Ladies and Laughter Dominate This is Not Art Festival Program

Natalie Tran, the Australian YouTube sensation with 1.7 million subscribers to her cult comedy “Community Channel”, and former Triple J Breakfast host and comedian Tom Ballard are just two of the big names on the This is Not Art Festival line-up for 2015.


The full program for This is Not Art (TiNA) Festival has been released with over 180 individual events booked to run across four days in Newcastle over the October Long Weekend. All events, including master classes and workshops, are free to attend and open to the general public. Between the Crack Theatre Festival, The National Young Writers’ Festival and Critical Animals, the latter of whom are concerned with exploring curious and uncharted niches in contemporary art and critical thought, audiences can expect a diverse selection of the weird and wonderful, important and unexpected.

In a celebration of diversity, TiNA will showcase events that feature themes of identity and sensory journeys that explore gender, culture and place through a range of storytelling processes and artistic mediums. Audiences will also hear from a whole host of smart, powerful and creative women killing it in their fields, such as YouTube sensation Natalie Tran. With over half a billion views on her short satirical video observations about everyday life, Tran will participate in two separate events that will reveal her personal insight into the world of vlogging, writing visually and working collaboratively.

There are also ample opportunities to get audiences chuckling as our presenters poke fun at everyday life. Tom Ballard, the youngest person to ever win the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Best Newcomer Award and also the youngest person to host Triple J’s breakfast show, is now a relative comedy veteran with sold out shows and national tours to his name. He’ll be sitting on a panel discussing an insider’s/outsider’s view of #auspol with Critical Animals and then partaking in a hilarious comedy game show that pits the National Young Writers’ Festival’s best minds against each other.

The Big Issues are also investigated and things will be getting serious as the festival examines our impending water shortage, living with schizophrenia, Australia’s politics on the world stage, freedom of press and whistleblowing, and the dark side of the Internet.

In the coming decades, we are going to experience a gradual but undeniable shortage of clean water. In a recent report the UN predicted a 40% shortfall in the world’s water supply by 2030. How are we going to deal with this? The way we use water is full of complexities and contradictions, but how do we manage this problem? Is there a backup plan? Crack Theatre Festival presents ‘Hectoring Apocalyptica’ – an interactive performance that may not have the answers, or even all the questions for that matter, but will go there none the less.

Local talent is also observed with Newcastle-based new media artist Andrew Styan, joining the Critical Animals exhibition ‘RE: Location’ and exploring the ways that art can shift public awareness on environmental issues and the complex challenge of climate change. After 30 years as a metallurgist in the steel industry, Andrew took a new direction, completing a degree in Fine Art in 2014, and now building a practice based on kinetic sculpture, interactivity, video and installation. He has exhibited locally and in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane and is the recipient of the 2015 Harold Schenberg Art Prize for tertiary graduate artists.

Adding to the impressive bill of talent and inspired minds presenting on other various topics will be:

  • James Colley – Young Walkley nominated satirist, founder of SBS Comedy’s The Backburner, writer for The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, researcher for Gruen and comedy producer on FBi’s Backchat.
  • Zainab Zahra Syed – Pakistani activist, spoken word poet and graduate from Brown University.
  • Deborah Franco – CEO of Currency Press, Australia’s oldest, independent performing arts publisher.
  • Justin Buchta – Theatre-maker trained at Jacques Lecoq Theatre School in Paris and Sydney College of the Arts MVA, currently teaching at the Australian Theatre for Young People in Sydney.