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All Happening on the Western Frontier

 

Western Riverina Arts is a recent success story for Regional Arts NSW. After several years of lobbying the local councils and the government, Western Riverina Arts was created in 2010 and Dr Greg Pritchard was appointed as the inaugural RADO for our network’s newest RAB.

Part of the challenge RANSW faced in lobbying for the board’s formation was convincing stakeholders that it was critically important that Narrandera, Griffith and Leeton shire councils, with their vibrant and diverse artistic cultures, be formed into their own distinct RAB, rather than being folded into the borders of existing ones.  Home to a vast number of Aboriginal language groups and varied modern architectural influences, with an interesting history of Italian migrants introducing micro-farming practice and the cultural impact of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, the Western Riverina has a unique identity that RANSW felt needed to be represented.

Dr Greg Pritchard MA (Visual Arts) is a poet, writer, visual, conceptual and digital artist, performer, theatre maker, puppeteer, regional arts worker and rock climber who took on the challenge of fostering and promoting the region’s artists. He is a self-described ‘mongrel artist’ (practices in any medium that he finds useful) and he worked hard to establish networks in most genres across the region, which largely did not exist before he came into the area. Despite little cultural infrastructure outside of the major centre of Griffith and very few practicing artists across the whole region, he successfully forged strong connections with various groups across the area and arranged for more artistic opportunities to be available for the region’s artists.

During his time as a RADO, Greg was able to continue his own art practice and took leave for residencies in Singapore and at the Jatiwangi Art Factory in Indonesia, as well as performing Oliver’s Tale, a theatre board funded, one-person performance, on a remote Victorian salt lake. He co-founded Thieves Theatre in 2009 which stages performances with video projection, found spaces, inflatables, and puppets. He leaves his appointment at Western Riverina Arts to devote himself full-time to his art. Shortly he will set off to Senegal for a month-long residency, before travelling through Europe and India to visit the great theatres in the southern states. He will return to Indonesia before coming back to Australia where he plans to live cheaply on the South Coast of NSW and finish his novel. We wish him the very best in his future endeavours.

Derek Motion will be replacing Greg as the Western Riverina Arts’ RADO. Derek has a BA in Literature and received his PhD from Charles Sturt University in 2011. He has lectured in Creative writing at CSU for the past 5 years. He was also the Artistic Director of the Booranga Writers’ Centre in Wagga Wagga and is now relocating with his family from there to Leeton to commence his position as the new RADO.

He brings his enthusiasm for all forms of art and an ability to conceive and manage relevant community-based projects to the position. “This is the newest funded regional arts area and it seems like a systemic approach to supporting the arts is still a relatively new thing,” he says. “I think this role will offer me lots of scope to implement plans and to build upon the existing creative communities in the area.”

RANSW welcomes Derek to the position.

 

Image: RANSW RADO meeting at Walsh Bay (Greg Pritchard in red shirt in front row, Derek 3rd from right in the back row) 2013