New arts program coming to Lismore

Narelle Johnson
5 September 2017
Tullara performing at the Arstate Lismore launch. Credit: Supplied.
Tullara performing at the Arstate Lismore launch. Credit: Supplied.

Lismore will welcome around 200 arts industry delegates over four days in November and December when it hosts the inaugural Artstate NSW program.

Artstate is a four-year program which aims to build on conversations, partnerships and opportunities for regional artists and art organisations.

Each year Artstate will move to a different regional location in order to put discussions in a "new landscape and attempting to uncover the artistic secrets of each region", according to organisers Regional Arts NSW. 

The 2017 event in Lismore includes a line-up of speakers alongside a multi-genre arts program showcasing a range of arts from the North Coast region.

Artstate 2017 have a focus on aboriginal artists and performers, as the event organisers see aboriginal arts, artists and leaders as an integral part of the regional arts landscape. 

The opening of Artstate Lismore will also coincide with the opening of the new Lismore Regional Gallery building and an exhibition.

Chair of Regional Arts NSW Stephen Champion said Artstate provides regional artists with unprecedented exposure to reviewers and their urban counterparts.

“Artstate is set to change this by placing the spotlight on a different regional hub each year for the next four years,” Champion said.

“Artstate will also demonstrate that regional NSW is at the epicentre of national and international debate and discourse about the vital relationship of the arts to communities."

Speakers Program

The event will commence with two days of keynote speakers and panels exploring the themes of partnership and practice.

The first day will examine the theme of creative practice with an opening keynote by British-Indian composer and virtuoso player of the sarod Soumik Datta.

This will be followed by a panel of artists from the Northern Rivers region including Artistic Director of Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) Julian Louis, filmaker Cate McQuillen and musician and jazz singer, Leigh Carriage.

The second morning session will discuss Aboriginal creative practices following a keynote by Bundjalung artist and festival director Rhoda Roberts.

Saturday will look at the creative partnerships developed around regional festivals with a keynote from the director of the Norway international indigenous arts and culture festival, Riddu Riddu FestivalaKaroline Trollvik.

Arts Program

Alongside the speakers will be an arts program presenting several new works across dance, theatre, music, visual arts and experimental arts.

The Brunswick Picture House are taking their new show Cheeky Cabaret on the road for the first time to perform as part of Artstate. 

The Regional Youth Orchestra NSW, which features students from regional conservatoriums, will perform a free public concert.

Local theatre company, NORPA will premier their new production Djurra, which tells the story of Mamoonh, a Bundjalung revolutionary engaged in war at the centre of the earth where the magic of ancient cultures are pitted against the subterfuge of the west.

Arstate will see NORPA present a premiere of their production Djurra

NORPA will premiere their new production Djurra. Credit: Patrick Healey/NORPA

NORPA general manager Patrick Healey is excited by the opportunities Artstate provides for local artists.

“Regional artists' produce some of Australia's most vibrant and exhilarating new work, often inspired by place, history and people,” Healey said.

“That regional stories are of artistic merit is beyond doubt, but it is also important that regional stories are given the opportunity to contribute to the national cannon and narrative.”

Healey said as a result of Lismore hosting Artstate, artists from around the Australia and the world are more likely to tour in the Northern Rivers in the future.

“Artstate will showcase the appetite regional audiences have for quality work across multiple art forms, but the bigger prize is showcasing regional works to tour,” Healey said. 

“There remains in Australia an old fashioned view that regional people are recipients of culture through touring, especially major metropolitan work, to the regions,” He said.

“There is yet to be serious mechanisms put in place that allow regional works to tour.”

Artstate will run from November 30 to the December 3 2017. For more information about Artstate visit: