A CHANCE meeting and fast friendship between creatives Monique Humphreys and Kodi Twiner led to the launch of Newcastle's new multidisciplinary arts event, Prickly Pear.
Humphreys and Twiner met just three weeks ago during the Music Biz Is industry workshop on touring at Novotone Studios and instantly found an alignment in their ideas to reactivate Newcastle's arts scene.
"We caught up the next day and bounced off each other and had the same kind of energy and found this grant and said, 'let's do this, if we don't do it now it's not gonna happen'," Humphreys said.
"So we thought let's give it a crack, and we did and it's come to form and it's happening. It's been a very fast turnaround."
Within days of meeting Humphreys and Twiner submitted an application to the City of Newcastle for an arts grant, which was approved.
Prickly Pear will be held over two consecutive nights beginning on Thursday at The Base in Newcastle West, the site of the former Unorthodox Church Of Groove.
Night one will feature an open-door rehearsal before the full show on Friday from 7pm to 9pm.
The program features a mix of artistic disciplines in one room; everything from live ceramic and visual art to music, dance and poetry. The line-up includes Caitlin O'Reilly, Renyen, Mia Sifflet, Brigitta Dance Projects, Jacinta Rose, Janette Hoppe, Happy to be Here Ceramics, plus Humphreys and Twiner.
Humphreys, is a dancer and musician, and was based in the UK for three years before COVID forced her home to Newcastle in December.
Rather than wait for the arts industry to re-emerge from COVID lockdowns, Humphreys said she and Twiner chose to make their own creative outlet.
"Everybody knows it's been tough for artists and we want to build our own opportunities and our own jobs and have that power now," Humphreys said. "It's been really empowering, the COVID experience, of how hard it is to carry on when you're in a freelance world."
The pandemic also forced the Queensland-bred Twiner to quit her job as a musician and teacher in Bali. A week-long visit to Newcastle inspired her to make the move south.
"I was looking for where the buzz is happening in Australia, now that I've had to move back to Australia from overseas, where I could be involved with artists and where it feels like there's generous artistic spirit," Twiner said. "Newcastle is definitely ticking that box."
But Twiner said Prickly Pear almost never happened because she was close to skipping the Music Biz Is workshop because she was feeling "despondent" and was contemplating giving up on creative pursuits.
"I talked myself into going and literally it was a huge turning point for me in Newcastle," she said.
"It was like actually I do have something to contribute, I have a voice in this discussion that needs to be heard and be interacting with other people.
"It's been so hard to get that perspective because the industry has been forced to be flatlined for 12 months."
Prickly Pear tickets are available at trybooking.com.