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Homegrown Arts Scene | Mid North Coast


This is an extract from a column written by Kelly Stoner (current acting RADO of Arts Mid North Coast) for the Coffs Coast Advocate.

“When I moved to the region six years ago, I left behind the vibrant city of Newcastle and a thriving arts and culture scene. As the years passed by, I found myself missing some of what I had left behind, like being able to see live music most nights of the week or to take a slow meander down just one street and experience a feast of art galleries. Newcastle has always had a strong pulsing underground DIY arts scene as well – it made the city exciting and interactive.

However, the longer I stay in my new hometown, the more I see that this region has DIY arts and culture initiatives that are forces to be reckoned with! It’s not so much an underground pulse however, because the initiatives, festivals, events and exhibitions that are formulated here are so successful and well supported, that the usual tag of DIY does not seem to fit.

It seems that most of the events which take place in this region, have been created by highly dedicated and enthused individuals or community groups, mostly in a voluntary capacity, who desire to bring their particular passion to their local area. If you want to attend a great classical or jazz music festival each year, why travel to the city, why not start one where you live, and bring the people to you!

Working for Arts Mid North Coast over the years, I have been continually surprised to discover that both the larger and smaller events that call this region home, were usually started in someone’s kitchen over a cup of tea or through an excited local group meeting.

They were started through passion, which was then followed through with action, enabling arts and culture to become and continue to be, a highly present and valued part of our local communities and economies in this region.

Fast approaching events on the Creative Coast program are testament to this. The Bellingen Shire Arts Week and the Bellingen Music Festival have been put together though the sweat and dedication of passionate locals, who give up there free-time to create something we can all enjoy and benefit from. The Bellingen River Festival is another such event that grew from a seed of an idea into a very well-attended and cherished event on the yearly calendar. At the Centro Shopping Centre in Toormina, the Coffs Harbour Arts Council Community Gallery and Shop has taken up residence and is proving the validity of their space, through fantastic visitation numbers.

Other events such as Camp Creative see people travel from all across the country to participate in arts activities, and annual events such as Coast Out in Coffs Harbour are so unique, that people travel from overseas just to attend. Organisations such as Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance are so innovative in their philosophies and approaches, that they are inspiring people, not just across the nation but around the globe.

What we do have is an absolutely thriving arts and culture scene. But best of all – it has been envisioned, dreamed, crafted and birthed by the very passionate and creative people, who call this place their home.”


To find out more about some of the great arts and culture events on the Mid North Coast region visit