Artstate was a four-year project by Regional Arts NSW that shone a light on arts excellence in regional NSW and explores exciting possibilities for arts and cultural development across the state. The project was completed in 2020.

Held over four-days, Artstate was a multi-faceted and hybrid arts festival and conference tailored to address annual themes and feature arts and cultural activity that is reflective of the local Indigenous cultural and hosting region.




Image: Wollundry Lagoon, Artstate Wagga Wagga by Jackie Cooper.

The fourth and final Artstate took place in Wagga Wagga and was delivered in partnership with Reginal Arts Development Organisation, Eastern Riverina Arts and Wagga Wagga City Council.

This celebration of the excellence in art practice in regional NSW was far from what we had envisaged for the final iteration of the four year, hybrid arts event, with much of Artstate having to be recreated to abide with COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. In adapting to the COVID climate, Artstate Wagga Wagga was delivered both in person and online, so delegates unable to attend in person were able to join the conversation and celebrate the arts from afar via a livestream.

A global health pandemic was not going to stop the show! Artstate Wagga Wagga’s Artistic Director Scott Howie rose to the challenge to ensure that we would still deliver a fantastic showcase of the culture and creativity of the Riverina in 2020. The arts program kicked off on Thursday 5 November with the Opening Ceremony, Wagga Wagga: To Dance, To Celebrate which was created with local Senior Wiradjuri Elders and directed by Jonathon Jones. Over the next four days, the arts program would feature an array of live musical and theatrical performances and visual arts exhibitions including classical piano renditions, cabaret, poetry, large outdoor installations and more!

This year’s speaker’s program was built around the themes, “Walking Together” and “Shaping Tomorrow.” The keynote addresses were presented by Associate Professor Faye McMillan; Award-winning writer, Wongaiibon woman, wheelchair user Gayle Kennedy; visual artist Dr. Erica Seccombe; and Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company Rafael Bonachela. The keynote addresses were supported by a series of insightful panellist discussions where artists and arts workers from all over NSW shared their experiences and take on the themes.

Although Artstate Wagga Wagga was very differently from previous Artstates, it was nothing short of an exceptional showcase of the creativity, arts and cultural practice that takes place in regional NSW and an insightful and inspiring continuation of conversations from the past four years. The Artstate team are proud to have delivered Artstate as a fully COVID-safe event, and thank everyone for their involvement, attendance, and support to not only help us do so, but to make the final Artstate a great wrap up to a brilliant four years.







Erica Seccombe – unedited transcript

Faye McMillan – unedited transcript

Gayle Kennedy – unedited transcript



More information on 8 Doors Exhibition

Go here to find out more about the work of the Parramatta Artist’s Studio and Wagga Wagga Artist, James Farley



Image: “YAAMA”, Artstate Tamworth Opening Ceremony

Partnering with Regional Arts Development Organisation, Arts North West, to coordinate the event, Artstate Tamworth was four exciting days of inspiring art and in-depth conversation about issues that face the arts industry and regional communities more broadly.

The highly anticipated speaker’s program was held during Artstate Tamworth on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 November. Over the two days, delegates and industry leaders came together to discuss the themes, “On Country – In Country” and “Arts in the Age of Uncertainty”.

The keynote speakers for the Artstate Tamworth speakers program included CEO of the Australian Council for the Arts, Adrian Collette AM; Water and Environmental Scientist and Kamilaroi man, Brad Moggridge; Executive Director for WildWorks theatre company from the UK, Emma Hogg; and Artist, Storyteller and indigenous Canadian man, Patrick Shannon.

These keynotes were joined on the speaker’s stage by an array of panellists who will each shared their take on how artists remain connected to their land and culture whilst weathering the constant changes of the industry.

Complementary to the speaker’s program was the arts festival that commenced with the Artstate Tamworth Opening Ceremony on Thursday 31 October. The Opening Ceremony was held in Tamworth’s Bicentennial Park and featured a strong Kamilaroi presence, attributed to Tamworth’s heritage as the first city to have electric street lights as large light installations were projected amongst the trees, and many theatrical and music productions – including a guest appearance from Tamworth-born country music icon, Felicity Urquhart.

Reko Rennie, The Regional Youth Orchestra and Roger Knox are amongst the artists involved in the free arts program along with Aboriginal weaving projects, a range of exhibitions, theatrical productions and more.








    Artstate Tamworth Dinner

    Audio Transcriptions

    Friday Plenary Introduction

    Friday Plenary Keynote 1

    Friday Plenary Keynote 2

    Friday Plenary Panel 1

    Friday Plenary Panel 2

    Saturday Keynote 3

    Saturday Keynote 4

    Saturday Plenary Panel 3

    Saturday Plenary Panel 4



    2018 saw Artstate move to Bathurst, located in NSW’s Central West. Festivities kicked off with an opening ceremony in Kings Parade on Thursday 1 November, before the Speakers Program commenced on Friday 2 November at the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre.

    The first day of the Speakers Program focused on the theme of Sense of Place, with an opening keynote by acclaimed artist Jonathan Jones called Nginha Ngurambang Marunbunmilgirridyu: I Love This Country. This keynote was followed by the panel First Nations Artists: Responding to Place, moderated by Sharni Jones (Manager of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Collection, Australian Museum), and featuring Aleshia Lonsdale (Artist & Aboriginal Arts Development Officer, Arts Outwest), Amala Groom (Artist), and Ian RT Colless (Dancer and Choreographer). The second keynote for the day was delivered by Frith Walker (Placemaker for Wynyard Quarter, Waterfront Auckland), entitled Sense of Place: Beyond the Jargon and into the Need. This was followed by a panel of Regional Arts Development Organisation Executive Directors; Tracey Callinan (Arts Outwest), Peter Wood (Arts Northern Rivers), Caroline Downer (Arts North West) and Kerry-Anne Jones (South West Arts).

