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How an Australian arts festival shined through COVID-19

The biggest attraction was being able to join a live audience

For Australian opera singer Cathy-Di Zhang, who has spent most of the past year singing around the house while making loaves of sourdough, the chance to perform before a live audience at the Castlemaine State Festival was a huge emotional relief. (Photo courtesy of Castlemaine State Festival)

CASTLEMAINE, Australia -- When Australian arts enthusiasts start thinking about which events they will attend over the coming 12 months, it's the big ones such as the Melbourne Arts Festival, Sydney Arts Festival, and the Adelaide Fringe Festival that usually get all the attention.

But in these COVID-ravaged times that have brought arts festivals around the world to a standstill, it was the former gold mining town of Castlemaine 120 km northwest of Melbourne that managed to successfully stage the first major arts Australian arts event of 2021: the Castlemaine State Festival.

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