Dave Evans and Tamara Campbell’s vision of bringing the fun and community spirit of European village arts festivals to Kiama will become clearer this year when all of the action will take place down at Black Beach.
The Kiama-based globe trotting street performers have an unwavering belief in the importance of community arts festivals and see the potential of the KISS Arts Festival to develop into a major event, along the lines of the Fremantle Street Arts Festival. In a short time the latter has grown to be Australia’s largest outdoor theatre festival with over a million attendees each year.
Dave and Tamara reckon that our proximity to Sydney will give us an extra advantage in attracting visitors and funding support. At the moment, the Festival is operating on a shoestring budget, and they are volunteering their time, connections and expertise to give the festival the kickstart it needs.
There are two new central elements in the pair’s strategy this year: creating a festival village around the Harbour and getting the community involved in owning the event.
“We will be creating a shanty town, maritime village around the harbour where our audience can be transported into a fantasy land of entertainment, interaction and experience the unexpected” says Evans.
“We have three mini venues, a free standing aerial rig, video installations, traditional seaside attractions, food stalls sourced through the Kiama Farmers Market, The Ray White Main Stage and then a whole program of entertainment on the water itself. This year’s Festival promises to be much bigger than before and jam packed full of amazing, free entertainment.”
Community involvement in the Festival will come from a number of fronts, including helping to make feature lanterns to include
in the Night Lights program and sports and social groups competing in the inaugural raft race across the harbour. Local schools and music groups will also be involved, and on the Saturday afternoon the crowd will be organised into a giant NO to show their support for keeping Kiama independent.
The Festival Directors have announced a top rank line-up of international performers for this year’s revamped event, which is being held on the last weekend in April. “We are sticking firmly to the original KISS format of mixing world class, international street theatre performers with local talent,” says Dave.
This year’s performers include magician Liam Power, hula hooper and romance seeker Eloise Green, comedy street and circus act Mr Spin, an internationally acclaimed man in the moon interactive video projection, Daniel Nimmo’s Duke Dreamer, musicians Tijuana and the Cazbah, local blues favourite Nick Rheinberger, young gypsy musicians Doux Manouche, indie folk artist Leo, and dancers extraordinaire Soul Flamenco. There will also be a special performance by Jazz & Blues Festival favourite Jan Preston, as she plays a live accompaniment to the silent film, The Kid Stakes.
The headline act on Saturday night on the centre stage will be American raised, Australian by choice comedian Tommy Dean who will be known by many readers as a regular on ABC Radio’s Thank God It’s Friday.
Keeping everyone in line in her indomitable way will be Kiama’s favourite, Kikki Bittovabitsch, fresh from her performances at the Adelaide Fringe and The Gumball Festival.
As if they haven’t enough to do, Dave and Tamara are also presenting the cult adults-only Kiama Kabaret in Gerringong and Kiama on the days leading up to the Festival.
“Ray White Kiama is proud to be a founding sponsor of the KISS Arts Festival,” says principal Michele Lay. “We urge the community to embrace and enjoy this wonderful event.”
Details: Sat 30 April (2-10pm) and Sunday 1 May (10-5pm), Kiama Harbour.