KISS for like-minded

AS well as being wholly entertaining, the creators of Kiama's KISS Arts Festival, Dave Evans and Tamara Campbell, hope the event will draw like-minded souls out of the woodwork.

Now in its third year, the festival combines elements of circus, clowning, vaudeville and comedy.

It runs from January 6-15 including the Ray White Street Theatre on January 10, 11 and 12, circus workshops on January 6-10 and 13-15 in Hindmarsh Park, two-hour Open Air Cabaret shows on January 10, 11 and 12 at The Sebel Harbourside Kiama or Jamberoo Pub and a Pop-up Arts Centre on January 10, 11 and 12.

This year's acts come to town from as close as Bulli and Byron Bay to as far away as Israel and the UK; they are Cirque no Problem, Heidi Hillier, Oskar and Strudel, Shep Huntley, the Boxman and special guests Kiki and Pascal (Evans and Campbell).

The Pop-Up Arts Centre will be held on the stage and in the Spiegelesque La Petite Grande tent in Hindmarsh Park on Saturday, January 11.

Evans and Campbell said that element would give people a taste of what a permanent arts centre might mean for the area.

Campbell sits on Kiama Council's cultural board, which is looking at potential sites for any such centre.

"We thought it would be nice to experiment with what it could be and how it could be used," she said.

"It's also about creating things that people can try and do and interact, people can come together and be with people who like the same things. It's really about limiting that isolation."

Evans agreed, saying he hoped the arts centre would be a hub for the artistic community and would-be artists.

"That's my biggest thing - we are a community full of artists of all different genres, but nobody knows where they are," he said.

"We have lived here nearly 10 years now and we are only really just discovering these people now.

"The real thing for me would be to have a place where people can come and share what they do with other people. That is the best way as an artist, for me anyway, that you come up with either new material or you refine what you do.

"And it's also about mentorship and inspiration, without blowing our own trumpets - there are not many artists in Australia that manage to sustain themselves only through their art and we do. Admittedly we have to leave the country for three, four months of the year to really do that."

Campbell stressed the centre would not only be for professional creative types.

"It's not just about people who are already artists, but people in the community who have an interest in art," she said. "And when we say artist, we mean in a very general sense performing, dancing, painting, writing - anyone who is involved in a creative pursuit."

The day-long series of sessions includes: Yogarama, iPhone photography, graffiti pastels, spoken word, comedy ukulele, record String Ball with Kelli Ryan of the Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Art and Culture Studio, toddler music and circus, felt-making, and Kiama's biggest jam and wine appreciation.

"All of these workshops are designed that people will achieve something in the hour," Campbell said.

"They will take home a piece of artwork, or leave knowing how to do something."

All of the workshops are donation and material cost only.

Campbell said local knowledge of the festival was slowly building.

"A lot of it is word of mouth and that takes time," she said. "We need to get the word out that there is more to do around town."

For more information on acts, dates, locations and times, go to kissartsfestival.com.au.

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