21 April 2023

Shoalhaven's first Night is Young Festival to shine a light on up-and-coming musicians

| Katrina Condie
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Aodhan will headline the Youth Week music festival. Photo: Aodhan Music.

A new festival will shine a light on young musicians as part of the Shoalhaven’s Youth Week activities.

Indigenous songwriter Aodhan will headline the first Night is Young Festival which will also showcase local solo artists, bands and dancers at the Dunn Lewis Centre in Ulladulla on 29 April.

Based in the Illawarra and winner of the Unearthed High Indigenous initiative, Aodhan recently played at the Lazy Mountain Festival in Berry and Spin Fest in Wollongong.

Aodhan will be supported by South Coast acoustic duo Monday Lane and South Coast singer-songwriter Toruadh as well as Ulladulla High School musicians including Tom Malligan, Adam Clear and Theo Bradley.

The festival will kick off at midday and run until 8 pm, with food stalls and markets selling handmade jewellery, preloved clothing, photography, art and candles.

One of the organisers, UHS music and entertainment teacher Matt Skinner said it was fantastic to have the Youth Week music festival in Ulladulla this year.

He said the Dunn Lewis Centre was a great venue, with two stages to showcase young talent.

“Last year we had a Battle of the Bands and this festival has grown from that,” Matt said.

“The Dunn Lewis Centre is a massive stage and a massive space, so the kids are nervous, but it will be an amazing experience for them.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our local kids to play on a big stage in front of what we’re hoping is going to be a big crowd.

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“It will be a really professional production with a fantastic lights package and audio that the kids are doing as well.

“All the kids involved will be super proud when they’re done and this kind of experience will make them better performers and more confident on stage.”

Young musicians from Nowra and Batemans Bay will also be performing and local dance groups and soloists will light up the stage inside the venue.

Matt said it was important to offer free entry to ensure all young people could go along and enjoy the festival, which has been coordinated with input from youth groups working alongside Shoalhaven City Council’s Community Capacity Builder Jess Richardson, headspace and other supporters.

“It’s really youth focused and inspired, with kids performing, making and selling stuff,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great day and we hope the local youth will support it, because we don’t want to lose it.”

Following on from the recent Blessing of the Fleet Festival in Ulladulla, he said the event was another opportunity for the community to come together after the devastating bushfires and COVID-19 lockdowns.

“We’re in a place where we’ve had catastrophe after catastrophe, and we’re all feeling a bit beat down, so things like this bring back a taste of normalcy to our lives,” Matt said.

“We can do fun things again, and go back to normal where kids can just be kids and not worry about COVID or fires.

“I felt euphoric after the Blessing of the Fleet event, and this will be along those lines where it’s a community event where we can all get together, have a good time and enjoy each other’s company while supporting our kids.”

Skateboarding, photography and art will also be on the agenda during the Shoalhaven Youth Week celebrations from 20 to 30 April.

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“Youth Week is an opportunity for young people across Shoalhaven to share ideas, attend live events, celebrate their contribution to the community, and to have fun,” Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said.

“Council is proud to support Youth Week events hosted by local organisations that acknowledge and celebrate the city’s young people.”

A skate event was held on 21 April at Sanctuary Point, while First Nations photographer Talesha Farrell is holding a free photography workshop at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in Nowra for anyone aged 15 to 25, on 22 April.

The workshop encourages participants to explore new possibilities with photography and includes a tour of the exhibition Jerrinja Balaang. The exhibition includes photographs from a group of talented Indigenous female artists.

You can find out more information on what’s happening during Youth Week on the Shoalhaven Council Website.

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