Crack is back – but how did we get here again?

Blog by Zoe Street

Another year of radical independent performances will take over the streets of Newcastle, early morning conversations on the beach and of course, a closing party where all the wildest costume ideas are unleashed. In the words of the masterful Nikki Kennedy, one of the 2016 Co-Artistic Directors, the Festival is simply, “awesome people, awesome experimental art, in an awesome location.” (Really, what more could you ask for right?!)

But before we jump into the excitement of what’s in store for 2016, let’s take a short trip back in time to where this wonderful concoction of artists, ideas and abandoned buildings all began… Where did the Festival come from? How did it get here? Is it really the love child of a bottle (or two) of good red and a fluttering moment of ferocious imagination? Well here goes…

‘Crack’ was born in 2007, as an initiative of the National Young Writers Festival (NYWF), which is one of the co-presenters of This is Not Art (TiNA), an annual festival that transforms Newcastle into a hive of innovative arts activity over the long weekend in October. ‘Crack’ was originally designed for those artists who ‘slipped through the cracks’ of NYWF and sector-wide programming, so from the start it was all about diversity, the outsiders, the fringe-dwellers harbouring untamed ideas.

Unicorn dreaming (do I look like a slut?) 2007 - Post and Nick Sun

Unicorn Dreaming (Do I Look Like a Slut?) 2007

Since our explosive and chaotic beginnings, the Festival (now officially known at Crack Theatre Festival or CTF) has slowly collected audiences and artists and developed into an event that has made its mark on the experimental, emerging and independent performing arts landscape. When we reached 2014, CTF received three year Australia Council Funding and introduced Setting the Stages, an initiative that funds an artist from each state and territory to come to Newcastle and perform their work. This initiative was a sure-fire way for us to skyrocket our goal of becoming a truly national platform for artists, to perform and experiment with their work. This has proved a success, and it has been truly fantastic to see artists from every crack in Australia connecting and supporting each other TiNA-wide.

2015 CTF Workshops

Artists at the 2015 CTF Workshops

So back to the present…This year is a pretty dark place for artists right now considering the recent funding cuts to so many of our friends and partners. Whilst we can’t deny the impact of these cuts, we will use our Festival as an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate the courage of artists creating extraordinary work that needs to be seen.

As Nikki so aptly puts it, “even though things seem dark there are still places that amazing and important art can exist, and where you can develop your contacts and your work” (God she’s good!).

So this year we are making sure we can provide as many opportunities with you, our tremendous artists and audiences. Word is that there will be some serious cross-pollination between all the co-presenters and maybe something to do with all those women that applied this year.  So ensure your seat belts are fastened, your body in an upright and comfortable position and take note of your fastest route to Newcastle, because you are in for the ride of your life at CTF 2016!

Zoe Street is Crack Theatre Festival’s newest family member, volunteering her time as Field Reporter and Marketing Assistant. Zoe is an emerging theatre maker from Perth whose interest lies in the culmination of contemporary theatre and performance practice with the field of social research. She spends much of her time getting (very) riled up by social injustice and trying to figure out what to do about it. Hobbies include intense people watching, playing hockey and drinking strong coffee.