The people of WA may be deprived of seeing one of the world's greatest free public spectacles at the next Perth International Arts Festival - unless a financial white knight comes to the rescue.
Organisers have fallen frustratingly short of securing The Giants, a three-day street parade of 10m-tall marionettes, to open the Festival and commemorate the Anzac centenary next year.
After 18 months of fundraising and other preparations, artistic director Jonathan Holloway has admitted he is on the brink of defeat. It had not been possible to raise the final $2 million of the $5.7 million needed by this week's deadline, he said.
The giant puppets were to depict the story of a girl in the Breaksea Island Lighthouse off Albany who relayed messages to troopships before their departure for Gallipoli.
Mr Holloway said the event had a projected economic impact of $65 million and an educational program embracing every school in the State.
"It would have attracted an audience of around a million people and put Perth in the international spotlight," he said.
Staged by French street theatre specialists Royal de Luxe, the event had the backing of war veterans. In an open letter to prospective financial supporters, Returned and Services League State president Graham Edwards described The Giants as exciting, visionary and innovative.
"The visual attraction to children and the broader community will also help convey the Anzac story in a most memorable, interactive and respectful way," Mr Edwards said.
Mr Holloway said The Giants would have exceeded the spectacle and excitement of the Place des Anges aerial feather show which opened the 2012 Festival.
"We do believe in angels but barring a miracle, it simply isn't possible," he said.
"If we were within $1 million of the target we could have gone ahead because we would have had the confidence that a combination of philanthropy, fundraising, government and international government support would have got there."
Different versions of The Giants story have been performed to 10 million people around the world, including in Liverpool to mark the 2012 centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.
The 2015 Perth Festival runs from February 13 to March 7.