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Introducing Dr. Tim Kurylowicz, Executive Director of Eastern Riverina Arts

This month we introduce Dr. Tim Kurylowicz, Executive Director at Eastern Riverina Arts.

From launching accessible creative spaces and hosting online festivals, to tackling the challenges in today’s climate and excitingly planning to host the fourth and final Artstate later this year, Tim explains how Eastern Riverina Arts has been a “proactive presence” to artists across the region – a region that, like many, has been reeling from the triple-whammy of drought, fire and Covid.

 

Tell us about your role at Eastern Riverina Arts

At ERA we are gardeners. We tend our creative patches with attention and delight. Cross pollinating skillsets and ideas, fertilising projects and with funding and support, occasionally cajoling artists to be brave and think big.
We’re in the thick of some exciting and timely projects this year that demonstrate the immense value of using creativity to tackle the big challenges faced by our communities. Whether it be creating a festival to support communities devastated by bushfire, nurturing creative businesses to flourish and rejuvenate a Covid-impacted economy, or supporting people still impacted by the ravages of drought, we’re working to better lives and celebrate our wonderful regional communities.

 

Eastern Riverina Arts has just launched PLATFORM, and hosted the very first PLATFORM LIVE, online festival. Tell us more about PLATFORM, how the concept came to life and the response you have received so far.

PLATFORM’s aim is twofold: It’s about making the existing events and festivals in our region more welcoming and appealing to people with disability, and it’s about showcasing the amazing work of artists with disability to the broader community.
For the past year we’ve been taking PLATFORM to events and festivals in our region. It’s a converted shipping container that operates as a chill out zone, sensory space, stage and art installation. Everybody loves exploring the space, but we also get the very welcome feedback that some people with disability actually choose to attend a festival because they know PLATFORM will be there!
Of course COVID-19 put all the big events and festivals on hold – so we got creative and put together PLATFORM LIVE, a free online one-day festival featuring some of Australia’s boldest, funniest, creative, and most provocative artists and performers with disability. It was a great success and if you’re quick you can still catch the festival at www.platformriverina.com which will be available to stream till mid-July. The whole event includes closed captioning, Auslan interpretation and audio description, so it’s accessible to a wide audience too.

The response has been terrific. Lots of comments about the incredible quality of the artworks themselves – a lineup that included comedy, contemporary dance, burlesque, live music, performance poetry and visual artworks. We also were proud to work with expert technicians to produce a live stream with national appeal, from an office in Wagga Wagga.

 

Planning is underway for Artstate to be held in Wagga Wagga in November 2020, and Eastern Riverina Arts is with RASNW to deliver the event. Tell us about what you have in store for the event, and what attendees can expect to see from the Eastern Riverina region during Artstate.

November is going to be a huge time for arts and culture in Wagga Wagga. As well as a stimulating conference program full of creators and doers, you can expect to experience an arts program that will delight and challenge.

Imagine starting your day with the sound of a morning call echoing across the city, broadcast through some of the biggest car stereos Wagga Wagga has to offer.
You’ll experience a powerful opening ceremony reclaiming Wiradjuri language and some traditional practices not seen in urban Wagga for over a century.
A maelstrom of art exhibitions and performances from regional artists will criss-cross form and genre, including heart-rending works tackling regional experiences of drought, fire and pandemic.
Each evening in a secluded courtyard setting, you’ll be treated to a diverse lineup from bands to burlesque in the festival’s pop-up club.
And envisage a region that includes high country and golden riverine plains, simply bursting with enticing gems worth exploring on your way to and from Artstate.
Stay tuned for the full program and plan your experience now!

 

Regional Australia has faced many challenges over the past few years. We have seen crippling drought, floods, devastating bushfires and now a global health pandemic, all take a toll on our communities. How has Eastern Riverina Arts responded to constant change and challenge; and how do you think the Arts and creative practices can support, inspire or relieve people in times of uncertainty?

It’s been a time of shock and surprise, with many country communities reeling from the triple-whammy of drought, fire and now Covid. Eastern Riverina Arts has been a proactive presence throughout reaching out to artists across our region with support and assistance.

I’m very awake to the immense possibility of this moment for our communities, and the unique opportunities that creative people can unleash to connect and renew communities, economies and the civic square more broadly.

As well as Artstate, we’re working on two important renewal projects in our region. Arbour Festival will be a 50 day multi-arts festival that will commemorate the first anniversary of the devastating Dunns Rd bushfire. The program will feature a host of fire-affected artists and performers, and plant new memories in a stunning forest clearing that was miraculously spared the inferno. We’ve also started work on a CBD renewal project focussed in Wagga Wagga that will see us supporting creative businesses to grow, and to energise the retail districts that have been hit hard by the Covid shutdown. It’s a three year project that we hope will redefine how people engage with their city centre (hint: shopping’s great, but why not come downtown to create, engage and be entertained!).