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As the days get longer and the climes warm up, get your arts and culture fix with 25 wallet-friendly events for less than $25.
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE 50TH BIRTHDAY
Our most famous building marks half a century with free arts, culture and history events including What Is the City but the People?, a choreographed catwalk of citizens on the forecourt (Oct 1, 4pm), Quandamooka artist Megan Cope’s monumental oyster shell installation, Whispers (until Oct 31), Australian audio-visual artist Robin Fox’s evening laser show, Icon, on the sails (Oct 20-22, 8pm) and Jan and Lin Utzon discussing their father Jorn Utzon’s architectural legacy (Oct 17, 6.30pm, Joan Sutherland Theatre).
Free, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point.
MUSEUMS DISCOVERY CENTRE
See insect collections, printing presses, robots, medical equipment, video consoles, musical instruments, First Nations art and vintage transport, including the original Goggomobil, among the stored collections of the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, the Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums.
Free, open weekends, 10am-4pm, 172 Showground Road, Castle Hill.
Georgiana Houghton’s The eye of God (1862) watercolour and gouache on paper.Credit: Art Gallery of NSW
ART GALLERY OF NSW
View Invisible Friends, a free upcoming exhibition of rarely seen “spirit drawings” created in the 1860s and ’70s by English artist and medium Georgiana Houghton. Before then, catch a free screening of Memories of Murder, directed by Bong Joon-ho, creator of Academy Award-winning film Parasite, this Wednesday (bookings required).
Invisible Friends, Nov 4-March 10, Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, Sydney.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Meet the next generation of painters, sculptors and installation and digital artists at Primavera 2023, the MCA’s annual exhibition of Australian artists aged 35 years and under. Artists include Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri, Wiradjuri and Italian artist Moorina Bonini whose detailed work dapalama (between), features text and markings throughout the gallery.
Free, 140 George St, The Rocks, Weds-Mon 10am-5pm.
Between ornate ceilings, parquet floors and hand-carved wooden shelving, the State Library of NSW’s Shakespeare Room, first opened in 1943, comes complete with the first edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays – 36 comedies, histories and tragedies – published in 1623. For All Time: Shakespeare In Print, an exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of this treasured folio, allows a scouring of the Bard’s work while quietly declaring, “Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood!” at passers-by.
Free, open daily, State Library of NSW, 1 Shakespeare Place, Sydney CBD.
A four-day Parra-palooza of music, food and art in Parramatta laneways and car parks. Feast from 40 food trucks, enter an augmented reality exhibition, peruse a vintage record fair, bring Spot to the pooch-friendly cafe, watch silent cinema on the river foreshore and cut some rug with Afrobeats, K-pop, Bollywood and hip-hop music acts, including Indigenous rapper Kootsie Don.
Free entry, October 11-14, Parramatta CBD.
NATIONAL ART SCHOOL
Tour Radiance: the art of Elisabeth Cummings, an exhibition spanning three decades of the eminent Australian artist’s career. Join Cummings for a panel discussion (Oct 11, 6.30pm, $25) covering her process, travels and work returning to the art school she attended 70 years ago.
Free entry to National Art School, 156 Forbes Street, Darlinghurst, Monday to Saturday, 11am-5pm (closed Labour Day).
Zoe Coombs Marr plays the Opera House in the Just For Laughs Festival.
Get cackling for $20 with a Just For Laughs Festival three-show pack at three-night gala Just For Laughs Australia Live. Hosted by Melanie Bracewell, the shows include Geraldine Hickey, Zoe Coombs Marr, He Huang, Ivan Aristeguieta, Guy Montgomery, Gillian Cosgriff, winner of Best Show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and more.
$20 three-show packs, November 16-18, 7.15pm & 9.30pm, Sydney Opera House.
An 18-year bastion of the Kings Cross nightclub scene before closing in 2018, World Bar returns for The World Bar: One More Time, a one-night, four-level reunion party with themed rooms – expect a Wham-dedicated floor – plus 20 DJs, live acts and the famous cocktails in teapots.
From $25, Kings Cross Hotel, 244-248 William Street, Potts Point, November 18.
Bung the kids in the car, or squash in with five mates, for mega-savings at Blacktown’s Skyline drive-in. Tickets are $35 for up to six people per car, a bargain at $5.83 a head! Upcoming flicks include teenage coming-of-age film with gills Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, and the deeply terrifying, grown-ups horror film Saw X.
$35 per car, Skyline Drive-in, Cricketers Arms Road, Blacktown, daily.
BELVOIR ST THEATRE
Belvoir’s 25A program, which supports independent and emerging work, runs from its tiny but magnificent Downstairs Theatre with tickets at $25. Catch the current season of Jane Montgomery Griffiths’ reframed Greek myth, An Ox Stand on my Tongue, followed by Beyond the Break and Darwin’s Reptilia.
$25, Belvoir Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street Theatre, season runs until November 26.
Gleebooks in Glebe, a book-loving institution for 48 years, is undergoing renovations but its popular and bargain-priced author events roll on at temporary venues nearby. Hear Madeleine Gray discuss her witty novel Green Dot, AI expert and author Professor Toby Walsh talk about his new book Faking It and Herald columnist and ABC broadcaster Richard Glover on Best Wishes, a plea to humanity to do better.
