Welcome to the North Australian Festival of Arts (NAFA). A hybrid curated and Fringe arts and cultural festival and Australian Event Award winner! NAFA has become a signature event held in Townsville, with hundreds of different performances, experiences, and venues for the community to enjoy throughout a month-long celebration of the arts.
In the spirit of Fringe Festivals across the globe – NAFA has an inclusive, organic and open access side that features all forms of art and performance. ‘Open access’ means that unlike most arts festivals, no one is in charge of deciding which shows get to take part. There are no curators, no program directors, no themes or content criteria that artists have to fulfil when registering their show. The festival is formed around the mantra: anyone with a story to tell and a venue to host it. No matter who you are, where you come from or what artform you represent, everyone is welcome at NAFA. As the festival grows the ‘open’ access definition also extends to the audiences to ensure the removal of any barriers that prevent people from attending, be that physical, societal, financial, or otherwise. After successfully debuting in 2019, the festivals held in 2020 and 2021 had to adapt and evolve with the everchanging COVID 19 Pandemic. Although many challenges have been faced, the festival has continued to bring the North Australian community alive throughout the difficult times faced by the arts and culture community.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Our Story begins with the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Townsville was named one of the four Event Cities alongside the Gold Coast, Brisbane, and Cairns. During the Commonwealth Games, the Queensland Government provided funding for each event city to create and run an arts and cultural festival – and thus Festival 2018 was born. Each city’s Festival 2018 ran for 12 days to coincide with the Commonwealth Games events. The aim of the festival was to create additional cultural experiences and opportunities for the local communities and to the people visiting the region to attend the supporting events. Townsville’s Festival 2018 was a roaring success with more than 100, 000 people attending events and performances across the 12 days. Being situated across 3 locations including Jezzine Barracks, Queens Gardens and Strand Park, the Townsville community was treated to staged performances, concerts, and visual art displays by national and international artists. The overwhelming response for Festival 2018 from the community really highlighted the need for an annual arts and cultural festival for the northern region. In 2018, Mayor Jenny Hill and the Townsville City Council committed to the creation and continuation of a Townsville festival. From here the two festivals, the North Australian Festival of Arts (NAFA) and the Northern Fringe Festival were founded. These festivals showcase the endless talents and creativeness of the North Australian region.
NAFA 2019 was an amazing event and was entered into the prestigious Australian Event Awards. The Australian Event Awards is the national awards program for the events industry. It is the only opportunity for event professionals to compete directly across the nation, and across all facets of the industry, to establish which are Australia’s best events and event-related goods, services and innovations.
The Festival was submitted into three categories, and were nominated as finalists in four categories including event of the year:
The Team were so excited when it was then announced we were finalists in all three categories and were over the moon that in the first year of the event we were able to win Best Community Event!
“NAFA is a highlight event for not only Townsville, but the entirety of North Australia, and it is a spectacular accomplishment to have the inaugural festival recognised with this award,” Cr Greaney said.
“NAFA was in outstanding company last night and winning the award and being a finalist in two other categories is a testament to the staff and volunteers that worked so hard to bring this experience to the city.”
Cr Greaney said NAFA had been created to cement Townsville’s place as the arts and culture capital of North Australia, and it succeeded.