Speakers Program Themes

Image: Keynote Speaker Emma Hogg Executive Director of Wild Works in the UK, on stage at Artstate Tamworth 2019. Photo by Chasing Summer Photography

Walking Together and Shaping Tomorrow

In its final iteration Artstate moves to the Riverina city of Wagga Wagga 5 to 8 November, 2020. The four year project presented by Regional Arts NSW in partnership with local Regional Arts Development Organisations has delivered an inspirational two day speakers program surrounded by an exciting multi-genre arts festival celebrating the best of the region. Underpinning each event has been a commitment to feature First Nations speakers as well as a strong presence in the arts program. This year, due to the uncertainty of international travel, the speakers’ committee have agreed that all speakers will be from within Australia.

The speakers’ programs themes have been developed based on feedback from the previous event including reference to the rapporteurs’ reports and in consultation with the local Elders.

The themes for Artstate Wagga Wagga come under the overarching principle of Yindyamarra, sending a clear message that Artstate is meeting on Wiradjuri land as a first point of reference. In its broadest meaning, Yindyamarra, refers to walking, listening and living respectfully on the land. It is a word at the heart of Wiradjuri culture, that will set the tone for all Artstate participants (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) as they engage with each other and with Wiradjuri land and water.

Since leaving Tamworth last November, the world has changed dramatically. In Tamworth the region was severely impacted by drought and the beginning of the summer of fires. We have endured drought, fire, smoke, dust storms and now the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic that severely restricted movement, closed down all public gatherings and has had incredible ramifications across the entire economy and particularly the arts and cultural sector. By November we are all looking forward to coming together to celebrate through the arts and conversations a path to recovery and an exciting, if altered, future.

This year’s themes are Walking Together on day one and Shaping Tomorrow on day two.

Walking Together is inspired by the concept of Yindyamarra and this broad theme reflects lessons to be learnt by listening and engaging with the first Australians to develop an understanding of arts, culture and language and where traditional practices should be included in all future thinking about water and land management in regional NSW. This theme includes all the diverse people and cultures that now live on this land and how we can build a better place for everyone.

Shaping Tomorrow builds on the previous day’s conversations. If we walk together we can achieve better outcomes for all. This is a moment in time and an opportunity, after all the disasters regional NSW has endured, to ponder what a new world might look like across all aspects of society and how the arts and cultural sector can lead and reflect this new world. Less global and more local? New ways of engagement using technology that is kinder to the planet? The value of connected communities?

This theme will be illustrated in the public closing event for the four year Artstate project, an arts project using light and reflections on the Wollundry lagoon, Reflecting Hope. After the challenges of the twelve months since Artstate Tamworth, we will gather to walk, listen and live respectfully in the spirit of Yindyamarra, with a shared purpose of shaping a brighter tomorrow.