The Mount Isa Blast
An outdoor theatrical spectacular created for, by, and with the Mount Isa community.
Celebrate the richness and resilience of the Mount Isa region, showcasing the town’s strengths and contributing meaningfully to community cohesion. Create opportunities to highlight the creative and artistic talents of the Mount Isa community, who have been impacted by volatility in the mining industry and prolonged drought.
The Mount Isa Blast featured stellar performances from a cast of hundreds of locals, including the globally-renowned didgeridoo artist and Australian icon William Barton, Megan Sarmardin with BullDust, and Mount Isa Community Ensembles Inc (MICE). The Blast celebrated the past, present, and future of Mount Isa, uniting the community in song. Importantly, it was an act of truth-telling about the massacre of the Kalkadoon people at Battle Mountain.
Months Spent in Community
Developed over 18 months, the Mount Isa Blast culminated in three shows celebrating this resilient community, which were performed to a cumulative audience of 7,400. Named after the infamous mine blasts that shake Mount Isa twice a day, the production drew on the region’s rich history and the wealth of musical talent nurtured in and by the community over decades.
The project was founded on the cross-generational participation of 230 community members, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, who together created a spectacular performance featuring a full symphony orchestra, a mass choir, aerial gymnasts, motocross riders, and even a cattle drive! The project was developed after extensive engagement and in-depth consultation with the local Kalkadoon people, who shared the richness of their culture and, significantly, entrusted QMF to tell the story of the infamous 1884 Battle Mountain massacre. This was the first time this history had been publicly explored in the community, creating a rare and significant opportunity for reconciliation and healing.
We are all creative people... Creativity speaks where many words fail. The Mount Isa Blast was a microcosm of the kind of respect, creativity, and even an avenue for healing that can be brought to the rest of Queensland...even to the rest of Australia!Participant
Amazing - gave the local community so many opportunities, enhanced cultural arts, and inspired younger children and also adults to enrich themselves with music and performing, for the first time, or in the near future. This event gave so many people the chance to come together, network, and be inspired by something positive. This gave people a lot of reasons to be more positive about their town and enjoy where they live.Audience Member
Among the most immediately impactful of the program’s outcomes were the extensive skills development and capacity-building results for the local community, achieved through a series of intensive workshops, tutorials, and rehearsals with professional artists and creative professionals.
The scale of the community involvement, including a significant youth contingent (bolstered by QMF’s activities and workshops in schools), as well as the duration and scope of the engagement process (18 months), meant that the project catalysed the strengthening of community ties, building a sense of togetherness and resilience in the face of significant ongoing economic and social challenges. At a time when national attention is increasingly focused on the cities and coastal areas, this project celebrated the unique identity and creativity of one of Queensland’s most remarkable regional communities.