|MP Ben Franklin and Narrandera Mayor Jenny Clarke opening the new Arts and Community Centre|
Narrandera’s wish for an exclusive venue for arts, culture and community events finally came true when the new Arts and Community Centre opened its doors for the first time on Friday July 15th and welcomed more than 80 people with the fantastic works of regional Aboriginal artists.
The centre was officially opened by NSW Upper House MP Ben Franklin, who represented Minister of the Arts Troy Grant. Mr. Franklin was impressed by the look of the new Arts centre, which is housed in a refurbished 100 year old heritage building, and its meaning to the community. "This is a beautiful event in such a beautiful place...if every town of 5000 people had a facility like this then arts culture would explode in Regional NSW. This Centre is in line with what we’re trying to achieve which is to create opportunities to enjoy art in regional areas because every artist should be allowed to flourish.", Mr. Franklin said.
The Representative also spoke fondly of the opening exhibition Murrumbidgee Marramarra, a project initiated by Western Riverina Arts and Griffith Regional Art Gallery. “What could be more appropriate than to open this fine facility but with the magnificent Marramarra Exhibition which showcases the finest of local indigenous talent."
Western Riverina Arts Executive Officer Derek Motion, who put together the exhibition was delighted about the outcome and describes Murrumbidgee Marramarra as a real draw card exhibition, that will put Narranderas new arts space on the cultural map. The showcased outstanding Aboriginal artworks are exclusively from regional artists including Michael Lyons, Ros Lockhart, William Ingram, Rodney Simpson, Allan McKenzie, Sarah Weymouth, Wayne Krause, Corey McKenzie and Veronica Collins.
Mr. Motion is also planning a second iteration of Murrumbidgee Marramarra for 2017. "Western Riverina Arts will be conducting skills development workshops for Aboriginal artists over the next twelve months with funding from the Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund to create new work for the 2017 program. The new Arts and Community Centre will provide an ideal location for this and similar arts projects."
The opening of the new Arts Centre is an exciting occasion for the whole community as it is the first dedicated space for arts and culture in Narrandera Shire. The former heritage Lodge Leopold building which was in use since 1909 was acquired by Narrandera Shire council in 2012. The restoration of the building costed over $320,000 and was was supported by the NSW Government with substantial grants from Clubs NSW and Arts NSW’s Regional Capital Grants program.
The beautifully refurbished building offers now an arts display room with an adjoining performance room and aims in particular at the development of Indigenous arts practice. Narrandera Mayor Jenny Clarke said the opening, was something to be celebrated. “Being able to open the doors on the first exhibition at the Centre marks the culmination of an all-out effort by the Narrandera Arts and Community Centre Working Party and Council staff to create a beautiful space for the development of arts and culture in our Shire."
The Arts and Community Centre is the beginning of a new era for arts and cultural life in Narrandera and the community is confident that the Centre will bring not only arts and cultural benefits to the community, but also possible economic benefits through attracting interest from across the region. Community Committee member Michael Pieper said early attendances had already exceeded expectations. “We’ve had visitors come from around the Riverina and Victoria so it’s fair to say the response has been fantastic,” Mr Pieper said.
The success of the opening night continued the next day when the new Arts Centre opened its doors to the public. Over 100 people came to see the artworks and the centre stayed busy till late, hosting the first of many art networking sessions by Western Riverina Art.
The exhibition Murrumbidgee Marramarra will be showing until Saturday August 13th. The Arts and Community Centre will be open every Tuesday and Wednesday and for a limited time each Saturday. Entry to the exhibition is free.