We have seen over the past year, cuts being made to the arts and we have also seen the closures of some of our favourite creative cultural events as a result. Creativity and the arts are not deemed as an important component to our current society by the government. Now is an important time to get behind and support these community based events that are trying to make a difference.
Three years since its inception, Art Party has been going strong. Providing emerging artists with a platform to get their names out there, to experiment, to grow and develop. Art Party provides the audience with the opportunity to connect with inspiring people and to be inspired themselves.
‘Art Party is a conglomeration of things, but at the moment in Sydney it’s a monthly event. A platform for emerging artists to bounce off, to get themselves known, to experiment with some of their performances and to feel welcomed in a community of like-minded artists and creators rather than to be in competition with them,’ Jessie Ray said, the founder and director of Art Party.
Art Party started in a backyard in Newtown, three years ago, with only fifteen people in attendance. Jessie had gotten into performance poetry and had inspired her friends but they didn’t know how to use that inspiration as they weren’t poets themselves.
‘I had friends who are drummers and magicians and dancers and I thought wouldn’t it be great if they could also perform on the same like-up as me, a poet,’ Jessie said.
‘It was very accepting and welcoming and it was all about the artist and not about the audience and there was a point of difference. It felt like a secret pocket of culture in Sydney and so I wanted to build on that.’
Art Party is about uplifting artists and celebrating the time they spend exploring and developing their art rather than dragging them down, competing with them or trying to steal their limelight.
It is an opportunity for the audience to connect intimately with the artist. To laugh, cry, to feel joy, to love, to be inspired, to hug and be hugged and to feel welcomed, accepted and safe.
‘Art makes people feel so wonderful, it makes them feel connected again, so I wanted to eliminate some of the competition. I wanted to create an opportunity for a really warm environment in Sydney,’ Jessie said.
‘I wanted to widen the aspect of performance in Sydney from just burlesque or poetry or music makers, to all of the above mixed into one night.’
‘The Art Party ethos is to be sharing, welcoming, friendly but also to create a starting point of business for artists and a point of empowerment.’
From humble beginnings, Art Party has grown at a pace that even the founder was not expecting. From a backyard, to a warehouse in Marrickville. Art Party was taken to the road in its second year, touring up and down the east coast of Australia, Gosford, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Byron Bay.
The event gave Sydney artists the opportunity to mix with local artist in different cities. Art Party facilitating the connections and networking opportunities for out of state artists and giving them the chance to perform in these cities.
‘It’s been crazy, overwhelming and amazing. We were really lucky to develop our friendships and we have had a few people take Art Party overseas for us, to Russia, Indonesia and Canada. We are going very well, obviously the ethos sticks out well and people are clinging to it,’ Jessie said.
‘We’ve now got an Art Party starting up regularly in Airlie Beach and one in London this month. So it’s growing, people are keen for it. We will be back in Melbourne in October and hopefully starting in Gosford monthly, next year.’
Art Party is not just about the art created by the artists. It has evolved into a socially conscious entity, whereby, the audience are asked to pay attention to things that really matter, real issues and stuff that affects all of us.
‘We try to be there for whichever is the cause of the month or if somebody comes to me wanting to help out a certain ailing community, then we will do everything we can to help out, to raise money or to give them visibility,’ Jessie said.
While still in its early stages, Art Party is going to move into collaborating with mental health institutions in the coming year. With an emphasis on dealing with issues positively, using art rather than taking the self-destructive approach through drugs and alcohol and possibly leading to loneliness, isolation and suicide.
‘A lot of people have told me that the space in Art Party is really healing for them, they can be hugged and welcomed and they can heal these vulnerable, beautiful, resplendence and celebratory things. Next year, I would like to focus on how positive dealing with your own issues can be when you deal with them through art.’
‘I want to take that one step further and allow people to connect with their mental health and with their art a bit more. I don’t but that some people aren’t creative and some people are, I think everyone is. I also think that we haven’t done put enough research into how life changing art can be.’
As many creatives know, living in a city, there tends to be a desire to separate and delineate according to category. What sets Art Party apart from other cultural based events is that they are very welcoming and are not about clique-ness.
