The Murwillumbah Art Trail | The Quest To Sustainable Creativity
It can be an ongoing challenge for rural towns to maintain a viable and sustainable creative industry. But for Northern Rivers town Murwillumbah, a change is on the horizon with the 2016 Murwillumbah Art Trail blazing along the road to success. #artsnorthernrivers #murwillumbahartstrail
Venue: Murwillumbah Arts Trail
Date: May 26 2016
Date: May 26 2016
Tamsin Ainslie_2016_Abstract studies_ Mixed media. source: http://www.themurwillumbaharttrail.com/work/#/sugar-mill-studio/
The Murwillumbah Art Trail | The Quest To Sustainable CreativityIt is an ongoing challenge for rural towns to maintain a viable and sustainable creative industry. Funding is tight, tourism is seasonal and hard working, willing volunteers can be hard to come by. For the Northern Rivers town of Murwillumbah though, a change is on the horizon with the 2016 Murwillumbah Art Trail (MAT) blazing along the road to success.
The six day event to be held from May 26-31, will showcase over sixty established and emerging artists of the Tweed Valley and surrounds. Murwillumbah will become a gallery in itself, inviting visitors to jump on the trail and be lead through artists' studios, established galleries, pop up spaces and public art pieces.
On the brink of the 2016 event, a ray of positivity and determination surrounds MAT Director, Curator and Creator Annie Long. 2015 proved to be an exciting year for Long, taking MAT into the public sphere where it was met with overwhelming enthusiasm from local artists, businesses and the general public.
MAT was initially developed as part of Long's Honors project at Southern Cross University. As a member of a regional community herself, she was interested in exploring the potential contribution of an event like MAT to the regeneration of a regional town. So success should feel welcomed and deserving for Long, as this essentially one-woman show has crafted an event that will continue to bring long lasting, positive impacts into her community.
According to Long, 'many of the empty shops in the down town district that were utilised as pop up spaces throughout the 2015 festival, some of which had been bare for over ten years, are now rented and thriving as a direct result of the festival'.
The pop up spaces themselves have certainly contributed to the vibrancy of the town and been a vital key in supporting artists' development. As Long explains, 'they have provided local artists with an opportunity to run a professional exhibition themselves, taking responsibility for most aspects of the exhibition process, as well as providing a space for them to talk directly with the public, hence getting direct feedback on their work. As a result I have witnessed with a number of emerging artists a new confidence and higher level of professionalism in their art practice'.
Having proven itself to be an event worthy of community support, excitement is certainly in the air in the lead up to MAT2016. 'Everyone is waiting to see what happens this year as it has had more promotion from Destination Tweed and its reputation is growing,' says Long of the event. A program with more depth and refinement, as well as the enthusiastic support of a much tighter knit artistic community, are qualities to be expected of this years event.
It is people like Annie Long that are integral to the continued success and growth of the arts in our regional communities, having the passion and drive to create events that foster the development of artistic talent, as well as contributing to the regeneration of a small town.
However, sustainability of these events is often down to how long one person can keep going unaided. Of MAT Long says, 'I hope it becomes part of the cultural fabric of Murwillumbah as an annual event. However, this can't happen without paid art professionals running the event. So, I hope that stakeholders are prepared to invest in growing and consolidating what I have been able to achieve in two years.'
On the completion of MAT2016, Long intends to invite stakeholders to a meeting to review the event and hopes a sustainable model will come out of it. In the meanwhile, it's time to enjoy and embrace this phenomenal community event and as the public, do all we can to show our support. MAT2016 launches tonight, May 26. For a full program of the event head on over to the Murwillumbah Art Trail website. See you on the trail!