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.


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