Art Party is a genre free, in the same line-up you might find a burlesque dancer, a fire dancer and prop manipulator, a folk singer, magician or a three piece fiesta party band.
‘When we created Art Party, we had a really clear set of standards which was, everyone gets a hug when they came through the door, there is no genre standard that we stick to, everyone shuts up and listens to the performers,’ Jessie said.
‘We really are there to support our performers and artists. To show them that we are interested in what they spend all their time creating, polishing and presenting. To give them a nod and say we support you and we want to see you continue this into a professional future.’
‘I’ve never found an event where I’ve felt I was at home, where I felt that I didn’t have to know anyone there and still be able to make friends. It’s not that we have created something so special, in creating a space that’s comfortable and safe for people to be themselves, we open up opportunity.’
This year, Art Party will be celebrating its three year anniversary on September, 25th, the only way it knows how, by throwing the biggest Art Party to date. The biggest show, with the biggest names on a bigger stage at the Oxford Art Factory.
‘It’s to celebrate that we started with no money, with no contacts, no connections and no networks and we built ourselves up to being what we are now after three years’ time. We’ve also built ourselves up to pay all the artists, contributors, designers and workers in Art Party over the last three years,’ Jessie said.
The anniversary gives some of the favourite or most loved artists of Art Party from throughout the past year the opportunity to get on a bigger stage with bigger acts and to have their names on the same bill as a really established artist.
‘I would suggest you come with a healthy regard to hugging, you can certainly expect dancing, a little bit of the unexpected. We are trying to do something different with Art Party,’ Jessie said.
‘We don’t want just a standard show, we want people to be integrated. We want the audience to feel a part of it and we want our artists to be mingling a lot more.’
‘I mean we haven’t had anything like this before, it’s going to be massive and typically speaking Art Party anniversaries are full of dancing, not so much poetry, not too much sitting down, a lot more movement, a lot more flinging of paint and fun.’
Art Party prides itself on providing the audience with an environment that is safe, welcoming, accepting and above all free from people who cause violence due to the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
‘It’s gratifying that in the last three years to be able to cultivate an event where I don’t have to worry about piss heads. I don’t have to worry about drugs, broken glasses, violence, police, sexual assault, people feel safe when they come to Art Party,’ Jessie said.
‘The audience feel like they can let their hair down, it doesn’t get carried away. The venue owners have trust in is that we are not going to completely destroy the venue. We have built a really good reputation for building a really solid community.’
After the anniversary, Art Party has a big year ahead, organising the fifth Art Party in Melbourne. And teeing up another Art Party in Indonesia, while holding monthly Art Party events in Gosford, Airlie Beach and London.
‘I’m doing a few fundraisers and festivals, working closely with the Asylum Seeker Centre and The Equal Project. I’m hoping to build those relationships with Art Party next year and see how we can create some good change through the arts that we make,’ Jessie said.
‘But I want to have more of a focus on what we can give back and next year I would like to give back to the community that has given so much to us.’
On top of this, you are also giving artists the confidence to perform and to call themselves singers or spoken word poets and supporting their journey and that is a beautiful thing, as Jessie has said, not everyone is an island.
‘I never knew Art Party could get this big. I never knew it would be so successful and I never knew it would be financially viable,’ Jessie said.
‘Why should you support events in Sydney? It keeps the entire sector alive, its small money, its grassroots money, but it’s needed otherwise it can’t happen. You don’t need a lot of money, but you need a little to keep going.’
If you want to find out more about Art Party visit the website, www.artparty.com.au or visit the Facebook page. You might find yourself at your first Art Party experiencing your first every Rocking Om Hug.
‘I created the Rocking Om Hug as a way for people to connect. I am really surprised that it has worked because it is the single best ice breaker I found and you always remember the first person that you hug,’ Jessie said.
‘I think it’s a beautiful way to break through the stranger barrier. Knowing that you are in a safe space and knowing that there is going to be no creeping hands, no dodgy people around trying to take advantage when you do this, when you trust a stranger.’