The Camden Haven and Hastings areas are fortunate to experience a fabulous array of artistic events each year, encompassing art exhibitions, musical, dance and dramatic performances and craft displays.
The Camden Haven Arts Council is one local organisation that aims to promote an appreciation of the arts within the community. Chrystine Bouffler, President of Management Committee, shares the organisation’s passion for the arts …
How and when was the Camden Haven Arts Council established?
The Camden Haven Arts Council (CHAC) has been presenting quality arts experiences for the Camden Haven and Hastings communities for over 40 years. Starting life as the Arts Club of Laurieton, CHAC was formed in 1973 as a local arts council affiliated with the Arts Council of NSW, now Regional Arts NSW. It was incorporated in 1995.
All branches of the arts were catered for, with art exhibitions, craft displays, drama, dance and music. CHAC also acted as the auspicing body for many smaller groups, providing a secure umbrella while they became self sufficient and established.
CHAC was the first organisation to stage a major event in the newly completed Port Macquarie Civic Centre in 1973, when it brought the Queensland Ballet Company to perform. The Civic Centre was located in Clarence Street and was demolished to make way for the Glasshouse. Ever since then, CHAC has continued to provide high quality artistic experiences to local audiences.
In the beginning, most events were held in the Laurieton School of Arts, but once the 1908 Kendall School of Arts was restored to its original beauty in 1983, it quickly became the centre of CHAC’s presentations. In 1987, CHAC members raised the funds to acquire their own piano, and a Yamaha chamber grand piano was purchased. In 2008, with that piano reaching the end of its productive life, it was replaced with a Kawai chamber grand. This purchase firmly aligned CHAC with the future of musical performance in the area. Thanks to the many hours of volunteer labour over the preceding years, a cash surplus was converted into a tangible, beautiful asset for our organisation and the community. The Arts Council’s piano is located in Kendall School of Arts and is available for hire to approved organisations and events.
What’s the aim of the CHAC?
We like to present unique experiences which do not overlap or compete with other styles of entertainment locally and which help to bond and unite people of like minds in the community. By doing this, we aim to build up a solid core of worthwhile arts presentations in the area, without focusing simply on ‘high art’, which can sometimes be exclusive, or on popular culture alone, but perhaps to broaden the appreciation base for the arts and to generally provide a good feeling about what is being presented by local groups.
How many members does the organisation currently have?
CHAC offers annual memberships for singles, couples and families. We currently have a total membership of 160 from all walks of life – professionals, retired singles and couples, plus quite a smattering of families. We don’t gather information on people’s personal lives; we just know they come together as members because they appreciate the arts and like to support the cultural presentations provided by local volunteer groups and organisations.
Where and how often does the group meet?
The Management Committee meets monthly to manage the organisation’s affairs and to plan events. The members meet annually at the General Meeting to receive information about the year’s activities, financial reports and to elect its new Management Committee members. Members receive a regular newsletter to keep them up to date with what’s happening.
What types of activities does the CHAC regularly engage in?
We have hosted all sorts of entertainment and arts events, from classical music to murder mysteries; however, most of our events are concerts. We try to reach new audiences by ensuring that our concerts are friendly and informative, with programs and notes, as well as encouraging our performers to talk to the audience about the music. This extends their enjoyment, as well as being educational. Often the stories behind the music are as fascinating as the music itself. We find our audiences love these little talks throughout concerts.
CHAC follows the old country tradition of the afternoon tea ‘spread’, which sits well in the ambience of the Kendall Hall. It also gives patrons a chance to chat over a cuppa with the performers – something that you can’t do at the Sydney Opera House!
In addition, in conjunction with Essential Energy, CHAC offers two annual scholarships each of $2,000 – one to encourage local music students between the 12 and 21 and the other a School Scholarship, to enhance the teaching of the performing arts in regional schools.
What have been some of the highlights for you during the time you’ve been with the CHAC?
There have been many, but perhaps some of the more significant have been the exciting Australian Opera performances, which CHAC hosted before the Glasshouse was built and a thrilling performance by TAIKOZ, the Australian drumming group.
What performances/events are on the agenda in the next few months?
Going into 2012, we have two events planned that will introduce some fine local performers to our audiences. Later in the year we will again present the Sydney Conservatorium Students’ North Coast Tour, which is an annual event guided by David Miller, Chair of Ensemble Studies at Sydney Conservatorium.
This tour brings specially selected music students to north coast towns to perform concerts and give school workshops. Each year it is a different group, different instrumentation and program.
These concerts are greatly anticipated by local music lovers, as they bring the joyful enthusiasm for music that young performers display. These students are usually at the end of their undergraduate music degree courses, so are just about to launch onto their concert and teaching careers.
What goals would the committee like to see the CHAC achieve in the next 12 months – and can the general public help with these?
In the coming year we aim for a more upfront profile -– to have the Clare Foster and Schools Scholarships recognised in the general community for the valuable contribution they make towards music education for individuals and schools and to present arts and cultural events that are uplifting and provide genuine enjoyment. We’d love people to come to our events and to get to know us and what we do.
Interview by Jo Atkins.