Getting Engaged – Harvey Shows The Way On Community Engagement

When David Marshall and his Cultural Centre Crew booked the acclaimed work 52 Hertz to play the Harvey Recreation and Cultural Centre (HRCC) part of the motivation was to help people in their town through some of their own challenges.

The play by Terence Smith deals with the theme of disconnection amongst young people in the modern world around an underlying theme of the loneliest whale in the world.

It was written with the isolated town experience in mind and has a very strong connection for regional youth.

Regional areas have had higher than average mental health issues in recent years and 52 Hertz was very relevant to many in the region, especially young people.

The Harvey team delivered a significant engagement strategy with relevant markets in the lead up to the tour. This had to take into account that the performing space they use does not have a notable youth audience for performing arts.

Initially, it installed a “Blue” Tree in the foyer of the very high traffic community venue to help people connect with each other – the tree carried this messaging:

We all feel alone at times, but when your experiencing loneliness it can feel like you’re the only one. 52 Hertz is a play that seeks to reassure us that we are not alone. Fill the tree with positive thoughts and let people know they are not alone and that there is help out there. REACH OUT.

HRCC developed a partnership with the Harvey College of Agriculture and had the 52 Hertz crew engage on-site with students via a “taster” performance and sharing a meal with them. The college pre-purchased tickets and encouraged all staff, students (and parents) to attend.

The students and the town were invited to a ‘get-together’ sausage sizzle and soup at the venue prior to the performance, provided by the College and HRCC. This event helped bring people of all ages together to be connected and included live music from local performers.

One of the Harvey team, Tanya Cherubino, also attended a seminar at the national youth mental health provider Headspace in Bunbury. After hearing about 52 Hertz, Headspace was very keen to send some of their staff to Harvey for the performance and bring others from around the region.

Headspace promoted the show to their clients and, as a result of the discussions and attending the 52 Hertz event, are working on building stronger links for the future with the Harvey community.