This Is Not Art launches program for 20th edition

INNOVATIVE: The This Is Not Art Festival has always attempted to pose questions and start discussions during its 20-year history.
INNOVATIVE: The This Is Not Art Festival has always attempted to pose questions and start discussions during its 20-year history.

FAKE news game shows, spelling bees for adults, a critique of Newcastle’s quirky architecture and a late ‘90s themed music night.

These will all be featured and much more when Newcastle’s This Is Not Art Festival turns 20 on September 28 to October 1.

This year’s 150-event program was officially launched at the University of Newcastle Gallery on Thursday night, with a musical performance by Crack Theatre Festival artist Cosmo Gelzinnis and poetry readings by National Young Writers’ Festival artists.

Since launching from humble beginnings in September 1998 TiNA has become one of Australia’s leading independent contemporary arts and media festivals. 

The festival’s name was taken from a graffiti tag on the decrepit Latec House, formerly the tallest building in Newcastle. The Pinnacle Apartments now occupies the site in Hunter Street.

From day one TiNA has prided itself on innovation. 

“I think what keeps it different all the time is there’s an annual artist’s call out, which means we’re constantly responding to new and emerging ideas and arts practices,” festival producer Christina Robberds said.

“There’s different things on the world’s political stage that find their way onto the program.”

In 1998 TiNA held workshops on building websites and using the internet, and connectivity remains a strong focus. This year’s program features singalongs, blogging, poetry, gaming, cartooning, a spelling bee, dance, roving artist talks, witchcraft, drama, comedy, songwriting and many of the performances are interactive.

“We’re very much trying to create opportunities for people to not only come and watch things, but to participate as well and get a feel for contemporary arts in Newcastle,” Robberds said.

To celebrate the 20th edition National Young Writers’ Festival alumni have been invited to return for an evening at Newcastle City Hall, which will feature music from the late ‘90s.

Notable alumni include TiNA and Renew Newcastle founder Marcus Westbury and author Benjamin Law.