    Saturday 3 November’s theme was Robust Regions, and the day was opened by a keynote on creative hotspots in regional Australia by Jack Archer (CEO, Regional Australia Institute). This was followed by a panel, Country Towns: Building an Economy Around Arts & Culture moderated by Micaela Hambrett (Features Reporter, ABC Central West), Rich Evans (Chief Reactivation Officer, The Foundations, Portland) and Stephen Birrell (Owner, Tremain’s Mill). Following a short morning tea break, delegates returned to hear from the final keynote speaker, Kresanna Aigner (Director, Findhorn Bay Arts, Scotland, UK) on Making Creative Things Happen. The final morning panel, In the Regions: Making an Artistic Living, was moderated by Soseh Yekanians (Senior Lecturer in Theatre/Media, Charles Sturt University), and featured Alison Plevey (Associate Director and Performer, Lingua Franca), James T. Farley (Artist & Lecturer in Photography, Charles Sturt University) and Henry Simmons (Owner/Director, Man On The Moon Media).

    Afternoons offered a diversity of play readings, panels and presentations. The Artstate Dinner was held on Saturday evening where Tamworth was announced as the regional host city for 2019 by the Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Don Harwin MLC.





    Friday 2 November: Sense of Place

    Nginha Ngurambang Marunbunmilgirridyu: I Love This Country
    Jonathan Jones, Artist

    First Nations Artists: Responding to Place
    Amala Groom, Aleisha Lonsdale, Ian RT Colless, moderated by Sharni Jones

    Sense of Place: Beyond the Jargon and into the Need
    Frith Walker, Placemaker for Wynyard Quarter, Waterfront Auckland (Panuku Development), NZ

    Place and Practice in Regional Arts Development
    Caroline Downer, Peter Wood, Kerry-Anne Jones, moderated by Tracey Callinan

    Saturday 3 November: Robust Regions

    Hotspots of Creative Employment: Regional Development Through Creative Industries
    Jack Archer, CEO, Regional Australia Institute

    Country Towns: Building an Economy Around Arts & Culture
    Stephen Birrell and Rich Evans, moderated by Micaela Hambrett

    Making Creative Things Happen
    Kresanna Aigner, Director, Findhorn Bay Arts, Scotland, UK

    In the Regions: Making an Artistic Living
    Alison Plevey, James T. Farley and Henry Simmons, moderated by Soseh Yekanians











    2017 saw the inaugural Arstate take place in Lismore, located in the far north eastern pocket of NSW. Following the Artstate opening ceremony in the Lismore Quadrangle on Thursday 30 November and the commencement of the arts program, Friday 1 December saw the beginning of Artstate Lismore’s two day speakers program. The morning sessions were held in the home of NORPA, Lismore City Hall.

    The first day examined the theme of Creative Practice, with an opening keynote by internationally acclaimed saroud virtuoso, Soumik Datta from the UK. (He also performed a recital showcasing his practice in the Studio at 6.30pm on Friday evening). This was followed by a panel of artists from the region including Julian Louis, Artistic Director of NORPA, filmmaker Cate McQuillen and musician and jazz singer, Leigh Carriage. The second morning session discussed Aboriginal creative practice following a keynote by Bundjalung artist and festival director, Rhoda Roberts AO.

    Saturday 2 December looked at the Creative Partnerships developed around regional festivals with a keynote from Karoline Trollvik, director of the Riddu Riddu festival in the far north of Norway, an event that focuses on the local First Nations people, the Sami, and draws attendees from around the world. The following panel examined regional festivals with speakers including Chris Spencer, General Manager, Saltwater Freshwater Festival, Edwina Johnson, Byron Writers Festival and Jessica Ducrou from Splendour in the Grass. Furthering the conversation around partnerships, Arts Northern Rivers ED, Peter Wood lead a panel of leaders from NSW Regional Arts Development Organisations interrogating arts-led cross-sector partnerships that deliver innovative projects for their different communities.

    Afternoons offered a diversity of masterclasses, panels and presentations including four masterclasses by Screenworks, presentations by the Live Music Office and a Create NSW panel.

    The Artstate Dinner was held on Saturday evening where Bathurst was announced as the regional host city for 2018.








    Friday 2 November

    Tuning 2 You: Lost Musicians of India
    Soumik Datta


    Regional Creative Practice
    Julian Louis, Cate McQuillen, Leigh Carriage, moderated by Stephen Champion


    Aboriginal Creative Practice: A cultural narrative, but why do I also have to be the consultant?
    Rhoda Roberts AO


    First Nations Creatives
    Kirk Page, Karla Dickens, Rhoda Roberts AO, moderated by Sharni Jones


    Saturday 2 December: Creative Partnerships

    Riddu Riđđu: The Little Storm on the Coast
    Karoline Trollvik


    The Art of Festivals
    Chris Spencer, Jessica Ducrou, Edwina Johnson, moderated by Wesley Enoch


    Connecting Schools and the Arts Community
    Nick Mahmat


    Cross–sector Partnerships in Regional NSW
    Andrew Gray, Jamie-Lea Hodges, Tracey Callinan, Scott Howie, moderated by Peter Wood