• Meeanjin Market stall Muralappi. (Supplied: Meeanjin Markets.)Source: Supplied: Meeanjin Markets.
Meeanjin Markets will be hosting an online festival in May, bringing all the usual Indigenous businesses and performers into the virtual world so people can experience the markets from their homes.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
28 Mar 2020 - 6:58 AM  UPDATED 28 Mar 2020 - 6:58 AM

As many conferences, gigs, shows, festivals and other major events continue to be cancelled and postponed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, organisers of the Meeanjin Markets in Brisbane are taking things online.

Disappointed at the thought of having to cancel or postpone their May markets, they decided to think outside the box.

"This is a time of such uncertainty but people still have to pay their bills, they have to make an income," Matrisse Watego, a spokesperson for the event, told NITV News.

"We didn't want to postpone and not know if that date could go ahead and we didn't want to cancel, we had to do what we could to keep the event going ahead in any way we could.

"That meant we had to think differently about how we were going to do it. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are good at thinking of unique solutions. So we've decided on a virtual festival."

Ms Watego said running a virtual festival was the best way to go ahead with the festival without putting the community's health at risk.

"The businesses have been busy working hard to stock up their stalls so we didn't want to just cancel the festival," she said.

"We wanted to try a unique approach to selling their products and support the businesses to adapt to this situation.

"We're thinking we'll pre-record an introduction from each of the businesses and they'll show some examples of their work.

"Some of the businesses already have an online presence but others don't, so we're working with those who don't to help them get selling online."

The musical lineup for the festival is yet to be announced, but performances will be live-streamed throughout the day.

Ms Watego said organisers are still figuring out exactly what the virtual market will look like and how it will work.

"We're still locking down the schedule," she said. "But this virtual festival presents a lot of opportunities, as well as challenges. It will give us a lot of learnings I think.

"But why can't we lead the way in a new approach to holding events at the moment. 

"The physical market was going to be limited to people local to Meeanjin (Brisbane), but this virtual festival will showcase their work and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, nationally and even internationally.

"Some of our food stalls were thinking what can they do, because people can't eat virtual food - but it's a chance to promote their businesses so people visit when all this is over.

"We've been really supporting the businesses to think outside the square."

First Nations artists and entertainers struggle as industry devastated by COVID-19 restrictions
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to force restrictions on mass gatherings, those employed in the arts and entertainment industry face an unprecedented threat to their livelihood. First Nations artists speak to NITV News about the impact of the unfolding situation.