Spotlight on Northern Rivers Community Gallery

Spotlight on Northern Rivers Community Gallery

NRCG have just been announced as one of the recipients of The Audience Development Fund – a Create NSW devolved funding program, administered by Museums & Galleries of NSW (M&GNSW) on behalf of the NSW Government – congratulations! What are your plans with this opportunity? 

Yes – we are so excited about this project! We will be collaborating with artists and scientists from Southern Cross University’s LabX research group, to develop a series of  ‘Citizen Science’ workshops for our community. Focusing on our local rivers, in particular the Richmond River, this series of interactive educational experiences will combine art, citizen science and technology to engage audiences with new ways of seeing waterways as complex environmental, historical and social phenomena. The workshops will run in conjunction with LabX’s exhibition ‘Speaking with the River’ in the Gallery during September and October 2020.


What do you think the potential is for Ballina Shire to become the cultural leader of the region?

Oh, totally huge – one could say we almost have a blank canvas to work with! Ballina is experiencing dramatic demographic changes and a number of factors are combining to drive change. The social and cultural social landscape is changing, as are the aspirations of our amazingly diverse creative community. So yes, so much really is possible. Strategic priorities identified on a state and local government level reflect increasing acknowledgement of the diverse benefits of arts and culture for all communities: economic, social wellbeing, visitor economy and education. As a result there is a significant focus on arts and cultural planning and development activities. There are already some exciting developments in cultural infrastructure happening in Ballina and we are geographically a natural hub. So as they say, watch this space!


What are your top three indicators of a healthy arts and cultural environment in a regional local government area?

In no particular order of priority…

  • Creative industries basing their operations in the area
  • Attracting high quality arts and cultural events/activities to the area as well as generating high quality and innovative events locally that have potential to tour and raise the profile of the area and its creative industries.
  • Innovative arts and cultural activities that are drivers of cultural tourism… i.e. the MONA effect


What role do you see the Gallery playing in developing Ballina Shire’s Creative Profile?

The NRCG with Ignite Studios continues to evolve as a significant, regional cultural hub in the Northern Rivers region. The NRCG is guided by principals of access, equity and participation and from that our programs act as a catalyst for artists and community to explore ideas and forge collaborative exchanges. There is an emerging trend, for both audiences and creatives, for arts and cultural experiences that are collaborative and participation based. NRCG is perfectly positioned within the Northern Rivers community and the broader regional arts industry to broker this form of arts and cultural development and has been ahead of the curve in focusing on social impact, inclusion and creative participation.

NRCG advocates for strategic cultural infrastructure development in the shire and the region, and best practice delivery of arts and cultural activities.


What exhibitions are coming up at NRCG?

As mentioned above, we have a major collaborative art project programmed for 2020, ‘Speaking with the River’ that will be complimented with a range of ‘Citizen Science’ workshops with artists and researchers from LabX, a research group dedicated to environmental arts, science and activism from Southern Cross University. This collaborative art, science and activism program will give audiences the opportunity to work with the LabX research group in a range of fun interactive ‘Citizen Science’ workshops involving data and sample gathering on location at the Richmond river and transpose their findings through a creative lens.

In 2020 we are also partnering with Byron Arts Magazine (BAM) to present their national BAM Art Prize programmed for November through to December 2020 which we are really excited about.

Two other much anticipated annual program regulars are the solo exhibitions from our graduate art award program recipients selected from the Bachelor of Art and Design at Southern Cross University and Byron School of Art diploma graduating programs.

A very exciting emerging talent, Betty Russ was awarded the SCU graduate award this year who will present a solo exhibition at NRCG during November – December 2020. The Byron School of Art award recipient will be selected at the third year graduating exhibition later this month with their exhibition programmed for July through to August 2020. The graduate award is an initiative aimed at providing recent art graduates with the professional development opportunity to create a new body of work extending on from their graduate research and brings new, innovative perspectives to our annual exhibition program.

Q&A with Northern Rivers Community Gallery Director, Lee Mathers

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