Bondi is at its quietest in winter. Well, so you’d think. Such is not the case, however, because for the second year running Tamarama Rock Surfers are hosting Bondi Feast 2013.

This year, over 100 artists will present an energising ten-day lineup of comedy, theatre, music, storytelling and visual arts. Then there’s the all-important hot food and mulled wine of course.

Co-curator of Bondi Feast, Associate Artistic Director of Tamarama Rock Surfers and UK native Phil Spencer is largely responsible managing a program that shines a bright light on all the Sydney has to offer throughout the colder months – a time during which many would be forgiven for looking beyond our national borders to seek creative inspiration. According to Spencer, however, we have all we need right here and it’s damn good. “For someone who’s an outsider it’s hilarious that Australians think of their country as a cultural backwater,” he says, “My passion is independent theatre, but the quality of all art forms that are made in Sydney is absolutely comparable to anything going on in London or Glasgow or wherever. It’s just critical mass and frankly, we get a lot more government support over here.”

This year, Bondi Feast has the unenviable task of living up to the success of 2012’s inaugural program, but a quick perusal of the lineup promises one that the 2013 lineup will be just as exciting. “Well the first year went really well and while there was some surprise that we were there, we threw the festival together in about a month and a half and it was a real success,” says Spencer. “So really the criteria for this year was that we wanted to do it, but we wanted to make sure we didn’t do the same things.

“There was no point just repeating what worked because that’s a bit boring really. We knew the format worked and wanted to program outside of our immediate network. As much as I try to be innovative in the way I curate a program it really comes down to a bit of comedy, a bit of music and mostly theatre, food and drink. The staple formula underlying it is just what I know I enjoy on a good night out and sometimes that’s about tricking people. I lure them in with discount beer and then go ‘oh look here, a selection of new plays’.”

With the Sydney premiere of Certain Men, an absurd part play, part installation that was a hit at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival on the Bondi Feast bill, variety is key to this year’s program. “We don’t do a traditional call-out,” says Spencer, “Bondi Feast is heavily curated. Zoe [Bondi Feast co-curator] works a lot in spoken word and storytelling events and I in theatre so we got some people in to curate the comedy and music elements.

“That said we pushed ourselves to be broad and with some things we took a real punt like the ’80s Physique Aerobics dance class. Someone we know went and said it was the best thing they’d ever done so we put it in the festival hoping that maybe 100 visitors will come in spandex. It might die miserably on its arse, but I don’t think it will and it showcases our willingness to be diverse.”

BY KRISSI WEISS

Bondi Feast runs July 16-27 at Bondi Pavilion. Head here for more details.

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