Last Thursday evening, a small yet excited crowd gathered at The Edwards on Parry Street. Usual faces caught up with each other, new faces introduced themselves and somewhere in the mix, nervous finalists mingled with everyone. It was the night of Awesome Newcastle February, and after an inspirational meeting in January, everyone was ready to see what was in store for our $1,000 cash grant this month.
We began under the fading summer sunlight by introducing our special guest board members. This month, our guests included Kelsey Barrett from Kumalie Communications, Shane Burrell from Final Post, Peter Dodds from Colliers International and former rockstar turned Edwards-founder Chris Joannou. Then it was time to hear from our finalists.
Our first finalist was Kian West. Starting a printed publication this century requires guts and savviness, and that’s exactly what West exhibited as he told us of Newcastle Mirage, a local free zine about culture and the arts in Newcastle. He said it takes him about 20 hours each week to create, and on top of that, West ambitiously launched his Newcastle Mirage podcast in October last year. He said he would put the $1,000 grant money towards the podcast so Newcastle Mirage can continue to reach the local community and beyond.
Local muso Josh Bailey was up next. Bailey talked to us about a recent event he organised, known as Beach Street Block Party. Bailey said Beach Street Block Party is ‘made by the artist, for the artist’ – that is, a day-long event of live music, live art and good times. His first Beach Street Block Party attracted over 700 attendees and reached maximum capacity at just 5pm. Bailey said he would use the money to purchase better recording equipment so he can share the next Beach Street Block Party, held March 12, online.
Sunny twosome Joel Pilgrim and Aimee Blacker were up next to talk about OneWave. Pilgrim’s personal brush with a family member’s suicide attempt meant his young world came crashing down, and as he picked up the pieces in the aftermath, Pilgrim realised just how important an open discussion of mental health is. Being an active surfer himself, Pilgrim started OneWave with the belief that ‘One wave is all it takes’ – an hour of physical exercise in the ocean under the guidance of a supportive and inspirational instructor can lift even the heaviest of hearts and minds. Pilgrim said he would use the money to train more surfing instructor volunteers and continue to help those struggling with mental health get moving again.
It was a tough and heated discussion amongst our board members as we shared thoughts about each finalist in our deliberations. Each finalist showed so much determination and everyone agreed that each one deserved the grant. But there’s only one bag of cash, and as the votes were cast and tallied up, it became clear – OneWave had taken out February’s Awesome Newcastle grant. Pilgrim and Blacker were stoked to receive the $1,000, and promised to keep us in the loop about OneWave.
The awesome thing about Awesome Newcastle is that entries never expire. We’re sure we’ll see our other inspired finalists again for another round of Awesome Newcastle in the future. If you’d like to apply for a grant, please head to awesomefoundation.org.
Bring the Awesome!