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Arts Northern Rivers Announce Program for If These Halls Could Talk

Arts Northern Rivers today announced the program for If These Halls Could Talk; a region-wide season of contemporary arts events being held in seven community halls from the 17 September – 17 December 2016.

The program line-up features international and locally renowned artists and creative teams who have each transformed one of the seven halls into an immersive site-specific work in response to the unique narrative of the hall and its community.

Arts Northern Rivers CEO Peter Wood said, ‘Arts Northern Rivers has created an ambitious program for If These Halls Could Talk that moves across performance, installations and film. The artists have produced bold and captivating new works which will activate these historic spaces giving new life and creating new memories for these halls.’

The huge program touches on theatre, music, opera, visual arts, film and circus and kicks off with a live art event by internationally acclaimed artist Craig Walsh at The Channon Hall on 17 September.

With The Grain invites audiences to contribute to the work on the night by joining a lantern lit walk to the hall, reminiscent of the pre-electricity days where the community would use the full-moon and lanterns to make their way to the hall. Inside, Walsh’s large scale responsive artwork celebrates the identity of the iconic village, fusing the old with the new accompanied by live music and delicious food and drinks made by the local community.

Local favourites Spaghetti Circus in collaboration with Joey Ruigrok van der Werven and Roundabout Theatre will be in the Richmond Valley on 1 October to celebrate Broadwater Rileys Hill Hall’s 20th Birthday by throwing it an all-out theatrical party with a giant cake, vibrant street parade and a long table feast. It’s set to be the most fabulous birthday party you can imagine and everyone is invited to be part of it!

On 15 October Meerschaum Vale Hall in the Ballina Shire will host Land to Vale; a film premiere by H.W. Collective whose films were official selections for Flickerfest International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen Film Festival in Germany and Très Court International Film Festival in Paris. Land to Vale traces Meerschaum Vale’s vast history, from its traditional Indigenous landowners through to modern-day fourth generation farming families, and weaves together rich archival material with present-day footage into a hauntingly beautiful visual poem.

Local Yaegl woman and visual artist, Frances Belle Parker will transform Eatonsville Hall through a large scale immersive installation titled Can You Hear the Whispering Walls that maps the land, the hall and the people of Eatonsville. The afternoon of 22 October will begin with champagne and canapes on the lawn of the hall to acquaint guests with the hall and its landscape overlooking the Clarence River.

NORPA’s new work Dreamland will open on 23 November at Eureka Hall in the rolling hills of the Byron Bay hinterland. Dreamland is a time capsule of local history, characters and ghosts that have frequented Eureka Hall since it was built in 1906. Tickets are selling fast for season that features a multi-talented cast performing the dance of life in all its mystery; sometimes quick, sometimes slow, elegantly together, and crazy alone – or with an axe!

West of the ranges in the small town of Bonalbo a plucky band of farmers, artists, engineers and the occasional school-teacher have been taking on the scheming financial overlords of the Australian film industry. On December 10 their tale will be told in Bonnywood Rising; a live-cinema performance produced by Southern Cross University’s Associate Professor and award-winning media artist Dr Grayson Cooke. Featuring live narration by Ewingar resident Alan Highfield and music by post-rock band Amphibian Bonnywood Rising tells the true histories (and the slightly embellished ones) of Kyogle’s Bonalbo and District Memorial Hall and stars the unknown celebrities of the Bonalbo community.

The four-month program closes with Tumbulgum and the Countdown to Midnight at the First Supper Between Now and Forever a wondrous and heart-warming performance by one of Australia’s major performing arts companies, Opera Queensland. For two nights only on the 16 and 17 December Tumbulgum Hall will be transformed into an other-worldly place, a place where souls meet and where the community comes together. And while souls meet this December, the audience will be taken on a musical journey into the next world and into forever.

Mr Wood said, ‘The scale and calibre of the If These Halls Could Talk events is something rarely seen outside of metropolitan centres. Arts Northern Rivers is thrilled to have worked with these acclaimed artists and creative teams to be able present this program to our region’.

‘We are also pleased that many of the events are free of charge so we encourage everyone book their tickets early and take this opportunity to experience the diversity of stories and people of our region told through the eyes of our community halls’.

The full program of events can be found on the If These Halls Could Talk website.

If These Halls Could Talk project is funded by Arts NSW Regional Partnership funding.