White Stick Festival, a free online concert recognising International White Cane Day is coming up on Friday 15th October.

JMC Entertainment Business Management Alumni Duncan Steward has been instrumental in planning this event through his Creative Industries Management Service, Platinum Cre8ive.

International White Cane Day recognises the white cane that provides independence for over 575,000 Australians and more than 285 million blind and low vision citizens worldwide. White Stick Fest brings together more than 22 blind and low vision music artists, along with sighted contemporaries, in a global online broadcast.

This year’s impressive line-up features artists such as The X Ambassadors, Rachael Leahcar, Magic Giant, Diane Schuur & the Airmen of Note, The Wiggles, Tom Sullivan, & way more – check out the full list of performances here.

We recently caught up with Duncan to chat about the importance of WhiteStickFest and his time at JMC.

Why did you start WhiteStickFest?

In 2020 when Covid and lockdowns hit, my colleagues and I felt a need to put together a concert. We ended up with 25 local and international blind, low vision & sighted artists, bringing people together with music to celebrate International White Cane Day 2020. The event was broadcast on Vision Australia Radio with people listening in from across the globe. So far, our 2020 fest has been listened to by over 100,000 people. In 2021 we decided to make it bigger and better and go from an audio to video presentation. This time, my organisation, Platinum Cre8ive are streaming the event from  www.whitestickfest.org on the 15th October, starting from 12 noon Melbourne time.

What has your involvement with WhiteStickFest taught you about Entertainment Business Management (EBM)?

For this event, everyone is giving their time for free. I’ve learned that, at the end of the day it’s not always about money. Obviously, there are contracts, licensing of songs, copyright and other things to consider but this event has taught me that EBM is also about being part of a production that has a great message. Having lived the experience myself, I can say it brings people together and shines a light on disability for the right reasons.

Why do you think it is important to host inclusive events and how can more festivals ensure that they are creating an inclusive space for people with vision impairments?

Festivals like any other organisation or business need to be truly representative of the community. It’s hard enough to achieve in the entertainment industry but if you identify with having a disability it’s all that much harder. Whether it's boards, executive teams, or festival productions they need to be representative at all levels.

What skills did you learn at JMC that helped you get involved in the festival?

Whilst I have a business background of 25 years and an ability to build relationships, JMC gave me the theory to put into practice in WhiteStickFest. Hopefully, as restrictions ease, we can present this concert as a true live event to the public with an all-Australian line-up, which will be truly unique.

What was the highlight of your time at JMC?

I really enjoyed the collaborative projects between EBM, Film and Music departments. We were able to produce a single, managed the end of semester concerts, created a music video and presented on a red carpet.

What tips would you have for JMC students who want to get involved in festivals?

Get involved, volunteer, build a resume of involvement, have a passion and a can-do attitude, being responsible and respectful. These things get noticed. Trust, positivity, and passion are all vital to building a career in our creative industry.

Make sure you tune in to White Stick Fest on Friday 15th October 2021 from 12 pm AEDT at whitestickfest.org


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