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Arts to shine at inaugural festival in Newcastle


Dancing, puppeteers, smoke and lights. City of Newcastle put on a show today to announce its new flagship arts festival.

‘New Annual’ will run from 12 to 21 February next year, with a program showcasing dance, live music, art displays and presentations.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the event would be a relief for the sector after COVID-19 brought it to a standstill.

“We started the concept of bringing all of the creative industries and arts together to create a cultural event here in the City of Newcastle to act as a platform to celebrate and showcase our local artists, but also to attract cultural tourism to the City of Newcastle.”

It comes as welcome news for Mitchell Reese, the Artistic Director at Curious Legends.

“Ninety per cent of our work evaporated over night with COVID and council was very generous and said: ‘We will continue with this commission and push it back a little bit until February,’” he said.

Dancers from Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub will also perform at the festival, something founder Cadi McCarthy said was a fantastic opportunity.

“This event for Catapult is incredible in that we get to showcase our work as a professional dance organisation here in Newcastle,” she said.

 “More importantly, after COVID, it’s allowing me to employ eight professional dancers and a composer, which is really important at the moment due to a lack of arts opportunities available.

“When COVID hit, we had very little work and it’s been City of Newcastle’s support for this project that’s allowed us to carry on.”

Forty artists are expected to be employed as part of the festival, which has been assisted through two grants from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Cr Nelmes hoped the event would provide a boost to the local economy in the years to come.

“If it runs in spring time and fits in with Melbourne and Sydney fringe festivals, we will be able to attract global artists performing alongside local talent and really have a significant event that not only provides working artists a platform and employment, but fills up our cafes and hotels,” she said.

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