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Fifteen Projects to Boost Vibrancy Across the City in 2024

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen with Big Picture Fest Newcastle Director Katerina Skoumbas in front of Goya Torres mural from Big Picture Fest 2022.

The hugely popular Big Picture Fest will extend its artistic legacy across Newcastle in 2024 as one of 15 projects awarded a share of almost $1 million in funding by City of Newcastle (CN). 


Buildings in the city CBD will become blank canvasses waiting to be transformed during the large-scale street art event, which will be held in Newcastle for the third time as part of CN’s City Centre and Darby Street Special Business Rate (SBR) program. 


The latest round of funding from the SBR program will also see the return of the popular Chalk the Walk pavement 3D art event, as well as the third instalment of the successful West Best Bloc Fest music showcase. 


Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said successful initiatives like City of Newcastle’s SBR funding program provided invaluable support for the city’s CBD business precincts and created vibrant, activated spaces for the community and visitors to enjoy. 


"SBR initiatives such as West Best Bloc Fest, which will see more than 100 local musicians perform in venues across the city, are proven to not only attract an influx of visitors but also drive new and expanded economic opportunities for our local hospitality venues, arts and cultural sector," Cr Clausen said.  

"Big Picture Fest is a great example of how Special Business Rate funding can be used to help beautify and activate our local business precincts, which not only provide a boost to the economy but supports local jobs." 


Big Picture Fest Newcastle Director Katerina Skoumbas said the popular international street art festival would return to Newcastle in 2024 thanks to continued SBR support from City of Newcastle.  "We are excited to be extending the Big Picture Fest program into the East End in 2024 with some vibrant and eclectic street art planned for our third edition of the event, "Ms Skoumbas said. 


“The SBR funding received for Big Picture Fest benefits many local businesses in the city centre. This roaming event increases the vibrancy of the City Centre by engaging visitors in an interesting way, which leads to increased visitation in the area and spending in many of our city’s hospitality venues." 


Special Business Rates are collected from businesses in Newcastle City Centre / Darby Street, Hamilton, Mayfield, New Lambton and Wallsend for the promotion, beautification and development of those precincts. 


Other successful projects under this round of City Centre and Darby Street funding include the mouth-watering return of Newcastle Food Month, Shakespeare Under the Stars, Sculptures @ Scratchley and the Devonshire St Laneway Activation Project. 

Successful City Centre / Darby Street SBR projects include: 


West Best Bloc Fest - an annual block festival curated to showcase 80 plus emerging and established local musicians spread across supporting venues around the local West End block.  

Kindle Winter Wellbeing Festival - this festival will unite the community via a calendar of bespoke events co-designed by businesses, artists and wellbeing practitioners to connect the community during winter. From music, kids’ discos, light activations, comedy and digital sensory spaces, this all-age event promotes community well-being and supports local businesses. 


Chalk the Walk, Newcastle 2024 – 3D artwork trail in key City Centre and Darby Street outdoor locations. 


Newcastle Food Month – returning in April 2024, this month-long project promotes what makes Newcastle and the surrounding precincts a gastronomic playground.  


Stories - Women of the Hunter in Photography will share the stories of over 30 local storytellers during a six week curated exhibition, coinciding with International Women's Day 2023, with public art installations, talks and practical workshops.  

Newcastle ALIVE! Winter Festival - a multi-event program featuring 100 per cent local creatives to attract more trade to precinct businesses. 


Devonshire St Laneway Activation Project - three events will be activated in Devonshire Street Laneway, to link into and support events and celebrations important to Newcastle and LGBTQIA+ communities. Each activation will run for three to four days and include visual art light projection displays, plus activities unique to each event such as pantomime theatre productions, markets, art exhibitions, and outdoor dining experiences. 


Sculptures @ Scratchley - a free public outdoors sculpture exhibition at Fort Scratchley open to all artists.   

Procession of Giants - Curious Legends will deliver two large scale events, Luminous Creatures and Whale Song to engage the community in a series of fun and inspiring activities.  


Shakespeare Under The Stars - Whale Chorus will deliver a third season of Shakespeare Under The Stars with the beloved comedy ‘Twelfth Night’ in Pacific Park and will bring an estimated 3,600 visitors into the city centre during the summer months. 

Big Picture Fest 2024 - locals and visitors are invited to watch local and international artists paint large-scale murals in real time over three days. In its third edition, this free festival program will extend into the East End through an outdoor exhibition in partnership with Iris Capital, a mentor program with The Lock Up gallery and projections on the University’s Q building.  


Newcastle Bar Awards - in recognition and celebration of bartenders, mixologists, and brewers who are moving Newcastle’s drink culture forward. The awards will run in conjunction with a program of consumer events, hosted by Newcastle venues in its lead up, together with a People’s Choice Award that will ask the community to vote for their favourite local bar.  


Reasons to visit Hunter Street Mall and Eastend Village - Ka fey café will boost local businesses in Hunter Street Mall by incentivising patrons through coordinating discounts, loyalty offers and events. 


City of Newcastle Activation Project - this project will be delivered by Newcastle Tourism Industry Group to leverage significant major events that come to the city ensuring the economic benefit is spread beyond the event itself. The funding will activate and showcase local businesses creating an excitement and energy that ensures locals and visitors alike have an enhanced experience that involves preshow specials, after party drinks, theming and branding that builds hype and showcases the City of Newcastle as a cohesive major event destination. 

Reactivation of 'Live Spots 2023 / 2024' - activating spaces other than live music venues and pubs. 


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