NOVUM Festival 8-11 August 2024

Newcastle’s newest multi-arts festival experience comes back bigger and better for 2024
Mag North
March 27, 2024

Based at Newcastle Civic Centre and Great North Museum NOVUM 2024 promises to be something very special.

Local people as living art works, a celebration of secret and forgotten places in the city, dance and circus performances, street theatre, breakdance and a programme of live music and family friendly fun – NOVUM festival is set to become a major feature of Newcastle’s summer cultural calendar.

The multi artform event will showcase local, national, and international talent, transforming the Grade II* listed Civic Centre and surrounding gardens into a cultural playground.

NOVUM has been created through a partnership between Newcastle City Council, North of Tyne Combined Authority, UK Government, Levelling Up, Newcastle University, Northumbira University, Arts Council England, The Glasshouse International Centre for Music, Generator, Nexus, Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums and The Great North Museum: Hancock.

The festival site is expanding with events also taking place at the Great North Museum, creating even more opportunities for all ages to get involved. Audiences can come along and get stuck in to creating, exploring and engaging with art, music, dance as performances and installations come to life across the four-day festival.

A nightime viewpoint of Newcasle from 'Secret Cities'
Secret City Newcastle

Highlights of the programme include:

‘Shrink’ by Belgian installation and performance art specialist Lawrence Malstaf where people from local communities will become living portraits in a striking exhibition that will see them vacuum-packed and vertically suspended.

• ‘Secret City Newcastle’ – an opportunity to explore hidden and forgotten spaces in the city with artist and photographer Andrew Brooks, celebrating the heritage of Newcastle with images and stories captured during the Festival and displayed throughout the weekend in St Thomas Gardens and the Great North Museum.

• A flying piano and ensemble of circus artists from Bristol based Cirque Bijou will deliver an aerial show featuring live music and singing.

• Motionhouse, the world class dance-circus production company, bring their gravity-defying dance-circus production ‘WILD’ to the Festival, a piece where the performers use powerful physicality to move animal-like through a forest of tall poles.

• In the year that breaking (breakdance) becomes an Olympic sport, local breaker Rob Anderson and showcase a breaking ‘Jam’ where B-boys and B-girls will battle it out in ‘Triple Threat’ - an original Breaking competition.

• The magical non-verbal puppetry and storytelling of The League of Curiosity.

The music programme, curated in partnership with promoters f54 and 456live, Generator and The Glasshouse International Centre for Music, promises a diverse and eclectic line up. Music highlights include:

• anthemic spiritualists Flamingods (‘Majesty’ 2016, ‘Levitation’ 2019)

• North Shields’ own Hector Gannet, masters of a kind of new, modernist folkmusic

• Kima Otung, the exciting Welsh-Nigerian Pop/R&B artist

• Witty, soulful solo artist from Newcastle, Ruth Lyon

Solo Musican fom Newcastle, Ruth Lyon - on the beach in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear
Musician Ruth Lyon

Free, family friendly activities, called Stay and Play, will take place over the weekend at St Thomas Gardens and the Civic Centre courtyard including ‘Shy Bairns Get Nowt’, a newly created show from Newcastle Youth Circus that tells the story of what growing up in Newcastle means to young people today – as told through circus.

Andy Brydon, Creative & Company Director of Curated Place, organisers of NOVUM, said: “We’re so excited to bring NOVUM back to the Civic Centre in summer 2024 with an expanded team, site and programme. 2024 will see ambitious partnerships and outstanding artists from across Newcastle and around the world come together, creating a distinctive festival that will help us all to explore, learn and play through creativity. Drawing on support from the expertise of the Great Museum of the North, the passionate custodians of the Civic Centre, exciting cutting-edge music with Generator and The Glasshouse as well as Newcastle City Council’s dedicated community team, NOVUM will create a meeting point for everyone inNewcastle, a celebration of the people, places, mythology and spirit of the city.”

Jim Mawdsley (Events and Culture Newcastle City Council) said: “It’s fantastic for the City that we can produce the first full version of NOVUM – Newcastle Summer Festival and as you can see from the programme it will be an amazing event. CoCreation of work shown, installed and performed at NOVUM with our communities is one of the leading aims of the festival. Last year we saw over 800 people involved in preparing for the pilot and this event will again see hundreds of residents participate in a festival of high cultural value.

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“We have formed strong partnerships with community groups, cultural organisations and those that promote the city in NGI and NE1. By doing this we are confident thatwe will produce a festival that is dynamic and exciting while a sense of ownership isfelt across the city.

“Over the years it is our intention to build this event into one that helps Newcastle achieve its status as one of the great cultural cities, and that it helps increase visitor to the city to enjoy our rich culture and heritage while increasing a sense of pride in our residents.”

Early bird tickets are available now for some events HERE

Further events will be announced in April.