Ballet beamed by satellite in Oz

By Patrick von Sychowski | September 24, 2007 10:11 pm PDT

Cinema goers in remote part of Australia will soon be able to watch live ballet from the Sydney Opera house at their local multiplex. It is the latest in the snowballing alternative content market for cinemas that truly began with the Metropolitan Opera’s live transmissions worldwide. The article in the Sydney Morning Herald tell us about the event set for 7 December in the Tasmanian city of Devonport:

Devonport is one of eight regional centres – the others are Port Augusta, Yarram, Hervey Bay, Katherine, Wagga Wagga, Singleton and Albany – which will get the live feed using the Australian Film Commission’s [AFCs] Regional Digital Screen Network [RDSN]. The 7pm performance will also be broadcast live to an audience on the Opera House forecourt.

Announcing the broadcast yesterday, the Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan, said: “This is the first time in Australia that digital cinema technology has been used to give regional audiences the opportunity to experience a live performance by one of Australia’s flagship arts companies on the big screen at the same time as an audience in a metropolitan area.”

Given that like many of these cultural event they are subsidized by tax payer money (though not the MET), it is only right that people from all over the country should have access to them. So if people can’t come to Sydney or one of the larger cities that the Australian Ballet tours to, the ballet comes to the large screen near them. In this case Wagga Wagga. A similar thing has happened in Sweden – another sparsely populated country – where the Royal Dramatic Theatre will send a transmission of its latest Strindberg production live to digitally equipped cinemas in smaller villages in the outback later this year.

Australia’s RDSN has come under criticism because unlike the UK Film Council’s DSN it is not set up to comply with Hollywood’s digital cinema requirements, so it is interesting to see it finding use for spreading culture even other than those of Australian and independent films in digital.

Patrick von Sychowski
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