Arts & Entertainment

Newtown Re-emerges

Photo: Diana Shypula

By Renee Lou Dallow

Newtown NSW, our very own mini Metropolis has been struggling, just like the rest of us, to get through this difficult time of COVID-19. For those of us who know and love the bohemian thoroughfare of King Street life has taken a bit of a different turn. Used to the crowded streets, a mixture of students, vagabonds, and even some well to do types, we are in a bit of a conundrum when all is quiet on The Newtown Front.

South Newtown, full of antique stores and vintage clothing stores, has just started to claw it’s way back.

The iconic Enmore Theatre, a venue for stars of music, burlesque and comedy, has had to close, open and close again, disrupting thespians and groupies alike. The Enmore Theatre though has come up with a unique way of selling tickets to events and booking must be done by phone and shown on your screen as you enter.

While the theatre first opened in 1912 and has a seating capacity for 1600 people, this is the first time since the renovations in the 90s that the theatre has had to turn away artists. Many have rescheduled, which is a huge relief to fans. Spirit Of The Dance has now shifted to Sunday October 11 and John Paul Young, an Australian legend, will return in 2021. Even John Edward, world famous psychic, has rescheduled for November taking an afternoon slot.

“The Enmore Theatre takes pride in connecting with fans, local and touring artists to create memorable experiences. We will continue to work closely with artists and presenters on a show by show basis.“ said  venue manager, Kellie Zois.

There is a poster project going on to revitalise King Street and eight artists have been chosen and granted the City Of Sydney relief grant to design for shop windows. Shops that need to attract customers even though only partially able to operate, and for shops that have had to close temporarily.  This initiative is being led by artist Wendy Marray who said, “I just wanted to help my fellow artists to help themselves and at the same time give back to the community that has supported them.”

On the subject of art Jonie Stephen, of Art On King, has said that they have been confidently running the whole time. “Before we used to sell a lot of mostly gifty things, but now we are selling lot’s more art materials.  Everyone just wants to do art which is great for mental health.”

There have been some problems though with stock from just about all over the world stuck on shipping containers. Brands from Italy, Germany and America amongst them. In the shop Stephen said they now have screens on the counter to make staff more comfortable and they have to limit the number of people in the shop to 15, opening and closing the doors constantly, to count people.

The Newtown Neighbourhood Centre always has it’s finger on the pulse and runs its volunteer outreach program a little differently by sending people out to the needy rather than on site. They have just expanded their outreach program to include the CBD and have just recently finished training a new batch of volunteers on how to engage effectively with the homeless. The centre provides trauma services as well as helping out with concerns people have on things that most of us take for granted, like where to find a bed for the night and how to access food.

“We essentially train our volunteers in how to engage with a rough sleeper in a sensitive manner,” said Manager, Georgia Carter.

Finally, Newtown is also well known for it’s designers and although it is not recommended to try on stuff right now it is still possible to buy online. Natalija Rushidi still has her doors open though and can be seen madly sewing away in her chic boutique in North Newtown. Her designs are distinctively Australian and reflect the unique flora and fauna of this wonderful land of ours.

Newtown has always been a mecca for all those bohemian romantics. It’s bars, cafes and cabarets will go on and on and on and…

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