Marketforce started working with the committee and NT events team for Parrtjima A Festival in Light back in 2021. First launched in 2016, Parrtjima has grown free to become a free 10-night festival in the heart of Alice Springs (‘Mparntwe’ to the local Arrente people) that heavily integrates local communities, artists and their extended families. Much more than a light festival, Parrtjima is a cultural experience and celebration of the First Nations Arrente people and the survival of the world’s oldest continuing culture.
But the Parrtjima story was at a crossroads. First conceived and run by the same Sydney-based AGB Events team who made Vivid Sydney such a runaway success, Parrtjima needed to be controlled and grown by the local Aboriginal communities and artists themselves. The consultation process was deep and ongoing, with the establishment of a local Arrernte advisory committee of Elders and their families. Marketforce was charged with running several key workshops with the Elder group and remote artist communities, as well as creating the brand narrative and communications collateral that would authentically tell the story of Parrtjima to a local, regional, national and international tourism audience.
We knew that there was no way to integrate the various politics, passions and principles of the Arrernte community, artists and stakeholders without stepping foot on Arrernte Country. So we jumped on a plane (actually, several of them). We adapted our strategical narrative sessions to suit a remote bush environment, which included cultural exchanges such as explaining our bloodlines, family connections and relationship with Country before every meeting. A series of lengthy storytelling workshops helped to separate the glitz and technical logistics of the incredible Parrtjima light installations from their roots as cultural stories, personal connections to culture and Country, and the legacy that every stakeholder wanted to leave for their families.
We drove out to remote artist communities hundreds of km from the town centre, sat under Mulga trees out bush and went deep with the stories the Arrernte, Luritja and Pitjantjatjara people wanted to tell. It was a trust building exercise for the Darwin-based NT Major Events organisation who were charged with running and promoting the event, and the communities and artists who were so vital to continuing the success and growth of Parrtjima.
The growth of Parrtjima A Festival in Light is, in many ways, impacted by the remote Red Centre and the ongoing ramifications of COVID on flight prices and accommodation. But against all odds, Parrtjima continues to thrive as one of the most important events on the Alice Springs/Mparntwe calendar. Parrtjima has set records in every year of its collaboration with Marketforce, with another record-breaking 2,3445 people attending in 2022 and total expenditure stimulus of $14.7 million for the town.
This work required Marketforce to liaise our working group across multiple different groups, agencies and stakeholders across Western Australia, Northern Territory, and South Australia. We were able to facilitate a shared production schedule with television and stills production companies in the Northern Territory and South Australia, as well as local production handled by Flare in Western Australia.
We created a central hub for production responsibilities from Marketforce in Perth, which was all handled via our in-house producer. All assets created by our partner and external houses was then centralised within our in-house workflow to minimise double handling, and create work efficiencies across multiple assets and retouching requirements etc.
We now see the Parrtjima experience as an important culture bridge for both Marketforce Group and the wider network, and continue to create communications and marketing collateral for a wide tourism audience.