No Booze ’til Deadline: TINA Wrap-Up

08/10/2009 at 11:51 am 8 comments

In post festival haze of unpacking I find a scrawled, melted to-do list for all the promises I make to myself during moments of inspiration. It’s been soaked by rainwater in the final cathartic dump of Monday evening, blurred into oblivion. Sort of how I feel too, after a five-day junket of music, art, theatre, dancing, discussion, poetry, politics and people. Oh yes – the people you meet make timely reminders of the breadth and strength of Australian counterculture; the yearning for a cultural transformation it sometimes feels impossible to share.

But TINA- haughty mistress of the Bacchanalian Australian sector – she understands our pain and loves us for it. Not even returning home to a choice between Celebrity Masterchef and the irritating-at-best Daryl Somers on commercial television can dampen the core warmth of spending a rainy weekend with our brightest irreverent minds. Australia: This Is Your Local Content. It’s almost vital for a chance to recharge on debate with teeth, satire with bite: so when we get a re-hashed Al Jolson (seriously –Al fkn Jolson?) routine on Channel 9 we don’t just all join hands and collectively slit our wrists in dismay at the sheer pathos which entertainment in this country has become.

Because we know a secret that the rest of the country does not. And we’re happy to share with those who are willing to listen. After ten years this festival can no longer be considered a flash-in-the-PAN-building; TINA is a tribe. TINA is a movement. And it’s getting bigger – the veterans keep coming back for more and the new blood are turning up in ever-increasing hordes as Newcastle annually provides a place to be celebrated for difference instead of given a token nod or pat on the back. In just five days we’re able to carry inspiration for the other 360 – in the brilliant artists and writers we meet, their dedication, their risk and their wisdom – and all the fresh ideas that come up for us while we hear them speak.

Which brings me back to my forlorn and sodden to-do list, smudged like my mind after days of soaking in rain and ginger beer, is it enough to carry just the inspiration without the concrete ideas to act upon? Or should I attempt to recollect my scattered thoughts once more by remembering such conversations with the creatively ingenuous: (if this were a TV show, you would do well at this point to imagine a blurry wavy line growing across your screen)…

On the music front as usual the diversity was astounding: in the festival club I might find myself chatting to a Brazilian electro-artist, jazz diva or local-techno-bogan-satirist Toecutter the morning after his resplendent tirade at the Saturday night Cambridge showcase crowd. Luckily I took video of the event as it’s a blur – I seem to recall the indefatigable Toe screaming “Shut The Fuck Up You Fucking Idiots” whilst wearing something akin to an Olympic female gymnast’s outfit (if they came in man-size). Later, Toe referred me to catch a Japanese artist performing modern Butoh on the roof of a carpark serving for the Zine-Fair (again, video forthcoming).

My anti-panelist proclivities were exposed as hypocrisy the other week when I was charmed to be invited on the Give Me Cleo Over Kerouac discussion on popular culture – audio for which I may hope to gain from our esteemed facilitator Angela Meyer. As there were eight of us channeling our inner Kyle & Jackie O listener it was a pretty lively chat which I’d like to revisit another day – as a few more thoughts have passed through my mind since then on the subject of the ‘mainstream’. Besides the fact I got distracted after Marieke Hardy announced she would refuse to sleep with someone who voted for the Liberal Party. While I absolutely support her stance on this matter I could not help but begin secret kinky thoughts about a certain former Minister for Communications and much of the tail end of the panel has been forgotten. So wrong, and yet so very wrong.

Panels have a somewhat stricken reputation at these affairs and I’m pleased to report that there was very little self-aggrandisement to be found, many of the ones I attended were open discussions with the audiences involved and a good deal of self-examination on arts industry matters. A highlight was a good old-fashioned siege of some panelists who made the dubious claim that everyone in the world of Melbourne Literary Journals actually likes each other. I for one don’t believe it for a second – the claim was made after a very funny (and revealing) bitch session about a Sydney based journal which shall remain unnamed. Besides: writers are notoriously jealous, as publishers are nepotistic – at least the good ones are, anyway. The crowd of course took the other route – drawing & quartering the poor folk at the helm of the event for being ‘cliquey’. Perish the thought!

Having always regarded literary journals with the kind of suspicion I might normally reserve for those who buy Shannon Noll albums, I have now resolved to either A) submit something to one & test the theory; or B) start up my own Sydney based journal to cultivate some literary controversy with those Melbourne upstarts, apparently finding time to debate ‘what works’ in this world which caters for less than 0.1% of the population. Checking my blurred to-do list again reveals a few potential titles for such a tome: Cheerios; Beer Monthly; Tim-Tam-Cigarette-Papers… although it might possibly be the shopping list I never fulfilled. [Mental note: Spend more money on groceries next year upon arrival in Newcastle.]

Looking back at the tenth TINA I feel will mark a coming of age with the level of organisation. It’s always been a marginally chaotic affair, but the marked increase in attendance this year meant a logistical juggling act the management should be proud to have kept up. Yeah there were some venue issues and occasional breakdown in communication. It happens. But the willingness to address these things openly was apparent on the final day – walking into the festival lounge to find a fairly intense discussion happening (not for the first time that day) on what, where, how and why to improve upon the growing pains of an increasingly established institution. And there’s a real question: does TINA want to become a part of the ‘establishment’ of arts festivals? Can it? Should it? Even if it wanted to?

And with that conundrum I must leave – as the final entry on my list of TINA inspirations is just legible: Win Patrick White Award… either that or ‘bin Hat-trick shite cards’ – which may have resulted from a poorly scheduled drunken poker match late on Sunday night. But I digress – if it’s the former, the deadline is in just 39 days. Better get cracking. Got my fill for inspiration, risk-taking & irreverence. No more booze ’til the play’s the thing.

Any other TINA acolytes out there? How is the festival inspiring you to carry the creative flames? Do share!

Entry filed under: Festivals. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

REFERENCES TO SALVADOR DALI MAKE ME HOT This Social Conscience Takes A Bite Out Of Itself

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joseph Ciolino  |  08/10/2009 at 1:32 pm

    Fuck you.

    I love Al Jolson.

    More talent in one finger than your mother had in her whole body, pal.

    • 2. anvildrops  |  08/10/2009 at 1:43 pm

      chillax, I didn’t say Al Jolson’s not talented – just ripping off his routines is somewhat dated for 2009 tv audiences.

      By the way, out of curiosity, what finger did he use?

  • 3. |  |  08/10/2009 at 4:58 pm

    […] The 5th Wall’s To-Do list disolves in the Newcastle rain, TiNA Wrap Up […]

  • […] 5th Wall’s most excellent wrap-up of This is Not Art and the National Young Writers Festival. And here are some more of […]

  • 5. Jiri Grohmann  |  10/10/2009 at 7:41 am


  • 6. estelle  |  11/10/2009 at 3:50 pm

    This year was my first TINA, and I must say, as one of the (it felt like) very few attendees who wasn’t also participating in a panel/spruiking a recent creative endeavour/contributing in any form to the debates, etc., I’m hoping to by next year have done something that makes me feel like a little less of a fraud at a National Young Writers’ Festival. So it’s the good old shame inspiration.

    I’m only half kidding. It was lots of fun, for sure.

    • 7. anvildrops  |  12/10/2009 at 12:10 pm

      I highly recommend getting involved, even if on the smallest level – you will receive the key to unlock many doors

  • […] 5th Wall‘s most excellent wrap-up of This is Not Art and the National Young Writers Festival. And here are some more of […]


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