Artstate Program Launches for the Fourth and Final Time

25 Aug 2020 /

Regional Arts NSW has today launched the program for the fourth and final iteration of Artstate – an arts showcase and conference to be held in Wagga Wagga from 5 – 8 November 2020.  


The Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre hosted the small, Covid-safe launch event that was livestreamed so that those who wanted to join the conversation and celebrate the launch could do so under the current restrictions.


Speaking at the launch of Artstate today, Wagga City Mayor, Greg Conkey expressed his delight in welcoming this cultural event to the region.


“Wagga Wagga is a city of exceptional beauty, and this time of year is spectacular to witness the Murrumbidgee River and its surroundings, including a host of beautiful parks and cultural facilities.


“It is with great pleasure that we are partnering with Regional Arts NSW, working alongside our colleagues at Eastern Riverina Arts, and our creative community for this event. Thank you, Minister Harwin, for yours and Create NSW’s support of the Artstate four-year program and the staging of this event across regional NSW.


“I encourage everyone to attend Artstate Wagga Wagga.  Those that do will get to witness a spectacular program of exhibitions, performances, cultural experiences, and special events curated to be true to our place while at the same time allowing us to learn and celebrate regionals arts excellence.”


Developed following the success of Artlands Dubbo in 2016 – The Artstate concept is a four-year event that has travelled to Lismore (2017), Bathurst (2018), and Tamworth (2019). It will arrive in Wagga Wagga later this year. The purpose of Artstate is to shine a light on the diversity and  excellence in art practice in each of the regions that it visits, and explore the exciting possibilities for arts and cultural development across the regional parts of the state.


While launching the event today, Chair of Regional Arts NSW, Julie Briggs, said, ” I am extremely pleased that regional NSW’s largest showcase event for the arts will be held in my hometown of Wagga Wagga. As we announce the program for our final Artstate, we also reflect on the success of our previous three events and the footprint that this celebration of regional creativity has left across the state.


“The support we have received from the NSW Government through Create NSW and NSW Health, Wagga Wagga City Council, TAFE NSW, the Regional Arts Fund has seen Artstate become a platform that provides financial and social opportunities for so many creatives. It has been particularly important to demonstrate that even in times of great adversity, the arts in all its many forms can provide a common platform that brings people together.


“Although we have to tailor our event to the current circumstances, we are looking forward to being able to deliver another fantastic Artstate for everyone to look forward to in Wagga Wagga later this year.”


Regional Arts NSW CEO Elizabeth Rogers said, “While the program is very different from what we had envisaged due to the measures put in place to keep our communities safe from Covid-19, the program will once again be a spectacular display of creativity that is reflective of the region.  I want to congratulate Scott Howie, the Arts Program Director, and all the artists for adjusting their works in these uncertain times to ensure we are still able to showcase the cultural and creative offerings of the Riverina during Artstate.”


Artstate will commence with an opening ceremony, “WAGGA WAGGA: to dance, to celebrate,” which will take place in, around, and on the Wollundary Lagoon.  Conceived by Jonathan Jones and created with Senior Wiradjuri elders, the opening ceremony will explain the true meaning of the name Wagga Wagga through the coming-together of sounds, songs, and stories that will deeply connect people to country.


Following the opening ceremony will be two days of a speaker’s conference, where the conversations will centre around the themes “Walking Together” and “Shaping Tomorrow.” Some of the recently confirmed speakers include Ella Havelka,  a descendant of the Wiradjuri people who became the first Aboriginal woman to join The Australian Ballet in 2013;  and Gayle Kennedy, an  Award-winning writer, Wongaiibon woman, and wheelchair user who will put her own unique spin on the theme of ‘walking together.’ Afternoon break out sessions will include some sector specific presentations from organisations such as TAFE NSW and Music NSW.


Complimentary to the speaker’s program will be a diverse arts program, comprising of exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances, public installations, written and visual arts, traditional Wiradjuri practices, and more. The arts program is free and open for the community to enjoy; however, numbers will be limited, and social distancing measures will be in place to abide by Coid-19 restrictions.


As part of the arts program, every morning of Artstate will commence with CALL, a live performance from the Balcony of the Civic Theatre by Lisette Bolton and Clare Brassil. CALL will be broadcast to several vehicles featuring oversized stereos that will be placed around the city for all to hear.


Riverina-based artists, John Wood and Vic McEwan, will also team up to present SIGH – a collaboration between a Blacksmith and a musician that will be displayed as a performance in a working blacksmith’s studio. Featuring forged steel, flames, fire, clarinet, pump organs, contact microphones and more, audiences will hear the screams & sighs of this enduring paradoxical medium.


Cultural centres in the city including the Wagga Civic Theatre,  The CSU Riverina Playhouse, Wagga Art Gallery and The Museum of the Riverina will open their doors to host multiple shows and exhibitions during Artstate. Some of the works taking place in these spaces include the dynamic drag trio, Haus Of Fork whose fierce and fabulous representation of First Nations realness will set your soul on fire.  Performances by traditional Yazidi musician, Khairi Darweesh; an exhibition, Horizons


Made Wide that will showcase over fifteen of the Riverina’s most exciting visual artists inspired by the enduring landscape and timeless stories of the region.


Both the arts and speakers’ program for Artstate Wagga Wagga will continue to be developed over the coming weeks, with registrations to go on sale from Monday 7 September.


Please note: A number of measures will be in place to ensure that Artstate 2020 is presented as a Covid-safe event. Limited numbers, essential bookings and check ins, social distancing, and strict hygiene practices will be in enforced throughout Artstate 2020. Those wishing to attend or participate in Artstate 2020 must abide by these practices.