Regional Arts NSW
Skip to content

Meet Our Executive Directors

Introducing Rose Marin, Executive Director at Southern Tablelands Arts

This month we introduce Rose Marin, Executive Director of Southern Tablelands Arts.

Having recently joined the RADO network, Rose sheds some light on how she is finding her feet in the new role, amongst an ever changing creative climate. Rising to the challenges and stimulations of the role, Rose is excited to see how the arts are reinvented in the coming years, and shares with us her creatively written take on what “The Arts are”, to top it all off!

 

Firstly, welcome to the RADO network! You have only recently joined the team as Executive Director at Southern Tablelands Arts, but can you tell us a little bit about your role, and how you are finding it so far?

Thanks, it’s fabulous to be here. RANSW is an organisation I’ve always admired and to be heading up one of the RADOs is a privilege. Being an Executive Director is a complex mix of servicing multiple communities and art forms.  To me, this equates to challenging and stimulating. The last few months have been one of meeting interesting people and learning about their vision so I know how best STA can support them. I don’t think you could ever get bored in this role, it’s a place I hope to make a real contribution.

 

Can you describe the arts and culture scene of the Southern Tablelands region?

Diverse and rich. We have top national artists, grassroots amateur community groups and everything in between. The Arts play an intrinsic part of making the Southern Highlands and Tablelands such rich places to live and work, and our six partner councils know and understand this, so there is a lot going on.

Though I’ve lived in the area for more than seven years, this new role is giving me a lens and focus to get the know this place – in twelve months, my answer would be better, and in another five years better again.

 

Can you tell us about some of the projects that you are working on at the moment, and provide some insight into what exciting projects we can expect to see from the region in 2020 and into 2021?

STA have just packed up the full time office and we are rolling out Mobile Offices throughout our region. It’s a dynamic phase and one that will help connect us to the community, while increasing participation with an understanding of our services.

We are in the middle of a Waste to Art project with Wollondilly Council and are just rolling out the Virtual to Actual Performance Poetry project. It’s primarily delivered online but with performances at two of our regions Writers’ Festivals.  Having more online options are shrinking distances and it’s a huge silver lining to the current situation that STA will carry forward into our planning. STA Screen has just re-started up the movie program and we are booking up a summer of outdoor movie events.

STA are heavily involved with multiple community led and council supported projects such as the Goulburn 2020 program, Indigenous weaving programs and others.

We are also overhauling our online presence with a new website, creative directory and kids’ creative portal. This is happening parallel to a renewed social media emphasis and refreshed newsletter.

For STA 2021 will be a year supporting projects that help us reimagine our world and rebuild the connections as we emerge from the pandemic. While there are some projects in store, I think 2021 will be a year of reinvention, and that is exciting!

 

From droughts to floods, fires and now a global health pandemic, Regional Australia has faced many challenges over the past few years, and all have taken a toll on our communities. How have the artists and organisations across the Southern Tablelands 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?

Yep it’s been a super tough year. I have found that whatever the challenge, the arts community is there to support people through their fears and pain, but most of all the arts offer hope and provide powerful vehicles for expression and shared experience.

The arts sector is always part of a community’s healing after adversity, even while the artists and creatives themselves are some of the hardest hit. It’s darn hard work and creatives need to look after themselves as well. STA has always had a strong arts health focus, and to continue this tradition we have partnered up with Yass Valley artist, Camile Kersley on a project for creatives to look after themselves while they help others.

While I believe in arts as a healing force, to say this is arts purpose would be like describing a forest as the branch of one tree – all be it an important one. At the risk of becoming overly sentimental, I’d like to sign off with some words I wrote a while back in an effort to articulate this sentiment better.

The ARTS are:
The reason to go out in the morning
A place worth going to
The light at the end of the tunnel
Where we find answers to all our questions
Art makes us dangerous and hard to control
Creativity makes us think

Reminds us why we are here and what we are capable of

Art is thoughtfulness made real
The best of our potential
A celebration to share with those you love and those you don’t know
The ARTS are what we wish for and how we wish

 

Introducing Aanya Whitehead, Executive Director at Western Riverina Arts

This month we introduce Aanya Whitehead, Executive Director of Western Riverina Arts.

Commencing in the role only seven months ago, Aanya shares with us how she is navigating and learning in her new position. She emphasises the important role that Western Rivera Arts plays in supporting and advocating for the artists and organisations across the region to ensure that creativity and culture can continue to grow, even through the most challenging of times!

 

Tell us about your role at Western Riverina Arts.

I am from a film background and I am really loving this job.  I have only had the role for seven months, but it has been very much about connecting through to the creative community at all levels, and I am finding here in the Western Riverina area that arts and culture spans so many parts of it.  Arts are embedded into many community organisations, housing, health, wellbeing and education.

From the arts and culture perspective, I feel this role is a service and development job.  Artists are the highest priority and because I am new, I am perhaps supersensitive to this and want to listen. I want to hear their story or situation, and I want to be able to have them feel they are serviced in some way – be it informing them of funding and opportunities, or simply having another person’s point of view on what they are doing and how to work out ways to achieve their creative aims and dreams.  Even being part of an actual situation where they may be struggling to find a way for their art and how to fit that into their lives in cases where they are overrun by other life circumstances (such as a pandemic!!).  In my early stages of being in this position, I have made a point of being available and connected, and I realise this may settle down, but I am still working out how best to service the creative community here.

WRA has a very good Communications Officer, Camille Whitehead.  We both started at same time, so the office has literally changed its face.  In the early days most people contacting us assumed we are family, and it’s funny, if our names were Smith it wouldn’t matter, but Whitehead is unusual.  In the beginning, to be polite, we would advise people that we weren’t related; most people assumed she was my daughter!  That being said I would be proud if she were.  Camille is very talented, hardworking, good willing, and supports WRA terrifically.

 

Can you describe the arts and culture scene of the Western Riverina region?

