I’ve been living in the Inner West on & off since 2003 - I lived overseas & tried living east for a bit but it was inevitable I’d be back! It felt like home long before I moved here, a welcome escape from the suburbs where I lived as a teenager. I’d catch the train & spend my Saturdays walking up & down King Street, scouring the vintage shops & enjoying the open-minded, anything goes vibe of the place, a major contrast to where I grew up. That’s what I’ve always loved about Newtown, & I honestly hope it can retain that flavour & that’s partly why I get involved.
I’ve been going to Newtown Festival since I moved to the area & worked with them for the first time last year helping to bring it back to great local music & community rather than it becoming just another festival. I want to make sure everyone knows that this is a huge source of funding for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre & that’s why we in the local community need to get behind it. The people at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre are passionate about what they do & are always evolving which is inspiring to me. It’s a pleasure to know them & be an ambassador for the festival.
I remember the first day of year 7 walking down King St to get to Newtown High School; The wild, weirdness of the people, the mix of beautiful and ramshackle buildings and businesses... it felt safe but strange, otherworldly, vibrant and a little punk rock. Newtown changed my young views of the world and set me off on the path to be where I am now. Newtown is still a bubbling little hub of spirited, creative, free thinking individuals that have found themselves in close quarters due to values shared and respect for other peoples outputs and thoughts... like a social experiment gone right.
I've been a very proud member of the 'Newton Locals' section of Newtown Festival for the last 4 years and have helped run the bars with our mates from Mary's for the last 3. Earlier this year I really happily joined the NNC board which is an awesome group of individuals from different backgrounds who all have a real love for Newtown and an interest in creating a just, fair and supportive community that looks after everyone who calls it home.
People should get involved in Newtown Festival because it's a fantastic day out and your good time goes to funding the many varied programs run by the Neighbourhood Centre that support the marginalised in our community.
JAMES, GWEN & TRENT THOMAS
We attended our first Newtown Festival in 1990. We lived in Hopetoun Street and could hear this music coming from the Park. We popped our newborn son into his pram and we walked up to investigate. There were maybe a dozen or so stalls and a stage on a truck flatbed.
20 years later, our son’s band was opening the Essential Stage, I (James) was Chair of the Board of NNC, the Board’s representative on the Festival organising committee, and volunteering at my 14th or 15th Festival (if you see the framed Festival T shirts in the main hall at the NNC, 5-6 of them are mine).
My most important contribution was 10 or so years ago when Marrickville Council were split on whether to grant the DA for the Festival to go ahead, and I presented to them at a Council meeting, and we managed to sway them to say yes (although it was as close as the Mayor having to make a casting vote to break the deadlock).
It has always been my favourite day of the year. I love to stand on the brow of the hill, just below the kid’s playground area, and look down on the sea of humanity across the Federation Street section of the Park. So many people, such diverse a crowd, everyone happy and enjoying their community. I would look down and think “we did good here”, and all the craziness of the lead-up became worth it.
We also introduced the bucket collections (that hadn’t always been a thing), and started to turn it into more of a genuine fundraiser as well as a community event. Knowing (from my position on the NNC Board) where that money went, and what impact it had, was immensely rewarding. I can tell you that the money raised has saved lives – literally. Not many Festivals can claim that, but Newtown Festival can.
I’ve lived in the Inner West for 20 years now and feel right at home here! I love the people and community – it’s what makes this vibrant place so special. Through my blog, Humans of Newtown, I’ve been privileged to meet so many amazing personalities. Each of these people make up the collective heartbeat that is Newtown. It’s a unique place, because our community makes it so!
I wear another hat and am currently President of NNC. I’ve been coming to the Festival as a local resident for 20 years and have loved watching the event grow. The past few years have been amazing seeing an increasing involvement by local businesses and organisations. There is also an increasing understanding that this is an important fundraiser for NNC which helps so many in need within our community.
Outside of the fact that it is FUN, Newtown Festival allows us all to rally together to help raise much needed funds to help those at risk within our community. You only have to walk down King Street to see the increase in people sleeping rough on our streets. Many people forget that they are only a pay cheque or personal crisis away from potentially being placed in a similar situation. As the loving community that we are, it’s important that we all dig deep to help NNC be able to continue doing the amazing work they do.