Two Newcastles: Searching for a shared context

Produced by:

In South Africa: Newcastle Creative Network (Silindile Nkosi, Dumisani Radebe, Nkule Mabaso and team)

In Ireland: Newcastle Arts Festival (Nick Mack, Austen Biggerstaff, Maryanne Flanaghan and team)

The project Two Newcastles: Searching for a Shared Context aims to stimulate the scope of visual art in the respective contexts and inspire each community through engagement with the other. Both the Newcastle Arts Festival, Northern Ireland and Newcastle Creative Network, South Africa have made the encouragement of young people into creative practice an important part of their work. NCN is passionate about seeing young people succeed in all their creative undertakings while changing their lives and enlivening the community for the better through their creative ideas and cultural innovation.

In bringing together artists (visual artists, performers, actors and musicians) from different regions (Northern Ireland, South Africa) to compare practice and explore working methods across the two communities, the project challenges the coproduction of an interdisciplinary a set of works (visual / theatrical / musical) responding to each context and encouraging fresh perspectives and new kinds of participation, against which the success of the project will be judged. The main objective of this project is the exchange of art & knowhow across national borders. The exchange is aimed at inspiring creative ideas and by working at capacity building, enlarging networks that will foster ideas for future collaboration.

Ultimately the project is envisaged as a point through which the two organisations (NAF and NCN) are to exchange expertise on how to encourage young and emerging artists within relatively disadvantaged and rural communities to reach further than what they believe is currently possible, both having recognised the potential of expanding the horizons of its artists and community by establishing collaborations with other Newcastle’s of the world and involving the greater international community in participating in the intercultural markets.

Profiles of main collaborators (bios of less than 200 words).

NEWCASTLE CREATIVE NETWORK has been creating a supportive network and database of existing and working visual practitioners in Newcastle, South Africa, and its peripheries since 2011. Its initiator, Nkule Mabaso ( is anartist, curator and researcher on collaborative artist practice. The Newcastle Creative Network focuses on community empowerment, local needs and issues, inclusive art notions approach, and sustainability. The aim of the network is to provide exposure of the artist work to the greater community and to make practitioners aware of each other and not function in isolation but rather as part of a supportive community that encourages peer dialogue and exchange. In 2012 Newcastle Creative Network received nominations in three categories at the Umvithi Rural Youth Development Foundation’s KZN Young Achievers Awards for its work in relation to craft arts, music and performance. The network also received honourable mention at the National Youth Development Agency’s South African Youth Awards.

NEWCASTLE ART FESTIVAL in Northern Ireland has been operating for four years facilitating a diverse programme of artistic works and performances taking place across the town. A key aim of the festival is to encourage creativity and strengthen links to the arts in the local area.

The programme is designed to provide a platform for local artists, encouraging initiative in ideas for performances / workshops or exhibitions and allowing them and their work to be more visible. The festival aims to showcase emerging talent, covering costs for exhibitions and workshops emerging artists cannot afford. Thirdly, it aims to draw in international artists to perform in a rural location as an alternative arts destination outside of Belfast strengthening the confidence of the community and exposing local people to international ideas and practice. NAF works in close collaboration with Newcastle Community Cinema, which has won UK awards two years running for best community cinema based on its inventive use of workshops and locations around the showing of films. The Mournes area in which Newcastle is a hub contains a vibrant mix of musical, craft and visual artists offering a stimulating basis for an exchange of ideas and work with Newcastle Creative Network

The project aims to stimulate the scope of the arts in the respective contexts and inspire each community through engagement with the other. This project will also help build relationships toward further collaborative projects and programmes in coming years.

Bringing the work of people sharing the same place name but in markedly different cultures will stimulate and inspire the creative and cultural awareness of both and enable each Newcastle to present work that challenges and updates perceptions of contemporary culture and creativity in both countries

Concept Prepared by Newcastle Creative Network Team

Project supported by as part of the SAUK Seasons 2015

SA Partners - without tagline