MusicNSW Attends ArtState 2020 - MusicNSW

Image credit: Jackie Cooper

Phoebe Pinnock, our Regional Music Officer from Wagga Wagga, Albury and Snowy Valleys, fills us in on what went down at Artstate 2020 in Wagga Wagga.

Set in the picturesque Civic Theatre Wollundry lagoon precinct and surrounds, in the thriving regional metropolis of Wagga Wagga, ArtState 2020 celebrated the rich, unique and diverse practice of artists in regional NSW. 

The conference was programmed by the exceptional Scott Howie and began by highlighting the deep cultural connections of the Wiradjuri people to the area. Throughout the three days, delegates were treated to performances, presentations, talks and exhibitions of some of the most influential arts workers in the region, and treated to a varied palette of music, art, culture and performance.

For our part, MusicNSW Managing Director Emily Collins spoke about the organisation’s work this year in meeting and counteracting the challenges posed by the pandemic, and our plans for 2021. Super proud to be part of this and witness the appreciation for the work MusicNSW does. 

The MusicNSW Regional Music Officers gave a feature presentation and we chose to focus on the work that we have undertaken to plan for a regional live music explosion starting in 2021. We covered the work and accomplishments of the Regional Music Officer pilot program and teased a big 2021 project: a Regional Touring Network.

It was very exciting to be able to discuss these things publicly, and It was wonderful to hear feedback from the many visitors to Wagga Wagga about the local arts community and how they recognise and are inspired by the work of the Wagga Civic Theatre in supporting local original artists. Following our presentation – and a picturesque walk along the Murrumbidgee River and “Wagga Beach” – we attended CSU acting students’ improvised piece “Playhaus: Act - Tome + Rush”.

On Saturday night we were thrilled to attend a synthesizer performance by David Burraston. Taking place in St. Johns Church and complemented by mood lighting and the acoustics of the cathedral ceilings, the synthesizer performance was a contemplative and meditative experience.

The night also featured stand up by some of the region’s best local comics, followed by a truly enthralling performance – “Playhaus: Words + Music”. Some of us were brought to tears by the poetry and music of Jackie Atim, a young slam poet from Wagga, joined by experimental, multi-instrumentalist Damien Evans. Following Jackie and Damien, it was Yazidi musician Kairi Darwesh, a central figure in the local Yazidi community. Moving to Wagga Wagga from Iraq in 2019, Mr Darwesh performed and sang in Kurmanji about his journey from his home country to his new home in NSW.

Along the Wollundry lagoon, a light installation was taking place. Participants dressed in white hazard overalls, were tied together and walked in a group, taking in the show through headphones silent disco-style. Apart from the performances and exhibitions, Wagga Council gave an presentation about its 10 year cultural plan which made me excited for the future of the region.

I am so very inspired by my peers locally in community development and arts administration at Eastern Riverina Arts, and the exceptional work they do to make Wagga Wagga such a culturally vibrant place. 

It is a testament to the resilience of our region that despite the fires and the pandemic, our arts community came out in force and made something special at Artstate 2020. I was inspired by the potential energy it represented, like an arrow being drawn back in its bow, ready to hit the bullseye in 2021.

Phoebe Pinnock.