Introducing Mark Reedman, Executive Director of Arts Upper Hunter31.03.2020
This month we introduce Mark Reedman, the Executive Director of Arts Upper Hunter.
The Arts Upper Hunter Region includes the local government areas of Dungog, Muswellbrook, Singleton and the Upper Hunter. The region hosts a diverse range of industries from mining to wine, equine, defence, agriculture and tourism, as a result Mark has an interesting role creating new events, workshops and opportunities in the Arts sector.
Tell us about your role at Arts Upper Hunter.
My role at Arts Upper Hunter as Executive Director is to plan our activities and, with the help of office manager Sandra Reichel, make them happen across our four Local Government Areas of Dungog, Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter. In a typical year, we’ll contract nine or ten artists and presenters to run our workshops and events.
Describe the arts and culture scene in your region?
Organisationally, the region’s artistic activity is largely volunteer driven. There are two large amateur theatre societies, three main visual arts societies who run, among other things, annual prizes, four main historical societies who maintain museums, several writers’ groups and a photography group. There’s also a range of volunteer run festivals, including the Scone Literary Festival.
In terms of creative industry, there’s a handful of small to medium commercial galleries plus a number of visual artists and craftspeople carving out a living from their studios. There are several professional writers and filmmakers, often nestled in bush around the region.
From mining to wine, equine, defence, agribusiness and tourism – just to name a few – the Upper Hunter region has many economic drivers and industries that it caters to. How does this wide-spread network influence, inspire and contribute to the nature of the arts explored in your region; and are there any challenges that the arts help to overcome from having such a broad range of industries operating in this relatively small region?
The Upper Hunter is a diverse region. Some 60% of NSW’s coal is mined here. Two coal fired stations produce some 35% of NSW’s electricity. Alongside sits the equine industry, which is ranked second only to Kentucky, USA in terms of the concentration of thoroughbred stud properties and the quality and number of bloodlines. There’s grazing, agriculture, viticulture and the Australian Army’s Lone Pine Barracks School of Infantry (which has an amazing museum). And central to all this is the World Heritage Site of the Barrington Tops containing some of the last of the Gondwana rainforests.
The region’s two main cultural institutions are the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre and the Upper Hunter Conservatorium of Music, also based in Muswellbrook.
What are some of the key highlights/events/projects you are most looking forward to for Arts Upper Hunter?
The thing I’m looking forward to most this year is Arts Upper Hunter’s first foray into dance for people with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia.
The world is full of so much uncertainty at the moment, and we know that COVID-19 is having an impact on many industry sectors. From your perspective and position how can people support the Arts, and the Arts in return support others in need across your region through this time, and do you have any other comments on COVID-19 and its impact on Arts Upper Hunter?
Arts Upper Hunter now rotates who attends the office each day. Emails are being checked regularly and we are both able to be contacted on our mobiles. The Arts Upper Hunter website is continually being updated with any changes to arts and cultural activities, so head to www.artsupperhunter.com for more information.
As the region is volunteer driven, we are really feeling the impact of changes and cancellations of Art Prizes. Moving forward, we hope our Arts community is driven to push through this difficult time.