Image: The Newsagency – supplied.
Early in 2017, the closure of Sydney’s tiniest music and arts venue left a Newsagent-sized hole both in our hearts and in Sydney’s live music scene. For five and a half years, The Newsagency in Marrickville served as a gateway for musicians and artists from all backgrounds to showcase their work in a city where doing so wasn’t always easy. At a capacity of just forty people seated mainly on primary school chairs, the venue was intimate, communal and inspiring – everything an independent arts-focused space should be. Thankfully, the Newsagency’s closure was short-lived, as a relocation and complete revamp breathe new life into the much-loved creative hub.
Now with a capacity of 100 people and a brand-new PA while remaining BYO and artist-led, the self-styled NEWsagency will be located in Annandale. Bookings manager and brains behind the operation, Alison Avron, lists her aims for the new-and-improved space. ‘My ‘grand plans’ are to keep the same listening environment vibe – just double the size! I’m really pleased to have my Assistant Venue Manager, Zac Ruokari, coming over from Carriageworks to help me make the space look and sound great.’ Avron also aims for the venue to be ‘inclusive for all types of performers’, with the addition of a baby grand piano potentially appealing to cabaret and other creative and unconventional acts.
After securing a grant from the AMP bank, Avron was encouraged to contact local council and ended up negotiating with Anthony Albanese’s office, and former mayor of Leichhardt Darcy Byrne, to secure the venue location and begin refurbishing. For creative spaces such as the Newsagency, these contacts are vital as these spaces form an integral part of the community. Avron believes the Newsagency and other such independent arts-focused spaces are important to get people started: ‘they’re a great platform for artists who are wanting to develop their craft. The more venues we have – the more art can be made – the happier people are!’
When asked how people can support such creative spaces, Avron is quick to clarify that Sydney’s independent arts scene is not a charity. It is not ‘supporting’ that we should be doing, but creating art and engaging with the community. Essentially, going out to gigs and being an active part of the music and arts scene. ‘I really try to steer clear of saying ‘support live music’ – it has such negative connotations. When I think of what needs ‘supporting’ it conjures up images like sick people and cancer research. Rather, I feel we should be announcing ‘Embrace, Encourage and Enjoy Live Music!’ because it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of that enriches your life. One of the best things is that there is a style for everyone. If you love hip hop or folk, punk, sound art, or opera, there is bound to be some of it playing in your city – you just need to go looking!’
The Newsagency’s first gig is this Friday July 21 featuring Taryn La Fauci.
The official opening of the Newsagency is on Wednesday August 16 featuring the Newsagency Sessions with Sarah Belkner, with Avron also performing herself. More info on both gigs here.
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