A premier and a casino boss are the puppetmasters who will help bring the world’s biggest puppet show to WA.
The Giants will make an exclusive Australian appearance in Perth after Premier Colin Barnett pulled some strings to secure the massive marionette street parade for the 2015 Perth International Arts Festival.
The State Government has injected $2 million into the $5.4 million public spectacle to open the festival and mark the Anzac centenary.
Crown Resorts chairman James Packer’s new $200 million philanthropic foundation has also contributed $1 million towards the event.
Crown Resorts Foundation has signed on as a presenting partner, while Hawaiian has come on board as a major supporting partner. The University of WA has boosted its initial commitment.
Produced by French outdoor arts event company Royal de Luxe, The Giants will depict the story of a girl in the Breaksea Island lighthouse off Albany who relayed messages to troopships before their departure for Gallipoli.
From February 13 to 15 next year, an 11m deep sea diver and a 6m little girl character will roam streets around Langley Park and the city, portraying an uncle and niece reunited 100 years after the Gallipoli landing.
“Some may not know the significant role that Fay Howe - the little girl in the Albany lighthouse - played for the troops moored off Albany’s coast," Mr Barnett said.
“She signalled to the departing fleet in morse code, becoming the last human contact the young soldiers would ever have with Australia. Weeks later, postcards began arriving from the Middle East addressed to ‘The little girl on Breaksea Island’, from the men who had hung on to that final memory of home.
“Hopefully, now this story will forever be remembered as The Giants bring this tale to life.
"For today’s generation of children to learn something of the heartache of the events that took place 100 year ago the story needs to be told in a contemporary way.”
Mr Barnett said the taxpayer contribution was significant but would not have been made without the added funds from the private sector.
"It did look as recently as a few weeks ago that we would not be able to raise the money and I cannot thank enough the corporate sector of WA who came to the party when they knew we were getting close,” he said.
The West Australian revealed last month that Perth was likely to miss out on one of the world’s greatest free public spectacles because the Festival had fallen $2 million short of its target to secure the show.
The reaction to that news prompted Royal de Luxe to extend the booking deadline so Festival organisers could drum up more support.
State funding will come from Lotterywest, Tourism WA and the Department of Culture and the Arts after extra appropriations were approved by Cabinet.
Crown Resorts chief executive Barry Felstead said he was delighted the Crown foundation's first WA arts partnership had helped secure the event for Perth.
The additional funding still leaves the Festival with a $500,000 shortfall but artistic director Jonathan Holloway said he was confident of reaching the target through crowd-funding and in-kind support by the time The Giants arrive next year.
The event is backed by the Returned and Services League, whose State president Graham Edwards said the story would touch the hearts of young Australians and promote the Anzac legend and heritage.
Royal de Luxe has performed The Giants to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.
The show will be performed in Liverpool this weekend to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I.
Mr Holloway said he expected one million people to attend the three-day event in Perth, which would draw international attention to the city, have a $65 million impact and reach out to school students around the State through an arts-in-education program.
“We hope it will provide a fitting tribute to WA’s role in World War I and at Gallipoli,” he said.
The 2015 Festival runs from February 13 to March 7.