The Newcastle Fringe Festival is back and plans to be bigger and better than ever before.
Organisers were forced to cancel the 2020 festival just two days prior to its launch due to COVID-19 restrictions.
However, Jonathan Biggins has agreed to help promote next year’s edition by being the first-ever Newcastle Fringe Celebrity Ambassador.
Biggins has come a long way since he played guitar in the Musical Flags – a retro surf bubble-gum pop band that was the precursor to the more famous Castanet Club back in the early 80s, but he still has a soft spot for his hometown of Newcastle.
When asked to become a Celebrity Ambassador for the Newcastle Fringe Festival, he was only too happy to oblige.
“I like giving back to the community that I hailed from,” Biggins says.
“Fringe represents artistic endeavour at its most grassroots level.
“I want to help people recognise its value, to support the artists that produce it, to acknowledge that the arts play a vital role in a healthy society, and to help get that message across.”
He sees the arts as critical at a time when fake news and conspiracy theories are blurring the truth and affecting our democracy.
As one of Australia’s best political satirists, Biggins has built a career on holding those in power to account by mirroring their behaviour and personalities on stage in the critically acclaimed and incredibly popular, Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue.
This year is the Wharf Revue’s 20th anniversary.
Vehemently opposed to censorship, Biggins is particularly pleased that Newcastle Fringe is open access – anyone can perform and artists take responsibility for whatever their message is.
“Art helps our society confront its issues, it should never be silenced,” he says.
“And it doesn’t hide behind a wall of social media – a performer stands before their audience and owns what they say, in the flesh.
“I’m proud to be representing Newcastle Fringe and would encourage everyone to get out there and support your local artists by attending the festival or streaming the shows.
“It’s often where great things begin.”
Biggins is leading the charge for artists of all persuasions to register their expression of interest in taking part in next year’s festival, which will go from 17 to 21 March.
Apart from Biggins, Newcastle Fringe has also managed to break new ground by successfully applying for grants from the City of Newcastle and the Australia Council for the Arts, ensuring that the show will go on and the festival has a future.
Visit Newcastle Fringe’s website for more details. Artist applications close on Friday 13 November.