The Local Government Areas that WRA cover are Narrandera, Griffith, Leeton and Murrumbidgee.  This covers a square area of 13,600 km with a combined population of 50,000 and is Murrumbidgee River country – flat, with incredible skyscapes, beautiful natural open bush areas, some very slight hill ranges, striking natural Cyprus pines, and many, many open roads.

Our biggest town is Griffith, and its Theatre, run by their Council, is on the map for performing regional tours which is significant.  Griffith is well resourced and has a vibrant arts scene. This community are doing a lot culturally. They have a town band, a music conservatorium, a performing arts group and a huge visual arts scene.

The Wiradjuri Community also display strong cultural presence in experimental arts, women’s arts, and many lively community events. We have a vibrant First Nations culture across the region, with active artists who are starting their own businesses and online sales points.  The LGA’s surrounding Griffith are smaller centres in quite remote areas but are prioritising the upscaling of cultural tourism.

The CAD Factory is here in Narrandera, with Sarah and Vic McEwan collaborating on and forging visionary projects. To me, they are the Prometheus of arts activity here. They are passionate about their projects and totally support all who collaborate with them.  Generally, the region values the arts, for example the library network and other institutions like museums and cultural centres make substantial efforts to engage and promote the arts.

WRA promote and highlight all cultural practitioners whenever possible.  With big distances between places there is focus on connecting. For instance, Narrandera makes efforts to connect through to Darlington Point and Coleambally, Leeton makes efforts to connect through to Barellan, even though they may not form part of the same LGA there is a natural connection made, and this has the result of resources being shared.  It is a wonderful spider’s web of arts and cultural activity.  There are many collaborative projects, such as poets working with painters, musicians recording soundtracks for visual exhibitions, filmmakers working with Wiradjuri cultural workers.

Our most southern town, Jerilderie naturally connects south, but I make a point of regular visits there to talk through what they are planning to develop and keep that connection in place with the rest of the region.  Jerilderie is very isolated and beautiful – its town, its atmosphere, its environment has an active and promoted arts community, significantly First Nations.

 

From droughts to floods, fires and now a global health pandemic, Regional Australia has faced many challenges over the past few years, and all have taken a toll on our communities. How has Western 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?

The Western Riverina region has and continues to face many challenges.  We are still in a drought, and whilst we have been through winter and haven’t noticed it because there is condensation and cold, we have had barely any rain.  With Covid, there is trepidation economically across the region which is a real worry.  There is also a high concern for the natural environment and a number of artists are expressing this, working on projects that highlight the great centuries old river red gums that face dying in the drought.  The health of the river, the fragile environment, the precious koalas and birdlife; looking after the land and learning how to listen to Wiradjuri wisdom about the land seem to be a strong cultural theme at the moment.  There are also practical setbacks.  In some areas internet access is extremely limited, and there is inconsistent phone reception. Covid left many people with no discretionary income, and we’ve had a number of artists and organisations struggling to managing the basics, like purchasing phone credit, paying for fuel and even the cost of postage for their works. At the most basic level this leaves artists and organisations, at times, unable to put grants in; or they are being let down in other ways, like limited or no staffing to help keep things moving forward.  WRA really pays attention to this within the cultural community and we try to use our administrative resources to offer help so people don’t miss out.

 

WRA has recently release its 2019 Annual Report. Can you tell us about some of the projects that your team worked on, and provide some insight into what exciting projects we can expect to see from the region in 2020?

Derek Motion was the previous Executive Director and worked on a number of fantastic projects during the 2018-2019 period.  He also worked with Miriam Rystedt and Lillardia Briggs-Bouston, who were the Communications Officers at the time.  What really interests me is the work that Jason Richardson (aka bassling) does.  He collaborates with many very thought-provoking artists and has a fine and defined aesthetic. I think we are very lucky to have him as an artist in this area.

Last year he worked with Vic McEwan from the CAD Factory and Fiona Caldarevic to do some experimental recordings playing the Narrandera Guitar, the largest playable guitar in the world.  There were quite a number of visual arts exhibitions along with promotions by WRA featuring artists like:  Karly Sivewright, Linzie Ellis, Cory McKenzie Googar Art, Ann Rayment, Melanie Baulch, Treahna Hamm, Gabrielle Hegyes, Chris Kunko, Robert Moss, Jack Randell, Jo-Anne Southern, Kerri Weymouth and Lindee Russell.  Group exhibitions included the Penny Paniz Acquisitive Prize, Yield that was curated by Sarah and Vic McEwan, Murru, and Willandra Three Rivers.  The Griffith Regional Art Gallery has really got behind local artists, and they fully support established and emerging artists – it’s wonderful to see our institutions celebrating arts and providing so much opportunity.

We are halfway through 2020, and with Covid well, it’s self-explanatory. However, at the beginning of the year WRA played a big part of organising the Griffith Bushfire Benefit Concert, that was held in March. It was a fantastic family picnic event featuring all our local musicians and raised $6,000 for bushfire relief.

WRA also initiated this year’s The Riverina Lectures.  These are ongoing events where guest speakers talk on diverse subjects, and travel around the region to activate spaces and connect with regional audiences. Our first two were held by Vic McEwan in March, and Anthea da Silva in July, and were really successful! We already have enquiries for when the next ones will take place.  Another signature event for this year is the Yarruwala Wiradjuri Cultural Festival.  This has been organised by the Wiradjuri Community with a working partnership of many organisations including and among others Griffith Regional Theatre, Leeton and District Aboriginal Land Council, Clontarf, Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service, Deakin University and Western Riverina Arts.

Celebrating all things Wiradjuri is being programmed around the premiere play of Sunshine Super Girl, by Andrea James. This play is about Evonne Goolagong-Cawley who was born in Griffith and grew up in Barellan. The production is Artistically Directed by Dancer, Choreographer and Writer Kerry Johnson.  She runs Burrundi Theatre for Performing Arts and she is creating some of the most extraordinary content for the festival.  Kerry is a true visionary – she can work across all media platforms and really takes on the digital forms as a serious means of artistic expression. So, stay tuned for the premier of Sunshine Super Girl, it’s going to be great!