Free to $15, various dates from October 4, gleebooks.com.au
Seventeen years of album releases are captured on film in Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.Credit:
If you didn’t snare tickets to the US singer’s 2024 Australian tour, hold your head high, slip on a one-legged bejewelled jumpsuit and watch the Eras concert film, a 165-minute theatrical version of Tay Tay’s epic yet intimate journey through 17 years of album releases.
$25, October 13-15, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, 380 Military Rd, Cremorne.
Peruse Texta, an exhibition of work created with the faithful colour pen before meeting the show’s nine artists, including Quinn Chen, Charmaine Pike and Yuck, at a talk on October 7. Contribute your Texta-based artistry at the gallery’s community drawing table.
Free, Draw Space, 31A Enmore Road, Newtown, October 5-November 5.
Philanthropist Judith Nielsen’s award-winning, $32 million performing arts venue Phoenix Central Park, worth visiting for its architectural beauty alone, has a ticket ballot system offering free cutting-edge music performances all year round. Enter to see coder-turned-music auteur Abyss X (Nov 14), songman and ceremony leader from Numbulwar, Arnhem Land, Ngulmiya Nundhirribala (Nov 30) and avant-garde musician and multimedia artist Evita Manji (Dec 12), among many others. Free via ticket ballot, Phoenix Central Park, 37-49 O’Connor St, Chippendale, from October 5.
The free 2024 Biennale marks the opening of the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station’s conversion into an arts, culture and community venue in 2024. Shuttered in 1984, and used as a set for The Matrix and The Great Gatsby, the former coal-fired station’s walls and rooms will feature sculpture, painting, installations, digital art and a music program under the Biennale’s Ten Thousand Suns theme.
Free, March 9-June 10, White Bay Power Station, 28 Robert Street, Rozelle.
Theatre tickets for $25 or less are rare unless it’s the just-finished Sydney Fringe Festival or Griffin Theatre (see below). Darlinghurst Theatre’s “pay what you can” program has four tickets reserved for each performance. Contact the theatre to apply.
Angeline Penrith and Stephanie Somerville in Blaque Showgirls, at the Griffin Theatre.Credit: Brett Boardman
GRIFFIN THEATRE COMPANY
Grab first-in-first-served $20 tickets to Nakkiah Lui’s acclaimed Blaque Showgirls, a cutting critique of racism in Australia within a riotous spoof of cult ’90s classic film Showgirls.
Tickets are available on Mondays for Monday shows only. Contact the theatre from noon. SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod St, Darlinghurst, until Oct 21.
Artists Juan-Pablo Pinto and Cristian Rojas, along with master blacksmith Matt Mewburn begin work on Shellter which will feature in the upcoming Sculptures by the Sea.Credit: Brook Mitchell
SCULPTURE BY THE SEA
Celebrating 25 years, the world’s largest free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition features work by Australian and international artists in a two-kilometre stretch along the coast. Almost 500,000 spectators attended the event each year before COVID. Parking is a bunfight so catch a bus.
Free, October 20-November 6, Bondi to Tamarama Coastal Walk.
CARS AND CULTURE NSW
Tour a fleet of V8s, panel vans, classic sports cars, hotted-up sedans, super cars, glamour vehicles and whatever else NSW car-lovers decide to park at this annual rev-head meet. Includes go-karts, food stalls and the smell of leather polish, tyre tread and fresh chamoises.
Free, October 15, 361 Milperra Road Bankstown.
Wander traffic-free on five inner-city streets, each closed for daylong spring festivals featuring live DJs, pop-up bars, roving performers, live cooking demonstrations and restaurants, bars and cafes spilling their tables onto the road to offer cheap bites and drinks.
11am-10pm, between October 14 and November 18, streets in Glebe, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Ultimo and Potts Point
Listen to European duo violinist Noa Wildschut and pianist Elisabeth Brauss in a performance of music by Schumann, Debussy, Messiaen and Enescu, with a new work by Melbourne composer May Lyon.
Family tickets: $25 per person, Student rush $15, November 18, 20, City Recital Hall, Angel Place, city.
Catch comedy duo SketchSHE, Madison Lloyd and Lana Kington, at the Hot Jazz Picnic.Credit: Anton Rehrl
HOT JAZZ PICNIC
If you’re a member of the music industry or a creative performer, apply for one of 500 complimentary tickets to this new, one-day harbourside jazz festival. Curated by ARIA award-winning musician Elana Stone, and featuring Dan Barnett, Emma Pask, the Morrisons, the Vampires and comedy duo SketchSHE, the event also features self-curated picnic hampers and an optional jazz vibes dress code.
Lyne Park, Rose Bay, November 25
SOUTH EVELEIGH STREET PARTY
Grab a $20 ticket for a potting shed session with Gardening Australia’s Clarence Slockee, a Cudgenburra/Bundjalung Aboriginal man passionate about native plant education and green spaces. It’s part of an inaugural all-ages arts, food, music and community festival.
Free general entry, October 5 & 6, 2pm-7pm, Village Green, South Eveleigh
MANLY ART GALLERY & MUSEUM
Tour Adam Cullen: Art is Pain Relief, a free exhibition of rarely seen works by the late Australian artist, winner of the 2000 Archibald Prize and exponent of bold, daring and often provocative grunge-style art.
October 13-December 3, Manly Art Gallery & Museum, 1a West Esplanade, Manly, Tue to Sun, 10am-5pm
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