INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Heart Open is putting females in Newcastle on the stage

It all began when Alex Morris had a disagreement with a friend about Newcastle.

“I wanted to demonstrate Newcastle's potential for greatness in terms of community-based open mics,” said Alex, who writes regular freelance articles for the Herald’s Weekender section.

So, she and friend Chloe Warren started a bi-monthly, female-focused open-mic night in Newcastle, called Heart Open.

“I didn't know Chloe that well [at the time], but I loved her stand-up comedy and thought she and I could be a good team,” Alex said.

“We got chatting with our friend and amazing local typographer Sophie Elinor Brown, and she helped us come up with the name and created our logo for us.

“Then we just invited some of the talented women we knew to come and perform in a local pub.”

Chloe’s a scientist, so she wanted to make sure decisions about where to take the event were informed by data.

“We started collecting feedback from our audiences and we hope that each show has been an improvement on the last,” Alex said.

The next event will be held on Friday at Newcastle Museum’s BHP Gallery to mark International Women’s Day.

The night will feature artists and performers. A special guest will attend to respect the location and its history.

Chloe and Alex will interview Janet Murray, a former BHP chemical engineer and blast furnace operations superintendent.

“Janet worked for nearly 20 years at the Newcastle steelworks. She's a fascinating woman with so many interesting stories.”

Alex said the event aimed to create “a welcoming and encouraging environment where female-identifying and non-binary people feel comfortable expressing themselves”. 

“It's also an open mic night and we really want to be inclusive, so we encourage all people to sign up for that in between featured performers.” 

Heart Open is promoted as a “bi-monthly celebration of creativity”.

Each event features four artists “sharing the secrets of their journey, their creative processes and inspiration”.

“We welcome poets, dancers, comedians, musicians, actors, authors, painters, sculptors, air-ukulele players … you get the gist.”