The following positive news hit our inboxes early in the week. The Dahlsen Family, who have one of the longest surviving family businesses in Victoria, have provided East Gippsland with a state-of-the-art portable stage to – take the entertainment to the people!
In appreciation of the great support the Dahlsen Family have received since arriving in East Gippsland 155+ years ago and the commencing the business over 140 years ago the family has decided to make available to the East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC) a mobile stage/theatre, including light and sound equipment, costing approximately $180,000. This includes two generators, over 100 chairs and two adjacent gazebos for performers and ancillary equipment – it is a complete package! The cost escalated with freight, port and associated costs.
The mobile stage has been imported from Poland. It is the first to be exported from Europe, so the first in Australia. The supplier, Lumex, is an expert in low cost, quality aluminium fabrication. Lumex has produced an excellent engineered, easy-to-use, mobile but stable stage. The stage itself is 8m x 6m and takes about one and a half hours to erect. It can be towed comfortably throughout East Gippsland by a three-tonne capacity vehicle.
The computer-controlled light and sound equipment has been designed by Duncan Johnson Jnr, a university qualified engineer experienced light in sound. Duncan has designed similar equipment on a larger scale for the Sydney Opera House.
The City of Sale has an outstanding theatre complex, probably the best in Victoria, but it is Sale-centric. It would cost millions to upgrade the Forge Theatre to match Sale. The Dahlsen Family have concluded that given East Gippsland Shire is vast territory, where the towns are well-dispersed, it is a better, critical solution to take the entertainment to the people rather than people to the entertainment as happens at Sale. Our modest investment will deliver many more attendees per capita than a multi-million dollar upgrade of the Forge Theatre. We as a community should still seek grants from Government for an upgrade given the importance of this kind of activity in Gippsland. The Forge Theatre will work well with the mobile stage sharing some performances, bookings, operating staff, publicity and communications.
Other shires throughout Australia with remote towns might well follow the lead of EGSC. The number of benefits a township with limited facilities would reap would well exceed the investment cost. As such it would be good public policy for Government to make grants to Shire Councils enabling them to acquire similar complexes. This would be money well spent and greatly appreciated by the remote communities in Australia.
So the Dahlsen Family has a firm wish that every town, village and hamlet in East Gippsland (and there are about 18 of them) should use of the stage at least once a year so that local and visiting talent can be showcased including showcasing the attributes of the local area. Our objective is inclusiveness, connectedness and to create a market in East Gippsland for entertainers of all kinds at multiple locations.
As the equipment is sophisticated and sensitive it requires experienced technicians to operate. As a result, we and the EGSC have decided the erection and use of the complex should only be undertaken by Shire employees, initially Mark Johnson and Benn Sargood. The EGSC will recover the operating costs. It would be hoped that sponsors and supporting food, beverage and activity vendors would be available to help cover this cost.
If you are interested in using the complex, there is an Expression of Interest Questionnaire to streamline both the booking process and the total stage experience. Please visit contact links relating to the Forge Theatre on the East Gippsland Shire Council website.
From the Dahlsen family:
The Dahlsen Family hope the mobile stage gives great joy and pleasure to East Gippsland for years to come, particularly those in areas distant from Bairnsdale. It is the least we as a family can do in addition to the huge support we have given to many sporting bodies for generations.
The Dahlsen Family want to thank Abe Hoffman, a Dahlsen employee for managing this year-long project and Wayne Richards as a constructive link to EGSC. Abe has extensively trawled the internet for weeks to identify the Polish stage option as the best available worldwide. We also thank Duncan Johnston for his sound and lighting recommendations.
East Gippsland hamlets & townships that can benefit from the new stage:
Eagle Point, Paynesville, Metung, Cann River, Ensay, Buchan/Gelantipy, Lakes Entrance, Lake Tyres, Orbost, Mallacoota, Lindenow, Nowa Nowa, Bruthen, Omeo/Benambra, Swifts Creek, Bemm River, Marlo/Conran and Dinner Plain.