Sydney Uni Verge Festival

Written by Toby Smith on August 29, 2008

By Verge Arts Festival Co- Director Max Rapley.

What is Verge? Well, it’s an arts festival, but who knows what the hell that means. The arts can be anything, from the Sistine Chapel to bathing in cat piss and setting yourself on fire. It’s a flexible term at the best of times. I prefer to think of Verge as a philosophy. It’s an evolving phenomenon. What started as an idea to consolidate various on campus events has grown into an Arts Festival that is learning how to be much more.

It’s about students expressing themselves; a launch pad for an Artistic Community to explode into Sydney. It’s the closest thing to a fringe festival that Sydney has and we’re really keen to see it expand in scope and appeal. There is so much potential for it to grow beyond the confines of the University grounds and bring in people from all walks of life to share in artistic endeavour and experience.  That’s the dream anyway, but it’s a good dream, and one that looks like it may actually happen. It’s been a lot of work; a lot of 15 hour days and working weekends, but it’s definitely been worth it. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for a young artist; to be running my own arts festival at 21 is pretty damned exciting.

It’s not just the events either. We’ve tried to explore all avenues of creative communication. This year sees the launch of a new and improved website. Artists have been submitting their works, music and films in the hope that they can reach wider audiences. That’s one of the hardest things about being a young artist. There aren’t a lot of gallery spaces or theatres in Sydney, and if MySpace has taught us anything it’s that the internet is an excellent tool for getting yourself out on the market.

Not everyone wants to go to art school or music school or acting school or film schools. They can’t teach you how to be creative, that comes naturally, and they can’t teach experience – that comes through time. They try to teach you how to do a thing in a standardised way so that you can enter the ‘creative industries’. You submit to the gurus and they share with you their expert knowledge. Excuse my cynicism but I object to formalised creative training. If anything something like Verge is a richer environment.

As for the program, it runs for two weeks in September. This year is all about quality over quantity. The festival is a week shorter in 2008 (its 6th year running) which has let us put more time and energy into planning and promoting fewer events. The result will be a well oiled machine of performance, parties, art and music. We’ve created a program that doesn’t just appeal to the University community. Our goal is to see an influx of outside influences. Here’s a taste:

We have Jay Katz presenting a night of film and music with DJs from MUM and The Wall taking the party well into the morning.
CODA are playing along with up and comers Cloud Control, and they’re supported by some of the hottest kids of gyp-rock WIM and I Like Cats. This night is going to be freaking sweet. CODA are one of the most under-rated bands in Sydney and their support are hand-picked newcomers who are growing a new crop of rock from mountain halls and bedroom studios. Definitely an event to look out for.
Some of the dopest free-stylers in Sydney bring you SKETCH the Rhyme; Hip Hop meets visual art in this interactive and improvised musical performance where artists sketch the freestylin’ words of rappers and rappers freestyle to the sketching of artists.

The Night Markets and Zine Fair will return, with more stalls including the cream of the Glebe Markets crop, second hand records, clothing, jewellery, buskers and live bands. Students will also be selling and trading their self-published zines. Throw Shapes an online zine will also be there running workshops on grassroots media and getting your voice heard.

The festival runs from 1st-14th September in all sorts of venues around town, check out the full program and line up at http://www.vergeartsfestival.com.

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