CEL­E­BRA­TION:

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY COLIN MACGILLIVR­AY

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.

Pic­ture: PAUL CARRACHER

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

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