Arts & Entertainment

Newtown Festival 2019

Photo: James Tarbotton

By Madison Behringer.

This Sunday, Newtown Festival returns to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park for its 41st year in a row. Hosted and run by Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC), the Festival is one of their key annual fundraisers. With their key purpose of the Festival being By the People, For the People, Newtown Festival is an annual haven of community spirit and support. With an expected $5 entry donation, punters can enjoy a day of live music, food and drink, market stalls, a kid zone and the festival’s much-loved dog show. Other events on the day include the Eco Village, Heaps Gay Karaoke Closet and an all-new addition: Edge IRL Talks Tent, where young people are encouraged to gather and engage in conversation. 

Liz Yeo, CEO of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre spoke about the evolution of the Festival over time, from a few picnic blankets in the park to the huge event it is today. 

“While the Festival has evolved into a key event on the music festival calendar in Sydney… it has retained its special ‘Newtown vibe’ – this intangible thing which defiantly says, despite the changes which are inevitable…Newtown is hanging onto its essence – quirky, creative, accepting, inclusive – and this event celebrates that quirky creative community, while raising money to support Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.”

Newtown Festival is run almost completely by volunteers – all the artists and market holders donate their time and resources to the event. As a key annual fundraiser for the NNC, the Festival is instrumental to the Centre’s ability to support those in the Inner West who need it most. 

“The money raised for the Centre helps us continue to provide frontline services for people doing it most tough in the inner west,” said Liz, going on to say: “In a climate of reduced certainty of government funding it enables us to maintain the same level of services rather than losing staff or programs.”

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the generous community which makes this all possible,” said Liz. “We will continue to work with the whole community to fulfil its potential… Newtown Festival really is by the people for the people!”

This year, Newtown Festival will be home to a new event – the Edge IRL Talks Tent. In collaboration with Inner West Council’s EDGE Program, the IRL Talks have been curated with 12-25 year olds in mind. It aims to provide a safe space for young people to come together and engage in conversation surrounding “real life” issues, including mental health, youth empowerment, social activism, sustainability and equality. The tent will host an array of events across the day from yoga classes to talks from Australian artists and authors including keynote speaker Benjamin Law. 

Australian hip-hop artist Ziggy Ramo will be speaking at the event and spoke about what the IRL Talks Tent is all about. 

“The IRL Talks Tent is a place for dialogue. I think at times for young people the thought of social change and activism can be quite overwhelming,” Ziggy said. “There are a lot of crazy things happening around us constantly, it can be easier to cope by trying to ignore it. The tent is providing a safe space for the youth to engage in these important conversations.”

Ziggy is keen to share his personal experiences at the Festival, saying: “I can only ever talk on my own experience. The main thing I will be focusing on is not telling people what to think but just asking them to think.”

“The only thing we control is our own actions. So, we have the ultimate power. We can create immediate change within our behaviour. I definitely do not have everything figured out but I hope by talking we can all learn off each other.”

As well as hosting a range of market and food stalls, the dog show and events like the IRL Talks Tent, the Newtown Festival has a huge music line-up, featuring artists such as Australia, The Buoys, Delta Riggs and Jannah Beth. 

A local to Sydney’s Inner West, Jannah Beth is eager to perform at the Festival, saying: “I consider Newtown my home and thereby my fam so I’m working myself up to showcase my songs to all the familiar faces!”

With all the artists donating their time to the event, Jannah said: “the cause is one I feel strongly about getting behind.”

Her set is guaranteed to be a highlight of the day with Jannah saying, “As always, I hope to give the audience them feel good goosebumps, a whole lot of love and a moment to stop and enjoy being present.”

The Newtown Festival will kick off from 9.30am this Sunday at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park and is an unmissable event on Inner West’s calendar. Boasting food, drink, music, wholesome vibes and a dog show, the Festival is unlike any other in Australia. 

“That’s the beauty of the day,” said Liz. “You never know what magic moment you are going to get…you just have to be there to find it!”

Nov 10. Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, Federation Road, Lennox & Church Streets, Newtown. $5 entry. Info: www.newtownfestival.org

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