Arts Program

Image: Wagga Comedy Fest. Supplied: Eastern Riverina Arts

Celebrating Arts in The Riverina! 

Artstate Wagga Wagga 2020 will showcase the rich and diverse cultural identity of the Riverina region of NSW. The Arts Program celebrates the work that always happens here, from the deep cultural connections of the Wiradjuri people, to our established artists and cultural organisations, and to the confidently emerging voices that are shaping our region’s futures.

Artstate 2020 recognises the role ongoing collaborations across the region, across the state and across the globe, play in nurturing our cultural landscape, a landscape that supports artistic development, community participation, creative relevance, and most of all the unique and talented artists who call the Riverina home.

Each day of Artstate will commence with a morning call from the balcony of the Civic Theatre broadcast across the city through some of the biggest car stereos Wagga Wagga has to offer.

The opening ceremony on the Thursday acknowledges the importance of Wiradjuri culture and the reclamation of the Wiradjuri language. Devised by artist Jonathan Jones in collaboration with senior Wiradjuri Elders, a ceremonial welcome to country will explain the true meaning of Wagga Wagga as ‘a place of many dances and celebrations’.

Wiradjuri culture is embedded in the program, from the beautiful murrin installation floating on the Wollundry Lagoon, to the walan gugaa sculpture overseeing proceedings in the foyer of the Civic Theatre, and in the many artists, musicians and performers spread throughout the program

Throughout Artstate, the arts program will offer the premier of a new performance works, music from around the world, poetry and prose and a surprise around every corner. Each night at the Playhouse an assortment of weird and wonderful drag, cabaret, poets, musicians and burlesque performers will keep you entertained.

The region’s visual artists will be showcased in multiple exhibitions. Something to Say curated by Sarah McEwan and Julie Montgarrett; old:NEW curated by Kate Allman shows contemporary responses to the unique objects found in our regions museums and Horizons Made Wide a survey exhibition taking Riverina artists to the street. The Space of Artists is an ongoing dialogue between artists from the Riverina and from Parramatta Artist Studios. The ambition and scope of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery will be on display through its exciting exhibition program.

The Riverina has a long history in developing and promoting the work of artists with disability. Artstate welcomes back post-disability arts company Real Art Works to where it all began. Promising to ‘flip our switches’ with their ongoing exploration of The (un)Usual, this intimate experience brings together artists from the Northern Rivers, the South Coast and Wagga Wagga.

Taking things to an even more intimate level is a series of one-of-one performances inside the immersive multi-sensory space, Platform. Low Energy Dance is a new work by contemporary choreographer Angela French and dj/producer Nina Las Vegas. With Together/Apart you won’t know who is performing for you until you enter.

To celebrate the fourth and final year of Artstate, we have commissioned a spectacular light installation by Clint Hurrell on the banks of the Wollundry Lagoon. Reflecting Hope will be a memorable celebration of the program, an optimistic signpost towards an inspiring global future. Breath. Breathing. Reflecting Hope.

Saturday night closes with featuring the William Crighton Band supported by Rory Phillips. 20 years Riverina-bred singer songwriter, William Crighton, would regularly play the Tourist Hotel. Now he travels the world with his unique mix of traditional music and experimentation. Tumut’s rising star,  14 year-old Rory Phillips will support one of his musical heroes.

Covid-19 has had an almighty effect on the arts program and has forced the artists in the program to adapt, abandon, rework our initial ideas many times over. I thank all of the programmed artists for their willingness to stay creative in these unprecedented times.

In developing the Arts Program, my aim is to let the work of our artists and their contributions throughout this region speak loudly about who we are. The artists and their works presented here are not just something for Artstate, they are part of ongoing practices and commitment to expanding participation in the cultural life of this region. I have lived in this region for over twenty years, I have watched artists develop their practice here and then take it to the world. I have watched people from all over the world come here and share with us new ways of making. I have watched our First Nations people share old ways of living with us. I hope this arts program shares a little of that experience with you.

 – Scott Howie
Arts Program Director