This year marks Nexus’ 40th birthday of nurturing local, diverse talent. Their upcoming Fringe program is no exception.
Cheers to 40 years of Nexus Arts
From February 16, Nexus Arts will become a west end Fringe destination, amplifying underrepresented talent.
“All year round, we present, support and nurture artists who are culturally diverse and First Nations and the Fringe is really super because it’s like an extension of that,” says Nexus Development Manager Rebecca Meston.
With 16 shows at their Nexus venue within the Lion Arts Centre across the five weeks of Fringe, their program spans cabaret, comedy, folk and traditional music from across the globe.
Rebecca says Nexus offers artists a live venue to rehearse, hone their craft and support them to think about their practice sustainably.
“We’re very proud to have a real open-door policy for our artists to come in, whether they want to talk about their actual art or want to write a grant application, we’ll sit down and help them,” she says.
“Adelaide has such an incredible history of supporting and presenting the most extraordinary unique artists and they need a space to do that.
“There’s been some shocking closures over the years… we’ve held on and we have this amazing space for these artists.
“This next generation of young artists coming through, they need space, I don’t want to lose these artists to interstate because they can’t find a venue because they all have such important stories to tell and work to share with audiences who are hungry for it as well.”
A highlight of this year’s Nexus Fringe program is Leslie & Anita: Fallen Stars of Hong Kong, a bilingual retro cabaret by Nicky Tsz Tung Li – a graduate of Nexus’ Interplay program.
Interplay is a year-long program for performance-ready artists from culturally diverse and First Nations backgrounds. It includes mentorship with industry professionals and one-on-one career development.
Nicky was a part of the 2023 Interplay program, and of her team of four behind Leslie & Anita, three of them are Interplay graduates.
“Last year’s cohort is quite interesting because we were all emerging, not that our skills were emerging, but more so where we are at in our careers, and I just want to see where everyone goes,” Nicky says.
Nicky says though she only started officially working with Nexus through Interplay, she feels like she’s been working with the organisation for five years.
“In terms of how they work with artists, they are very good at maintaining the relationship,” she says.
“In terms of organisations that work with culturally diverse artists, there are many, but a lot of them are slightly tokenistic… like there’s an expectation that you create culturally diverse work, but Nexus doesn’t do that.
Leslie & Anita: Fallen Stars of Hong Kong
Friday, February 16, 8pm and Friday, February 23, 6pm
“Within our Interplay cohort, yes, it is a culturally diverse group…it is diverse in our ethnicity, but it’s also diverse in our musical practice and they don’t force us to think about identity, that’s what’s great about Nexus.”
Nicky produced, wrote and will perform in Leslie & Anita: Fallen Stars of Hong Kong, which tells the stories of Hong Kong artists Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, intertwining 80s Cantopop songs with storytelling in English.
While we give plenty of airtime to the big tops at Gluttony and the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Fringe takes over all of Adelaide this time of year, and Nexus’ program hopes to send punters a short tram ride down to the west end.
“Gluttony and the Garden… I feel like it’s for commercial art goers, they’re looking for entertainment, they’re not looking for high art,” Nicky says.
“People that go to Nexus or My Lover Cindi’s or Goodwood… they have a niche community that they’re looking for.”
Nicky says while she creates works for audiences within her community, creating any multicultural or political work comes with a struggle of feeling protective over how it exists outside of that community.
“If I only show work to people who already resonate with it, I’m not changing any minds. The only way that the work actually makes a difference is if I expose that work to people who aren’t on my side,” she says.
Rebecca agrees Fringe is a good time of year to expose Adelaide communities and visitors to the important works by artists at Nexus.
“We present work like this throughout the year, what I think Fringe offers us is an opportunity to reach more audiences who would love to see if only they knew about it,” Rebecca says.
“It’s a really scary time in the art sector right now. Both for organisations, but particularly for artists so to still be around at 40 years is a real testament to what we stand by and what we do.”
Nexus Arts has a wide-ranging Fringe program on offer, including Brown Women Comedy, Anime ‘n’ Chill piano concert, Guitar Music of South America and Spain and more. See the full program on their website.