Extended festival benefits local business
The Newtown Festival is one of Sydney’s cultural highlights – a yearly pageant of music, arts and family fun that attracts over 80,000 visitors from the inner-west and across Sydney.
For ambitious local creatives who make their commercial debut at the festival, it has often proved the gateway to success. This year, for the first time the festival expanded into Newtown Festival Week, enabling more local venues to be part of the action with events, gigs, and workshops highlighting Newtown’s cultural diversity.
Newtown Festival is the main fundraiser for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, which provides social support services for disadvantaged people in the area. "Since the festival embodies the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre’s core values, it seemed a natural step to invite some of the most popular local venues to share in the celebrations," festival director, Sue Andersen says.
The 2014 theme was 'Newtown Republic', a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the neighbourhood’s distinctive character, and from 1 to 9 November most of Newtown’s best-known venues staged events. Alpha House Gallery, The Marlborough Hotel, Corridor, Kelly’s on King, No Lights, No Lycra, The Stinking Bishops and many more took part.
Monsterthreads is just one creative business whose rise to international success spurred from selling t-shirts at the Newtown Festival 8 years ago.
"Newtown Festival presents a great opportunity for small creative businesses to get involved and get a leg up,” co-founder Mark Marriot says.
"Where else can you get face-to-face exposure to tens of thousands of friendly people for an incredibly small fee? The idea started modestly. It was a side project to earn some extra cash for me and my partner Gail, while we were completing uni. We had no idea how far it would take us ... In the early days we'd get friends to make us artworks, print t-shirts on our living room table and sell them on weekends for $25 at local markets.
"When we attended our first Newtown festival we sold out of almost every t-shirt style by the end of day, and decided then and there to aim at opening a shop in Newtown. A couple of years later we opened our boutique on King Street and, following the success of that store, we opened 4 more in other areas and now stock scores of boutiques around the country and internationally. Our range has also expanded to other art-related products – homewares, stationery, jewellery, sneakers. The point of difference is that each product is a collaboration between us and a leading illustrator, street or graphic artist.
"We might not be where we are today if it wasn't for the Newtown Festival. It helped us build up funds from the sales of hundreds of tees each year, it helped to get locals behind our brand, and most significantly, it built our confidence in our concept to the point where we took the plunge and opened our first store."
For more about Newtown Festival, visit newtowncentre.org/festival.
The City supports and produces various initiatives for retailers, including precinct-based festivals and events. Find out about our next village retail program, Christmas in the Villages.
Newtown, Erskineville, Camperdown
and St Peters
With its close proximity to the city centre and long held reputation for drawing the city's fringe, bohemian and alternative crowd, this village offers business opportunities in retail, hospitality and entertainment.
As the first suburban shopping centre outside the city centre, King Street is lined with hundreds of stores, cafés and restaurants.
A thriving theatre, music and entertainment scene contributes to drive foot traffic through the village, maintaining the precinct's reputation as an iconic cultural hub.
Leafy Erskineville has a village atmosphere and is fast gaining a reputation for its eclectic café and bar scene.
Silent chimneys mark the now-defunct brickworks at St Peters. Although still quite industrial, the small inner-western suburb maintains a strong community focus.
Incorporating the University of Sydney and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA), health, higher education and research are the biggest employers within the area.
City of Sydney
Business Precinct Coordinator
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Last updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014