Street party to kick off bumper New Annual program

today27 June 2024

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Newcastle City Hall’s iconic balcony will be transformed into a stage this September as renowned First Nations singer Mitch Tambo officially kicks off the 10-day New Annual festival.

City of Newcastle’s flagship cultural event will return on 27 September with a vibrant mix of immersive dance, music, visual art and theatre.

An inaugural First Night street party will set the scene for New Annual’s 2024 program, filling the precinct around City Hall with a free, all ages opening night celebration.

King Street will be temporarily closed off for the signature event of the festival headlined by Tambo, a proud Gamilaraay man who blends traditional Aboriginal sounds and language with contemporary beats.

Captivating street performances, including the visually and sonically spectacular Tower Divas, will keep the party going while digital projections by Big Picture Fest and gourmet food trucks will ensure First Night delivers a feast for all the senses.

Music fans will be in for another treat the following night, when popular Australian indie rock band Middle Kids take to the stage at the iconic Civic Theatre on 28 September, while a bumper opening weekend program will offer a range of fantastic performances, exhibitions and events across the city.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said New Annual is the catalyst for Newcastle’s cultural events sector to take centre stage alongside leading national events.

“Since launching New Annual in 2021, we’ve invested around $3 million into developing and delivering this flagship festival for Newcastle as part of our wider commitment to arts and culture in our city,” Cr Nelmes said.

“In that time, and on the back of its diverse and ambitious programs, New Annual has cemented its place in the events calendar, attracting 95,000 visitors to Newcastle across its first three years.

“The festival continues to strengthen Newcastle’s position as a cultural tourism destination, which generates an economic boost for local businesses through hotel stays and increased visitor spending in the city.”

The Civic precinct will play host to a range of events during the festival, including the return of one of Australia’s leading performing arts companies, Dancenorth Australia, whose Wayfinder production will explode onto the Civic Theatre stage in a kaleidoscopic fusion of dance, music, and visual art.

Internationally acclaimed live performance and digital theatre event Truth to Power Café will harness local stories to deliver a profound reflection on the dynamics of power at Newcastle City Hall, while the immersive installation Belongings at the Watt Space Gallery will share stories of displacement, resilience and hope from six refugees who took asylum in the greater Newcastle region.

Community engagement will also be at the heart of a temporary pavilion known as Ngumpi Kinyingarra Oyster House, which will be purpose-built in Honeysuckle’s Harbour Square. Presented by Newcastle Art Gallery, Quandamooka artist Megan Cope will use the space to deliver a 10-day participatory project celebrating local oysters, collaboration and environmental stewardship.

Honeysuckle won’t be the only new performance space popping up in this year’s program, with local family favourite Curious Legends drawing audiences down to the sand at Newcastle Beach for their immersive oceanic experience Whale Song, which fuses large-scale puppetry, community art and singing.

Harold Lobb Concert Hall at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music provides the acoustically-rich setting for a number of performances, including Rising from the Ashes: An Orchestral Suite and Matricide created by local Indigenous composer Jacob Cummins and performed by the Newcastle Youth Orchestra.

The Youth Orchestra was one of four local creative organisations included on the New Annual bill thanks to City of Newcastle’s “Made New” expressions of interest process, with a total of $94,500 offered under the program as part of a five-year plan to support the region’s arts industry.

Other Made New program highlights include WonderCity, a participatory wayfinding art adventure through the city brought to life by Tantrum Youth Arts and The Cord, a provocative new contemporary dance work by acclaimed First Nations choreographer Jasmin Sheppard, commissioned by Newcastle-based dance company Catapult Choreographic Hub. Inter Human x Intra Digital offers an immersive visual art experience delivered by Art Thinking, while Morphology will see Built In-Kind and Everett Creative collaborate with members of the public through a series of workshops to create a single sculptural piece, which will be displayed in Wheeler Place, adjacent to the Civic Theatre.

Wheeler Place will also play host to the high energy, all-ages 10-Minute Dance Parties featuring one of Australia’s most exciting artists, Joseph O’Farrell (JOF), while two shows presented under Civic Theatre’s UpStage at the Playhouse program will take to the Playhouse stage during New Annual, Romeo & Juliet: A Reimagining and the locally-inspired Karma Kafe.

Councillor Carol Duncan, chair of City of Newcastle’s Community and Culture Advisory Committee and Public Art Reference Group, said New Annual highlights Newcastle’s identity as a creative hub.

“With local artists and performers accounting for more than 50 per cent of this year’s programming, New Annual provides a platform to showcase talented Novocastrians alongside national and internationally renowned practitioners,” Cr Duncan said.

“Supporting events such as Big Picture Fest as part of New Annual also adds to the city’s history of cultural expression, with the creation of six new large-scale murals during the festival set to enhance Newcastle’s public art scene whilst creating an artistic legacy for the community.

“I can’t wait to explore everything on offer in this fantastic program when New Annual returns in September.”

New Annual is supported by NSW Government grants under the Multicultural NSW “Stronger Together” program, Transport for NSW “Open Streets” program and Create NSW, as well as presenting partner University of Newcastle.

New Annual will run from 27 September to 6 October with a program of free and low-cost events. Visit for more details about the program and to secure your tickets, which go on sale at 10am tomorrow. Book by 31 July to receive a 15 per cent early bird discount on eligible shows.

Keep an eye out for a second program announcement in coming months.

New Annual Launch 2024

Written by: Newy Staff

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