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Watershed rises again for festival

THE Watershed is to be resurrected as the centrepiece of the Perth International Arts Festival in Northbridge despite the large losses it incurred in its first year.

The design of the performance space has been streamlined and the bar and entrance have been relocated.

In addition to the Watershed, this year will see the introduction of a new directors club the Grapevine, where artists, friends of the festival and members of the arts community can mingle after the performances.

“There is no change of focus for the Watershed, it’ s the same, we’ve improved it not changed it,” PIAF media relations manager Lyn Fisher said.

The theme for the 2001 festival is earth and the introduction of the Grapevine and other refinements are part of this thematic shift from water in 2000.

Part of last year’s budget blowout was the high cost of manufacturing the physical structure. PIAF has budgeted $140,000 for the erection of the Watershed for the 2001 festival in comparison to nearly $200,000 in 2000.

The total budget for the venue is $500,000 which remains unchanged from last year. Approximately half the budget is dedicated to paying performers and the other half covers the venue’s construction and marketing costs.

The performance venue is budgeted to break even with an occupancy rate of 50 per cent.

“If we get occupancy rates of 80 or 100 per cent we will make a profit,” PIAF general manager Frits Steenhouer said.

The programming team negotiates the performers’ fees either directly with the performers or through their agents.

“Often acts are already touring and we can share costs with other festivals,” PIAF Watershed programmer Jo Metcalf said.

The team of three programmers work together to strike a balance between local, national and international acts.

Some other changes to the venue include cushions for the steps in front of the stage and cabaret-style seating for up to 120.

Patrons will have a choice of two time slots 8pm and 11pm. The earlier performance will have a more popular appeal with a range of acts from the world music stage, and the 11pm show is dedicated to a younger audience including acts like Tex Perkins, B(if)tek and DJ Paul Malone.

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