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May 16, 2021

Raising money with music

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With 100 per cent of their profits donated to a local charity Nudge Nudge Wink Wink, the party with a conscience, has become something of an enigma. This February’s event raises money for The Shift Project based in Byron Bay; SHIFT supports women through the challenges from homelessness to independence. This month’s event was more popular than ever with tickets selling out in just three hours.

Cunning Stunts brings together collective artistic skills, knowledge and community spirit to create awareness and generate funds for incredible local charities that tirelessly devote themselves to supporting and helping northern NSW residents achieve a better quality of life. The Cunning Stunts seem to be living up to their name, and this friendly foursome – Sarah and Darren Sutton and Dale Stephen and Laura Peck – spoke with The Echo about their vision.

Tell me how you guys came up with the idea for Nudge Nudge – what was your vision?

Lord Sut aka Darren Sutton is the founder of Cunning Stunts and the Nudge Nudge Wink Wink events.

After discussions with Sarah his wife, who had just completed her diploma in community services, and observed firsthand how there was no funding for local NGO services, or that they were being closed down, the realisation that he could combine his love of music while raising funds for local charities led to the conception of NNWW in the spring of 2015.

The vision was to create awareness and funding for local underground charities that do amazing work – with little funding – that ultimately all help improve the lives of northern NSW residents through exciting and unique FUNdraising DJ-based music events.

Why did you want to raise money? How much have you raised so far?

Sut had a personal desire to do something for our local community in a positive way. It turned out all four of us each felt the same.

Economic conditions – Sarah, Sut’s wife, had highlighted the recent news of the downward trend in funding for local NFPs especially for local grassroots charities, and the lack of support they receive along with the reduced support and commitment the federal government was demonstrating.

A thought that while he personally could give time and money each month, both would have been limited, so he thought about how to extend the outcomes and create awareness and fundraising in a monthly focused event instead. We have raised $107,885 across 22 events, providing funding to 16 different organisations.

What impacts have you managed to have on community groups?

Significant, the funding has at times saved programs from closing, and brought much-needed funds in times of need, lifelines, hope and growth. It has helped some organisations fund programs they wanted to launch; it has had a direct positive impact on the lives of those who are supported by the charities we have helped.

The charities are blown away as much as we are by how much money we now raise for them and by how quickly we can do it while having as much fun as possible.

As two couples, what do you both bring to the creative partnership?

Friendship, amazing skill sets, diversity, camaraderie, synergy, creativity, trust, respect, talent, complementary and wide-ranging music taste and ultimately empathy, love and compassion.

Nudge Nudge is extremely successful. What’s your secret?

We believe that our professional backgrounds and expertise, combined with our experience, the tight-knit team, our music policy, the DJs we book, and ultimately the shared non-commercial charitable aims all combine to make NUDGE so special.

We enable a community to come together and help its own. We attract an extremely diverse and loving crowd from all walks of life; young, old, families and even dogs are welcome to get down in the shed. It’s the magic sauce that create the party with a conscience that has a vibe unmatched by any other event we have seen in this region. Many of our interstate and international DJs rate NUDGE as one of their best gig experiences ever. We have a very loyal and dedicated crowd.

All tickets for our 4 February event sold out in less than three hours. So ultimately it’s down to the very loyal and faithful NUDGERS – our patrons – and with that it has organically built with such a loving and proud sentiment. We work hard on our labour of love and don’t make any money ourselves out of NUDGE – so this non-commercial aspect has helped us enormously with true acceptance by a wide community.

What kind of music do you go for at these events?

It’s important to us that the music is accessible to our diverse audience and we like to bring in a range of DJs to vary and suit the mood. From early-door mellow beginnings to end-of-night hedonistic finishes. Our DJs play music across genres with one requirement – it has to be really good. Our resident DJs Lord Sut and Dale Stephen choose guests from a range of DJs from up-and-coming to well-known local favourites and interstate or international DJs of the highest calibre. There is a massive waiting list of people wanting to play and we are super picky about whom we choose and when we program them – to ensure the highest quality and diversity for our audience. We’ve had some amazing guest DJs such as Norm De Plume, Katalyst, Miles Cleret – head of Soundway Records, James Scott, Nick Field, Phil Smart, and one of our beloved local regulars is Sydney Disco God and legend Stephen Allkins, who joins Scott Pullen for our February event.

How are you going to innovate the event this year?

We are open minded to any ways we can push the fundraising harder at NUDGE and would love to bring more artistic elements in… and to keep on finding those charities that people may not have heard of that need help and do awesome work. Ultimately this year will be about launching our own cunning plans and launching new events that we can actually pay ourselves from for a change. NUDGE will stay on the same format for charitable aims only.

Any plans to get bigger?

Nudge Nudge Wink Wink is a perfect format and we would not want to mess with or change the formula too much. We do have some cunning plans to reveal soon with some other events that we are planning that will be very different from what NUDGE has become.

Stay tuned at www.cunningstunts.com.au for the latest stunts

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