: PAUL CARRACHER