If These Halls Could Talk
The Northern Rivers is a region of villages, most with a hall that lay at their heart. Some sit proud on hills, some tilted with age but all are places of stories and keepers of secrets. If These Halls Could Talk was a multi-arts project celebrating these halls and the role they play in communities. The project invited people to nominate their local hall for a chance to be involved. Seven halls from across the Northern Rivers were selected to have a renowned creative team collaborate with their community to create a site-specific work inspired by the unique narrative of their hall.
The two year project commenced in 2015, the result of two successful funding applications from Arts NSW (Regional Partnerships) and the Federal Government’s Regional Arts Fund (RAF). The project also attracted over $50,000 of in-kind support from project partners to help deliver this unique place-making project for the region.
If These Halls Could Talk captured the imaginations of audiences and media alike, with coverage of the project achieved across local, state and national media outlets. ABC North Coast came on board as a media partner, which included the recording and transmission of oral histories associated with each hall via the ABC Open program. The project was aired on ABC TV’s The Mix
in February 2017.
The final events took place between September and December 2016 and attracted sell-out crowds and national publicity. The artists and creative teams were:
- Internationally acclaimed projection artist Craig Walsh – The Channon Hall;
- Southern Cross University Associate Professor and media artist Dr Grayson Cooke – Bonalbo & District Memorial Hall;
- Local Yaegl artist, Frances Belle Parker – Eatonsville Hall;
- NORPA’s new work Dreamland produced at Eureka Hall;
- Local youth arts company Spaghetti Circus in collaboration with Joey Ruigrok van der Werven and Roundabout Theatre – Broadwater Rileys Hill Hall;
- Bangalow-based film company H.W. Collective – Meerschaum Vale Hall;
- And Tumbulgum Hall was paired with one of Australia’s major performing arts companies, Opera Queensland.
The final phase took place in early 2017, which included a photographic exhibition program showcasing the final events of the project in each of the regional galleries of the Northern Rivers.
Cultural and Economic Impacts
- Artistic excellence
- The commissioning of new works that spoke to the histories of local communities
- Attracted significant community engagement and participation
- Renewed interest in local history and halls, with local hall committees reporting an increase in bookings
- National and international interest in replicating the If These Halls Could Talk project and model in other communities
- New partnerships with regional galleries, creative organisations, artists, producers and media
- The preservation and reinterpretation of local stories and histories has seen an outpouring of engagement and community pride
- Renewed community interest in local history and local halls
- Public show and tell sessions saw ex-community members return, and the exchange of local histories
For more information visit Arts Northern Rivers.