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!).

Introducing Kerry-Anne Jones, Executive Director of South West Arts

This month we introduce Kerry-Anne Jones, Executive Director at South West Arts.

Be it because of the travelling she gets to do across the extraordinary range of landscapes of the region, the influential impact that the various indigenous cultures have on the way they live, love and respect their land, or because she works with innovative people to bring to life creative projects all over the region, Kerry-Anne sheds some light on why she believes she has “the best job in the world!”

 

Tell us about your role at South West Arts 

Well, I have the best job in the world! I get to work with creative and innovative people right across our region and it doesn’t matter if I’m in Hay or Hillston, Berrigan or Balranald, I love the places, the landscape and the people of this region.

The hardest thing about being in lock down has been that I haven’t been able to travel the region and catch up with all of the extraordinary people that run the community galleries, our artists, the fantastic network of people that work in our local councils, the museum volunteers, the team at the Conservatorium of Music or the teachers in our schools.  I routinely travel between 60,000 to 70,000km each year around the region so to say I’m feeling a little tied down is an understatement.

 

Can you describe the arts and culture scene of the South West and how it may vary from each location and indigenous clan across the region? 

The South West Region of NSW is classified as either rural or remote. Our largest community is Deniliquin with a population of around 7000, the next largest is Moama with about 5,500 people then it goes down from there with towns like Hay, Balranald, Finley  and Tocumwal with populations around the 2000. The remaining towns and villages range from a few hundred to just 20. The 35,000 people that live in this region are spread out over 78,0000 sq km.  This is why I drive a lot!

With this geography comes varied landscapes and cultures; with the majestic Murray River as the region’s southern border comes vast red gum forests, wetlands and National Parks and the tourism hot spots of Cobram-Barooga, Echuca-Moama, Swan Hill and Robinvale-Euston. To the west, central and north of the region we have the huge, flat plains that are so flat and unobstructed you can actually see the curvature of the earth on the horizon. This part of the region is blessed with extraordinary landscapes and ancient indigenous cultures.  The traditional owners have been sharing their history and their passion for the land in places like Mungo – the home of Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, the oldest known human remains (42,000 years old); Barmah forest – the largest redgum forest in the world and home to Yorta Yorta nations with a documented connection to country of over 30,000 years; Yanga – the traditional tribal areas the Muthi Muthi people and considered to be of National environmental significance; and Mawonga – one of the largest Indigenous protected areas in NSW and an important place for teaching learning, connection and significant ancient rock art.

The Edwards and Murrumbidgee Rivers connect the rest of the region with a strong sense of place thanks to the Indigenous cultures that have existed along their path for thousands of years. There are eleven traditional owner groups across the South West Region: Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba, Muthi Muthi, Baraba Baraba, Wadi Wadi, Nari Nari, Madi Madi, Yitha Yotha, Wiradjuri, Paakantji and Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuan all of whom have influenced how we live, love and respect the landscapes in which we live.

 

South West Arts is the process of launching CoronaMoveOver – Can you tell us about this project and shed some light on how artists and arts organisations in the South West region adapting to these uncertain times?

CoronaMoveOver is an online platform aimed at keeping arts and culture happening across the region during lock down. Our focus was intended to share what our many creative colleagues are doing across the region and provide inspiration and support to artists, arts and cultural organisations and community audiences. However, like most organisations, we have found the online platform can provide a long-term solution to connecting audiences, providing opportunities and sharing information right across the region.

CoronaMoveOver will have a new name going forward and will link to our new and exciting youth and education programs, Creative Kids opportunities, workshops and the soon to be launched, youth community radio station THE END FM.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone and social media with artists and arts organisations across the region over the last couple of months and most have taken the opportunity to get those little tidy-up and sort-thing- out jobs completed, spend time being creative and thinking about the future of their arts practice.  We are a resilient region, evident by the way we have responded to crippling drought and now the Covid-19 Pandemic.  I know we will continue together to find innovative and creative opportunities and solutions to the ups and downs as they present themselves.

 

Despite cancellations and the postponing of programs and events, what are some of the key highlights/events/projects that South West Arts are working on and looking forward to at the moment?

THE END FM, youth run, youth led community radio station will be launching soon along with creative industry training and skills development opportunities from our new Education Hub. Our new Art Studio will soon be up and running with workshops and children’s activities being provided virtually and face-to-face once we can safely emerge from lock down.

The program will support much need Creative Industry education and career pathways for the regions youth which, until now, have not been available within the region.

We are excited to be able to connect directly with artists and mentors from across the region who now won’t have to travel to be a part of this ongoing program.  Balranald Council has just been granted Stronger Country Community Funding to develop their Creative Learning Centre adjacent to the Balranald Gallery. This platform will enable us to better support the Gallery and Council with their youth and creative learning programs.

As part of CoronaMoveOver we are helping local galleries, museums and arts organisations to set up their own websites. Volunteers from each of the organisations will be trained on how to manage and update their websites themselves and connect into a virtual creative network across the entire region.

Introducing Alicia Leggett, Executive Director of Orana Arts

This month we introduce Alicia Leggett, Executive Director at Orana Arts. Alicia recently celebrated her ninth year at Orana Arts and uses her role as a way to support art success across the region.

From the nature of arts and culture in the Orana region, to navigating changes due to Covid and creating projects that stand out from masses, Alicia shares some inspiration and insight into the world of Orana Arts.

Tell us about your role at Orana Arts. 

I just celebrated my 9th year as ED of Orana Arts.  I guess one of the interesting things about this is that it has been my only job since my family, and I moved to Australia.  Coming from years of working in the arts sector in NYC, I had a bit to learn about NSW & regional arts.  My first few years I observed, focused on gaps and got a handle on funding bodies and trends.

I see my position as a voice for the many who choose to live in regional NSW and that this choice shouldn’t be a hindrance for participating in the arts.  My role is to provide opportunity for success and to be the support agency for that success.

Can you describe the arts and culture scene in your region and how it may vary across each location?

We have an active region easily accessible with diverse experiences. One can visit Mudgee with amble stopovers to cellar doors and new regional gallery in the horizon.  Once in this region you can visit the many small towns that host several unique festivals, such as Clay Gulgong a biennial event for national and international ceramic artists  and Cementa , the biennial contemporary arts festival. Within these lovely towns there are wonderful and intriguing volunteer run museums.   Dubbo is home to the Western Plains Cultural Centre which never fails to host some of Australia’s sought after exhibitions.  The WPCC is the arts and culture connector for the region.  There is also plenty of music, with active groups of songwriters and musicians that are pushing the boundaries and delivery live music experience for audiences, as well as providing a platform for emerging musicians. The region has a plethora of visual artists, crafter, potters and multiple creative groups like film makers, theatre companies and arts councils that are the backbone to many of the creative arts & culture events that make this region a lovely place to live.  Without them existing out here would be quite boring.

 

Times are extremely uncertain and unchartered at the moment, with Covid-19 impacting individuals, organisations and industries all over the world.  How are artists and organisations in the Orana Arts region adapting to the ever-changing circumstances?

We have seen the mad rush to get online.  Many leading arts organisation and artists have moved to online platforms, but I am proceeding with caution. The internet is getting flooded by online content and if it is not done well and with purpose, it will be lost. It has been interesting to watch what is being delivered online and two exciting initiatives that I encourage people to follow are; SOMAD’s “Lust for Livestreaming” and Kim V Goldsmith’s Arte Parties. SOMAD’s live music streaming can be found here. I commend them for adding a PayPal account to their streaming to encourage people to donate and support musicians.  This is definitely one of those topics that needs to be in the forefront of these online events.
The next project is called Arte Parties, a clever and ambitious online festival organised and curated by digital media artists Kim V. Goldsmith.. It is just about to launch, and I’m very excited to see how it all comes together! It launches on the 30th April and it is a week-long curated program of music, literature, visual arts, digital arts events from Australia and various international locations.  Anyone can access the event and I strongly recommend many to follow it via @arteparties on Facebook & Instagram. The event itself starts on the 30th May and will run until 6th June.

 

Amidst challenging times, how do you think arts and creativity can provide people with support and inspiration?

This period of isolation has really demonstrated how reliant we are on entertainment and social connection. We have all gravitated to some form of creativity to keep ourselves sane.  I dusted off my keyboard, attacked the pile of books on my bedside table and like many, binge watched a few Netflix series. But I have been missing the physical connection to people. We’ve seen the innovative ways people are trying to connect with others online, from choreography and filming yourself taking out your bin, to catching Phantom of the Opera from the Royal Albert Hall.  It has been a natural response to consume and create on these online platforms.  The arts keep us connected; it provides stimulation in these crazy times.  I’ll also encourage everyone to be ready to be physically present for our arts when we do open again and remind everyone that without the arts we wouldn’t have survived isolation.

 

Despite cancellations and the postponing of programs and events, what are some of the key highlights/events/projects that Orana Arts are working on and looking forward to at the moment? 

We have been busy developing our new website and case studies from our previous projects.  This indoor period has also provided the time to investigate our relevance for online content and how to deliver it.  We are currently putting our micro funding event Soup Sessions online. Normally we hold these during the winter months with a bowl of soup at a local pub or café.  It’s a fun night for networking that allows audiences to hear about the many creative ideas’ brewing in their community.  The winning pitch can easily take up to $700 home on the night.  Our online version is asking for creative pitches via 2min videos with our Facebook audience voting.  We are putting in $500 for 4 events spread out in the coming months with an opportunity for our audience to add to these funds.  It will be interesting to see how this online event works out for us.

Introducing Mark Reedman, Executive Director of Arts Upper Hunter

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.

Introducing Cathy Farry, Executive Director at West Darling Arts: The broad horizons west of The Darling

This month we introduce the Executive Director for West Darling Arts, Cathy Farry.

Spanning across a region of more than 178,000km2, West Darling Arts is the largest Regional Arts Development area, but with the smallest population.

With many creatives living in small and isolated communities, Cathy spends a large portion of her time on the road, visiting the various cultural horizons that lay west of The Darling River.

From bluegrass and country music to Barkandji influenced art practice and Broken Hill’s renowned “Broken Heel” drag festival, the arts and culture across this region is as broad and diverse as the land it covers!

 

Tell us about your role at West Darling Arts?

My role at West Darling Arts as Executive Director involves a broad range- from working with artists, arts organisations, local councils and regional development, through to developing connections and networks in the region. We deliver projects, and as we are a very small team (1.5 of us), it can occasionally be very hands on – from delivering art and grant writing workshops through to picking up and delivering artworks across our region. I make sure that I visit each location regularly and am usually on the road every second week or so. We are located in the historic Town Hall Façade in Broken Hill and we are fortunate to have a gallery that we curate, where we display and sell works by artists of the region.

 

West Darling Arts covers a large area of land and communities – Does the arts and cultural scene, dynamics and demands change in each community across the region? If so, how and why?

WDA has the largest geographic area of all of the Regional Arts Development Organisations at around  178 000 km2 but also the smallest population of just 28 000 so there is a lot of space.

Each town and village in the Far West NSW has its own very distinct “personality”. Some of the smaller towns are very isolated, and are only accessible by dirt roads. Most people live in Broken Hill and Wentworth Shire which have good access to arts and culture. Broken Hill has a number of arts organisations, a beautiful regional art gallery and many small private artist run galleries and film making is very important to the town. Wentworth is home to number of professional artists and musicians and is very close to Mildura, just over the border in Victoria. Other towns such as Tibooburra, near the Queensland border and 300 km north of Broken Hill, has a number of public art works and an amazing pub with murals by artists Clifton Pugh, Rick Amor and Russell Drysdale. The fascinating town of White Cliffs, where most of the population live underground in “dugouts”, is an opal mining town hosts an annual music festival and a biennial arts festival which is a huge draw card for people to visit this community. Much of the far west is Barkandji Country, so there are many talented Aboriginal artists that span through communities such as Wilcannia, Menindee, Broken Hill, Dareton and Wentworth. Some of the smaller, isolated towns have very little access to the arts on a regular basis, and distance is always an often challenge that we face.

 

What are some of the key highlights, events and projects you are most looking forward to this year for West Darling Arts?

There’s a lot that happens throughout the year across WDA. Some of the major highlights include the colourful Broken Heel Festival – Broken Hill’s annual Drag festival, held the first weekend in September that celebrates the theatrical anniversary of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at her spiritual home; The Palace Hotel and Broken Hill. There is also The White Cliffs Music Festival in May – a great highlight of country and bluegrass music.

Last year WDA was focused on consultation with the arts and cultural communities of the year, so this year will see us develop a strategic plan that will help us to address the artistic and cultural needs of the region. Some of the projects that we are especially excited to deliver include taking some Opera into the more isolated schools of the region; working on public sculptures along the route that Captain Sturt took on his journey to inland; and making films with local Aboriginal artists that will document how and where they find materials that are used to create objects such as boomerangs, nulla nullas and coolamons.

It’s shaping up to be another great year and we can’t wait to share it with you all!

Southern Tablelands Arts announces new Executive Director, Rose Marin

Rose Marin will join the Regional Arts NSW network as the newly appointed Executive Director of Southern Tablelands Arts.

Rose brings with her rich experiences, skills and education to make her mark in every aspect of the work. Six years at the Grafton Regional Gallery saw her leading diverse public and education programs including community exhibitions at the gallery and across six library locations across the huge Clarence Valley. Two years running ROSE received Museums & Galleries Awards for Excellence.

The last seven years has seen ROSE continuing her career-long focus, in her own words, ‘to engage diverse audiences with cultural content’ at the National Gallery of Australia as a Program Producer where she was the lead programmer across the NGA PLAY interactive and immersive creative gallery between 2016 and 2019. NGA PLAY was developed over five installations into a space that attracted nearly 200,000 visitors.

Rose will commence the position in mid-March, and enjoy a hand over period with outgoing Executive Director, Susan Conroy to ensure continuity of current projects, funding applications and liaison with partners and stakeholders.

Introducing Kevin Williams, Executive Director Arts Mid North Coast: Leading The Creative Coast

This month we introduce the Executive Director for Arts Mid North Coast, Kevin Williams.

Passionate about embedding the importance of the arts in the thinking, policies and planning for the Mid North Coast region, Kevin is always generating innovative opportunities for the local community and its many visitors to experience the creative and cultural atmosphere of the region.

Over the past few months the Mid North Coast has been hit hard by the devastating bushfires; and Kevin and his team have and will continue to assist their creative community to recovery from the impacts.

 

Tell us about your role at Arts Mid North Coast?

Serving a population of nearly 315,000 over a region larger than countries such as Israel or Slovenia my role is more strategic, positioning the arts as an important sector in achieving economic, health and social outcomes. Our philosophy is to embed the importance of the arts  in the thinking, policies and plans of our six partner councils and other organisations, for it is only when there is that ongoing recognition of the value of the arts will real benefits  filter down to individual artists and arts organisations.  We have also prioritised our work to reflect the particular nature of our region. As a region driven and dependent on tourism, we have done a lot of work in showcasing the arts under the banner of Cultural Tourism and our brand Mid North Coast…the Creative Coast. As I often say, with over 11 million visitor nights spent in the region that’s 11 million mornings where a visitor might wake up and think I don’t want to go the beach today what else is there to do?  It is our role to ensure they and locals know what the arts offer.  Equally with the oldest population in Australia, nearly 35 percent aged over 60, we have embraced the concept of Creative Ageing. The goal of our new Creativity for All Regional Plan is to ensure older people in our region are encouraged to live active and healthy lives with improved physical and mental wellbeing by way of better access to and greater participation in creative activities and events.

 

Describe the arts and culture scene in your region?

The arts and cultural scene of the region is maturing but in a different way from the ageing of the population. While previously it was very much community based now there are growing pockets of entrepreneurial artists and creatives we are supporting and partnering with. These in turn give back to the community in so many ways. Two examples highlight this.  Coffs Harbour based Screenwave and its International Film Festival is now the largest such regional festival in Australia. However, through its Next Wave youth workshop program going into high schools it has expanded way beyond our region and even NSW. Its further offshoot Film Outreach Australia has now provided 60 film festival packages to regional and rural towns throughout Australia. Similarly, our support for Got Ya Back Productions, an emerging theatre production company saw them develop and tour last year a very contemporary piece, BANJO not only through our region but others and into Sydney. At the same time, it staged over 30 performances of 4 productions and up to three casts in two of our cities for its Junior productions. To me its greatest achievement was a performance where ALL front and back of house and technical roles were also undertaken by young people.

What I also find exciting is that art in our region is increasingly now being found as much in our cafes, bars, vineyards, rejuvenated community halls and even online as it is in traditional galleries and theatres.

 

The mid north coast has been devastated by the recent bushfires. How are spirits in your region and is there anything that AMNC is looking to do to support creative recovery?

Our region was hit very hard early in the bush fire season with many of the major fires occurring in November 2019, and many occurring in our smaller more remote hinterland communities. Unfortunately, many are still waiting for the most basics of recovery such as power and communications.  AMNC was therefore able to respond quickly at the end of last year and add Creative Recovery to our 2020 Work Plan. Our approach will be twofold: learning where we will best fit into the local disaster and emergency structures and services, and then identifying artists and training needs. Already through funds released through Regional Arts NSW for Fire Recovery programs we have learnt much from affected communities as we assisted in the development of their grant applications. We will undertake case studies of the successful projects as we go forward adding to knowledge gained from both the Black Friday Fires and Christchurch Earthquake recovery programs.

 

There’s a lot coming up in your region for 2020! What are some of the key highlights/events you are most looking forward to this year for Arts Mid North Coast?

Well the first thing to say is that no year ever goes to plan. We are not like say a gallery that has a plan of exhibitions to put on. We have an approved Work Plan, but as the fires have shown our role is also to respond to needs and opportunities as they arise. Agility is a key requirement for all RADOs.  We have already this year delivered our More than A Beach summer holidays showcase and have just kicked off this week our 4th Mid North Coast Creative Ageing Festival. Also, this month our pilot Musicians in Hospitals program will begin at Coffs Harbour Hospital. In April we will shine a light on the region’s heritage and museums through our SHINE Festival. We are planning a guide of all our halls and venues for Touring performers and a new Street Art Guide. We are working to find funds to develop a Screen Industry Plan and for a storytelling project for youth involving, writing, theatre, dance and film. Of course, it looks like we will also finally get to develop our next 3 Year Business Plan and hence also a new MOU with our Council partners. With local government elections later this year we may have a number of new Board members, so a review of the Board is also on the cards.

Alyce Fisher - A wealth of opportunities on the Border

Alyce Fisher is the Executive Director of Murray Arts, based in Albury-Wodonga.

Alyce Fisher’s passion for dramatic arts led her to study Theatre Arts at Swinburne University, graduating in 2007 and then onto launch her own small company Theatre on Toast. Her company specialised in touring dynamic and relevant Theatre & Education Productions to Regional Victoria & NSW from 2008 – 2013. Alyce is incredibly passionate about Regional Arts & Cultural Development and is no stranger to the Regional Arts Network as she was the Regional Arts Development Officer for South West Arts, based in Deniliquin, from 2009 – 2013 and re-joined the network in January 2017, after a career break travelling, as the Executive Director for Murray Arts, based in Albury-Wodonga.

Tell us about your role at Murray Arts?

No one day is the same when it comes to life as an Executive Director of a Regional Arts Development Organisation (RADO). One day you are developing artist briefs for a significant sculpture commission and the next judging the annual interschool TheatreSports competition. Patience, flexibility and the ability to juggle multiple tasks is the key to being able to get through each day. There is no course you can study which will prepare you for this job, it is so diverse and challenging. There’s not many of us who go on to manage two different RADO’s in the RANSW network, but I loved it so much the first time around that the opportunity to once again be a part of the network was too good to resist.

Describe the arts and culture scene in your region?

The Murray Arts region boasts strong professional arts and cultural practice and a high proportion of resident creatives. Recently, Albury Wodonga was recognised as 1 of the 20 Creative Industry hotspots in regional Australia. There is a strong performance culture due to national arts organisations Flying Fruit Fly Circus, HotHouse Theatre & Projection Dance. There are a multitude of festivals and opportunities for community engagement, as well as a very large number of museums due to the high historical significance of the region. In addition, there is a strong visual arts sector lead by the redevelopment of Albury Regional Art Gallery, now MAMA (Murray Art Museum Albury) alongside a number of private and public galleries around the region. We truly are spoilt for choice on the Border and have hungry audiences who demand high quality and diverse experiences.

 

Can you tell us about burraja gallery and the important role it plays in the community?

burraja gallery is the only dedicated local Aboriginal art gallery in the Border North East and is in the shopfront of the Murray Arts office. We aim to highlight the diversity of local, contemporary, Aboriginal arts practise and showcase artwork from first nation artists that live, work & connect with our footprint.

Our footprint borders the Indigenous nations of Dhuduroha, Yaithmathang, Bangarang, Wiradjuri, Yorta Yorta & Wavaroo and encompasses the local government areas of AlburyCity, Greater Hume, Federation, City of Wodonga, Indigo & Towong.

I feel very privileged to be part of the team that champions burraja gallery, it is a joy to walk into the space every day and be surrounded by the work of local first nation story-tellers; another big perk is that you get first dibs when new work comes in, I am really growing my personal collection.

What are some of the key highlights on the 2020 calendar for Murray Arts?

2020 will again see Murray Arts focus on professional development and capacity building. We will be delivering School Drama in partnership with Sydney Theatre Company & HotHouse, Smart Arts professional development workshops in partnership with City of Wodonga, Kinder Kulture & Connect & Weave in partnership with our local Aboriginal Artist Network. We’ll also be working with HotHouse & AlburyCity to relaunch what was known as the A Month in the Country artist in residence program. burraja gallery will be welcoming a new Curator to deliver its annual exhibition program and continue its amazing community outreach initiatives. Our other major focus is communications and maintaining our reputation as the go to organisation for all enquires to do with local regional arts development via our various platforms.

Also in 2020, thanks to funding from the NSW Regional Arts Fund, LIMELIGHT: Art – Science – Light will return in October after immense public demand. After a stellar pilot event in 2018 and again taking advantage of the natural beauty & low light of the Gateway Village Amphitheatre, talented local multimedia artists, sculptors & performers will be engaged to inspire audiences with an immersive world of Light & Sound installations. Imaginations will be ignited, as artists transform the darkness and enlighten the audience’s world. LIMELIGHT is truly an all ages event that will feature as a happening not to be missed on the Border, on the evenings of Friday 2 & Saturday 3 October 2020.

 

Read more about Murray Arts

Scott Howie - the Riverina's vibrant creative sector

Scott Howie is the Executive Director of Eastern Riverina Arts and will soon take on the role of Artistic Director over a 12 month period, developing the Artstate Wagga Wagga cultural program. Scott brings a wealth of experience to his position, having worked with the arts sector in the Eastern Riverina his entire career as well as being a highly talented artist himself.

Tell us about your role at Eastern Riverina Arts

I’m the Executive Director at Eastern Riverina Arts … for a couple more weeks. Then I switch to a new role in Eastern Riverina Arts, as its Creative Producer for the next twelve months.  Not only will I be developing the Artstate cultural program but also producing and managing some of our projects that will be showcased there.

The role of the Executive Director is truly one of the most interesting, challenging, fun, odd, inspiring I have ever taken on. No two days are ever the same. Whether it is developing region-wide projects, having a chat with a young emerging artist, organising workshops, writing funding applications. I spend a lot of time on the road meeting with Councils, artists and volunteers from arts and cultural organisations. I spend a lot of my time at desk reporting and planning.

It’s a great job and I have been in the role nearly nine years. The thing I love most about the role is being able to watch artists, groups and projects grow and develop over the years and knowing that a little intervention by Eastern Riverina Arts might have set them on an amazing creative trajectory.

Describe the arts and culture scene in your region

From the edges of the Snowy Mountains, through the canola fields of the Riverina, to the wide open plains of central NSW, Eastern Riverina Arts supports arts and cultural development across our region from our base in Wagga Wagga.

The creative sector is really vibrant and buzzing in the Riverina at all levels from grass-roots participation through to some amazing creative industries. The diversity of the sector is huge, great visual artists, a growing live original music scene, some amazing festivals and internationally recognised arts organisations. Even the last Australian piano manufacturer is in our region. Over the last few years the region has been emerging as a key centre for innovative arts & disability practice. There is also been some really amazing public art projects and place-based and site-specific work.

We have cultural infrastructure across the region and some committed Councils with a very strong understanding of the value of the arts in making a place a great place to live.

What are some of the key opportunities and challenges for the arts in the Eastern Riverina? 

I love the idea of our region developing as a centre of excellence in culturally and linguistically diverse arts practise. We have an amazing diverse population from hundreds of countries. Some of the work coming out of the young people is mind-blowing.

Watching the reclamation of language by the Wiradjuri people is inspiring and I can’t wait to see how this will influence the work of Aboriginal artists.

The biggest challenge is how to grow the creative workforce in the region, ensuring opportunities for graduates from the University and TAFE to stay here and develop their practice and careers. Second to that is how to do we ensure authentic regional voices in the programming of our cultural infrastructure. We need to invest in our people, our artists as much as our buildings.

Wagga Wagga has recently been announced as the next host city for Artstate, with you taking on the role of Artistic Director. What can we expect from Artstate Wagga Wagga 2020?

The unexpected. I am keen to find ways in which we can really showcase the next wave of artists coming through, in all their boldness. I want new fresh voices sitting alongside the work of our established practitioners. I want to showcase our international and national collaborations and celebrate arts at the localest of local levels. And as Wagga Wagga now accepts the Wiradjuri meaning of its name as ‘place of celebration, dance’ there will be plenty of opportunities to cut a rug!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie-Lea Trindall - creativity shines in the far west

Jamie-Lea Trindall is the Executive Director of Outback Arts.

Born in Coonamble NSW, Jamie-Lea completed her HSC at Coonamble High School and went on to undertake her Bachelor of Art Education College of Fine Arts UNSW, with a major in Sculpture and a minor in Photography, immersing herself in Art Education, Aboriginal history and the research roles of arts workers. In 2009 Jamie-Lea returned to her hometown to take on the role of Executive Director for Outback Arts. 

Her own art works are inspired by her family’s aboriginal story, tracing knowledge lost within the family through traditional weaving techniques using natural and contemporary materials.

Jamie-Lea’s work has been exhibited as part of String theory: Focus on contemporary Australian art 2013 which brought together over 30 Aboriginal artists and artist groups from across the country at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney and also in Country: Connective understanding: a focus through contemporary Aboriginal art a Collateral event at 56th Venice Biennale 2015. Her passion towards community practice has played an integral role in her own artistic achievements in the role of Outback Arts Executive Director.

 

Tell us about your role at Outback Arts?

I am the Executive Director of Outback Arts and Curator at the new Outback Arts Creative Arts Centre in Coonamble. Outback Arts is the Regional Arts Development Organisation for the Far Western region which covers 164,000 km² with a population of 26,000 people across seven local government areas.

As the Executive Director in such a remote part of the state, my role is extremely varied from one day to the next. With our core business to build cultural capacity and creative communities, I am often found planning programs from my desk in Coonamble or delivering programs and activities across the region.

How does arts and cultural practice in your region differ to other regions?

I feel like the arts in our region shines brighter than in others, although I am perhaps a little biased! The creativity in our region constantly amazes and inspires me. People are so resilient and innovative. There is definitely a concentration on visual arts and music, with the landscape and country lifestyle lending itself freely to the creative way of life, and it’s a great base for people of the creative side hustle economy.

You’ve recently celebrated the opening of the Creative Arts Centre in Coonamble. Can you tell us about the Centre?

Our Creative Arts Centre is a fabulous space housing our regional office, a huge shopfront full of regionally made art, two gallery spaces, meeting rooms, workshop space and storage for our collections. We were successfully granted Arts and Cultural Infrastructure funding from the NSW Government to purchase and redevelop the site.

We have been operating in the space for 12 months and in that time, our exhibitions change over every six weeks, regular community activities are held in the building, with visitors and sales increasing each month.

The Centre has provided our region with something incredible that we had desperately needed and that is a professional gallery space for our regional artists to exhibit in and be directly supported by in their arts career.

What are some of the key upcoming events on the calendar for Outback Arts?

We have just recently launched our Living Arts & Culture publication (and exhibition). We are very excited to be bringing the publication with our artists and their work to the South East Aboriginal Arts Market at Carriageworks on the 9th and 10th November 2019. The exhibition is currently touring NSW.

As part of this project we are relaunching the Living Arts & Culture website with a fresh approach to presenting our regions most celebrated Aboriginal artists and knowledge holders, that are living vibrant and culturally rich lives in this regional part of NSW.

We are also in the process changing over our exhibitions from the Annual Outback Archies, an amazing exhibition of artwork from across the far west to the next event; Art4Ag a photography exhibition celebrated with a 3 course meal for 80 people in the gallery on the 21st November which is National Agriculture Day, in partnership with the local CWA and Landcare.

 

Andrew Gray - the vibrant art and culture scene in the South East

Tell us about your role at South East Arts?

