Sydney, get your Arts on!
By Janis Seftel
“It was great. Really good vibe. But it didn’t really feel like anyone my age was there. I told my friends about it, but I guess people had things on.”
If you’re young, artsy and a member of the tribe, you might say something along these lines after going to a worthwhile but basically under-attended event. With so many students doing tertiary study related to their talents and passions, why, upon graduation, do they find little scope for the championing of their work in the community? London, New York, Toronto and San Francisco – these are the hubs we always hear about, where promotion is central to the scene. But in Sydney, your friends are your publicists, and only a few lucky ones leap straight from an article or a recording on their own blog, to international renown. Musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers must work incredibly hard to achieve recognition, often without the launching pad of internal support. We’ve all heard of the Ben Lees and Steve Toltzes in our midst, but it’s not many who become a household name.
If you’re interested in the arts programming of the Australian Jewish community – where it’s actually headed and how you might be able to contribute – you are likely to be genuinely excited by the enthusiasm our community is sharing for its upcoming ventures. The surge of support for Shir Madness, the first Sydney Jewish Music Festival on the 15th of August, is testament to a growing focus on maximising local talent. However, on reviewing the line-up, many cluey, connected young adults were mystified that they didn’t know more of the acts and the talent behind them. So I wonder, why don’t we know about so many aspiring artists in our community? Just how important is a young, vibrant Jewish arts scene to you?
If you’re already a Shir Madness groupie, check out the third Sydney Jewish Writers’ Festival just ten days later, running from 25-29th August, 2010. As any seasoned festival-goer knows, one of the best parts is the momentum you feel in the lead-up to festival events. So, the time is now to engage in what this year’s Writers’ Festival has to offer. We’re talking songwriters, click here; screenwriters, read here; and a guy who everyone thought was too young to be a magazine editor, here. The 2010 Festival has broadened its focus to include screenwriters, magazine editors, digital publishers and bloggers, but will also be widening its guest list with the Young Emerging Writers project. This new initiative has three bases covered; first, highlighting a ‘top 10’ of sessions for the 18-35’s, a blessing for over-committed uni students and busy young professionals who can now take the guess work out of a packed program.
The musical magic continues after Shir Madness; keep your hand in the scene at the Writers’ Festival After Dark on Thursday 26 August where Old Man River and Adrian Deutsch will play some tunes and talk about their work. This is an amazing chance to get to know the exceptional talent existing on our shores and how they got to where they are.
And for all of the emerging writers amongst us, in the media, publishing, the film industry and the freelance scene, Young Emerging Writers Night on Saturday 28 August presents Steve Toltz, Ben Naparstek and Cathy Randall in a different kind of setting to the rest of the festival. Young adults will have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with successful and inspiring guests, hear their impressions of the arts industry and what it was like to start at the beginning.
Young Emerging Writers is a first-time project – make sure you can say you were there.
The SJWF runs 25-29 August 2010 at Shalom College, UNSW. Book your $50 full festival pass at www.sjwf.org.au
Janis Seftel is a Program Assistant for the Sydney Jewish Writers’ Festival.