Caroline Downer - diverse creative landscapes of the North West29.08.2019
Introducing Caroline Downer, Executive Director Arts North West
Caroline Downer is the Executive Director of Arts North West with over 20 years’ experience in the gallery sector, in curatorial and public programs and as the previous Director of the New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale. Caroline holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Music and a MA (Museum Studies) from the University of Melbourne. She participates in a broad range of the arts from visual arts and film to music and plays the viola da gamba in her spare time.
Tell us about your role at Arts North West
I am the Executive Director of Arts North West. We are the regional arts development organisation for the New England North West which covers 98,500 km2 and services 12 local government areas. Our core business is to build cultural community capacity. This includes a multitude of day to day enquiries, providing immediate and quality advice, information and professional support to artists and organisations. We run a number of projects and programs which aim to increase participation in arts and cultural activities in the region. We also forge key partnerships and networks throughout the New England North West which inform our research, promotion and advocacy we oversee with our stakeholders.
What is the arts and culture scene like in the North West?
Our scene is very diverse with excellent grass-roots networks, regular events, established artists and a strong cultural identity. With three regional art galleries (Tamworth, Moree, Armidale) and three conservatoriums (Tamworth, Gunnedah, Armidale), there is a focus on visual arts and music across the region. There is also a strong museums network, and Armidale is considered a creative hot spot for literature.
Artstate will be held in Tamworth later this year. How will Artstate benefit arts and culture in the North West and the wider community?
We are delighted that Tamworth is hosting the state regional arts conference in November. It is a great opportunity to highlight excellence in regional arts practice, and to have a conversation around some of the key issues. The Speakers Program will explore the themes of On Country – In Country and Arts in the Age of Uncertainty with a range of regional, national and international speakers. The Arts Program will showcase the work of creatives across the New England region.
What are your key program highlights for Artstate?
Arts North West highlights in the Arts Program include:
- Art Word Place: An exhibition exploring the interaction between writers and artists from our region at the Tamworth Regional Gallery
- “Ngami-li”: Come and see (ngami-li) the stories of Elders, Aboriginal artists and community of the New England North West.
- Connections Creativity Communities: Explore, discover and experience the arts and cultural gems of the Arts North West region.
- Putting the Pieces Together: An Arts North West arts and disability project
Highlights in the Speakers Program include:
- Miyay Miyay: A work in progress presentation of the creative collaboration which tells the story of the Gamilaroi Seven Sisters Songline
- Authors’ Café: Come and meet our local authors in an intimate café setting. Chat about where they get their ideas and inspiration and find out what it takes to be a published author living in regional NSW.
There is also a pre-Artstate event on Thursday 31 October:
- Engage, Involve, and Connect: Workshop for Visitor Experience Volunteers: A New England North West Museum Network Event with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences