Preparations for this year's Castlemaine State Festival are forging ahead with the program of the 2021 event set to be released in mid January.
Castlemaine State Festival director Glyn Roberts said he hopes this year's festival can play a part in the continued recovery of the region following the difficulties faces as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The timing feels good - knock on wood," he said. "We can play a big part in the opening recovery and emergence of culture in and around central Victoria.
"A lot of great regional events pulled the pin (in 2020). We feel, particularly in a regional context, that we're a bit like the canary in mine. We're the first one out the gate in a time where feels like it's possible."
Mr Roberts said careful consideration had been taken in planning the CSF for a COVID-normal world.
"We have designed a festival that is really flexible to potential (COVID-19) risks," he said. "It can be expanded and contracted to a certain level.
"No one can tell us we didn't know (what the situation was), we have had a while to plan how far we can go."
Assisting the Castlemaine State Festival is a $40,000 grant from the federal government's Festivals Australia fund.
Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson said the funding go towards the festival's opening night program including a performance titled Riel e Nhyier.
"Riel e Nhyier is a musical celebration of the South Sudanese culture in central Victoria," Senator Henderson said. "The project will promote social inclusion, encourage connections to culture and traditions, and showcase the performers' African heritage to a wider festival audience."
Mr Roberts said he couldn't give too much away about the opening night. he said they hoped to host a crowd of 500 people under the COVID-safe restrictions.
"In a nutshell celebration of the central Victorian Sudanese community," he said. "They have a nice, medium-sized population in Castlemaine and Bendigo and are working with Arena Theatre Company on (the project).
"There is more to be announced. Opening night usually a free-for-all and it is a shame only 500 people can be there for it, so we are working to live stream the event for free as well."
Mr Roberts said the CSF program would be launched by mid January.
"We would usually have the program launched in early December," he said. "We are now launching in mid January. We just hope people like it and are excited to come see it. People should definitely sign up to our e-newsletter and social media so they can get themselves a first-hand look."
For more details log on to https://castlemainefestival.com.au