I am the Executive Director of South East Arts, the regional arts development organisation covering Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro councils. As with all the EDs in the regional arts network across NSW, it’s a diverse and demanding role supporting arts and cultural development. Some weeks I’m out and about in the region running networking events, delivering workshops or attending many and varied meetings and events. Other weeks are focused on desk-bound work, applying for funding, submitting acquittals, reporting to councils, board members and other stakeholders. Always there are individual artists and arts organisations seeking advice and assistance, where we aim to build capacity and skills.

Describe the arts and culture scene in the South East and how it differs from other regional areas?

It is an amazingly diverse geographical area, where I can go from the ocean to the snow in a little over 2 hours drive. For a NSW coastal area, we have a comparatively small population, with just over 90,000 people across the region. Given that, it’s an incredibly active arts and cultural scene with high levels of participation and some unique creative elements in visual and performing arts. Music and sculpture festivals are an annual highlight across the region, while the visual arts is very strong with many professional practitioners supported by active public and community galleries. Live music is a regular feature and contemporary music hubs such as Candelo continue to support nationally and internationally recognised musicians.

What are some of the key highlights on the calendar for South East Arts?

This year we presented our fourth annual Grow the Music concert and music residency at Wallaga Lake Koori Village, which over the years has supported young Indigenous talent. In November our partnership with Twofold Aboriginal Corporation will help to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a community concert and launch of a short documentary. We always look forward to performances by Fling Physical Theatre presenting youth contemporary dance and this year they have partnered with the Four Winds (Bermagui) and Form (Western Sydney) for the youth arts festival in November. Another late year highlight is the Australian National Busking Championships in Cooma, which now has 6 lead-up competitions during the year in regional towns in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

You’ve recently announced that the Giiyong Festival will return in 2020. Can you tell us about the Festival and its significance in terms of the local arts and culture scene?

Giiyong Festival is the only Aboriginal arts and cultural festival in the south-east of NSW. The first festival in 2018 was a hugely successful event and featured over 100 Aboriginal musicians, dancers, singers, writers and presenters, ranging from professional acts to community groups. Headline acts including Baker Boy, Benny Walker and No Fixed Address were joined by many of the region’s local creative talent. This free, family-friendly, alcohol free event welcomed 6000 people, which included many Aboriginal festival goers. Giiyong Festival provides an important platform for our Aboriginal community locally and nationally to showcase their culture and have their voices heard and respected. The festival highlights the considerable growth in Aboriginal cultural expression in the region in recent years.

Caroline Downer - diverse creative landscapes of the North West

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Wood - creative landscapes of the Northern Rivers

First in a series featuring our regional leaders. Introducing Peter Wood, Executive Director Arts Northern Rivers.

Peter Wood has over 25 years’ experience in the arts and creative industries. He has worked in senior marketing and communication roles for Sydney Opera House, Company B Belvoir, Bell Shakespeare Company and Historic Houses Trust NSW.

What are your responsibilities at Arts Northern Rivers?
We are the peak body and support agency for creative individuals and organisation in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Part of a state-wide network of 14 regional arts boards, we provide strategic direction for sustainable arts and cultural development for our vibrant region.

What is the art culture scene like in the Northern Rivers?
Huge! I view it as a huge opportunity and a huge challenge. There is an influential creative drift from the metropolitan areas up to the Northern Rivers which attracts a lot of creatives from around the country.

What have you noticed the main difference between the arts industry and culture in the country vs the city?
The key difference between metropolitan and regional areas is the access to resources. This in turn drives the creativity because you need to be creative about the limited resources that you do have – this leads to developing strong partnerships. On that urban/ city level, I didn’t experience that level of partnership; it’s more competitive in the metro areas as opposed to genuine partnership and support process for projects within the regional areas.

What are the biggest events within the calendar year for the Arts Northern Rivers?
We’ve just been working on the Art on Bundjalung Markets, a free family event presenting a unique opportunity to purchase authentic Indigenous artwork and to meet the makers. It was a great success with 3,000 people through on the day the stallholders and artists generated over $28,000 worth of sales.

We’re currently working on relaunching a digital online platform called ‘Northern Rivers Creative’, targeting creative industries across the Northern Rivers. This will be a directory site and supported with skills and development opportunities for those participating on the site. This will be segmented into various creative industry types.

Image: Kate Holmes

Elizabeth W. Scott Appointed to Create NSW Executive Director, Investment and Engagement

Elizabeth W. Scott, a global arts and culture policy specialist with over 25 years’ experience advising cultural organisations across the USA, UK and Australia, has been appointed as Executive Director, Create Investment and Engagement, replacing Michael Brealey who resigned in March.
 
Ms Scott currently serves as Board Treasurer of the U.S. artists’ peak body, Fractured Atlas, and as an International Councillor for the UK peak body, Creative Industries Federation.
 
Ms Scott joins Create NSW from New York City, where she served as Chief Media & Digital Officer at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, counselled leading arts and cultural organisations and digital start-ups as an industry advisor, and managed Major League Baseball’s film and television production and licensing businesses.
 
An international thought leader on contemporary issues facing the cultural sector, she has been a featured speaker at Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, MIT, the University of Chicago, each of the peak body conferences of the U.S. theatre, orchestra and dance industries, and the IMZ International Music + Media Conference in Berlin. She is also an accomplished performing artist who freelances as a conductor with opera companies, choruses and festivals.
 
Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “I am thrilled that Ms Scott, an international arts and entertainment leader with considerable expertise across arts, screen and culture, will be joining Create Investment and Engagement as Executive Director.”
 
“Ms Scott brings a breadth of experience across the non-profit and commercial arts and entertainment industries, which I know will enable her to make a significant contribution to growing and promoting a thriving, diverse, accessible, and inclusive arts and cultural environment across the State,” said Minister Harwin.
 
Elizabeth Scott said, “New South Wales has one of the most diverse arts and cultural sectors in the world and I am honoured to join Create Investment and Engagement to foster the sector’s vibrancy and resilience in communities across the State.”
 
Ms Scott will commence as Executive Director, Create Investment and Engagement, on Wednesday 1 August 2018.