Organisers of the River of Art festival in Eurobodalla are determined this year’s event will go ahead in September despite making changes due to the past summer’s bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions.
The arts festival will run in September to allow the NSW South Coast region to celebrate the event’s theme of ‘resilience and renewal’. With no hard copy programs this year, the River of Art committee will launch a revamped website and online festival program in mid-August, leaving patrons plenty of planning time before the festival runs from 18-27 September.
Now in its 15th year, arts events will be held from Durras to Bermagui.
“It really is an artist-driven event,” said River of Art co-chair Di Jay. “We provide a platform for them to showcase their work.
“We see ourselves contributing to the local economy by bringing in visitors as well as fulfilling our core role of supporting the arts.”
River of Art features about 120 events and up to 25,000 individual event attendances. Eurobodalla Shire Council has recognised and funded the festival as one of two hallmark events for the region. Council’s event planning manager, Liz Rankin, said the festival helped drive economic development of Eurobodalla Shire and had the potential to become an event of national significance.
“To that end, we have a three-year agreement with River of Art, providing it with $20,000 of financial assistance,” said Ms Rankin.
Ms Jay said many local artists had suffered through the bushfires, and, more than ever, the River of Art would support and promote their work.
“Artists have been influenced by what they saw and experienced, and some say it has taken their work in a different direction, even if it’s just the colours they are using … it’s changed the way we look at the world,” she said.
“Then came COVID-19 and suddenly the place we were fleeing has become our safe place. Many of our artists have used this time to focus on their work.
“We were hoping to run a large public-art focused event called River of Art after Dark, on the riverside in Moruya, but we can’t take that risk now. We will save that for next year.
“River of Art 2020 will be a more intimate event with open studios where people can see a potter get their hands dirty, or watch a sculptor or painter at work and buy directly from that artist.
“We will also showcase videos of artists in their studios and the work they make in a new arts directory on our revamped website. Appointments can then be made directly with the artist to visit their studio.
“The always popular Art on Parade will see artists collaborate with local businesses to showcase their work in town shopfronts.”
Visitors to exhibitions will be limited to 25 at a time to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Performance and music events will also be more intimate.