There’s a warm and intimate little venue tucked away in Wauchope that attracts musicians, performers and artists of the highest calibre. If you haven’t visited an event staged by the Wauchope Community Arts Council Inc. Krissa Wilkinson,shares her enthusiasm for the arts.
Krissa, what’s your position with the organisation, and how long have you been involved?
I’m the Events and Publicity Officer but since we formed in 1995, I’ve had many roles − including President.
In 1997 we lobbied for a community arts centre, and the Wauchope Arts Hall has been bathed in sound and creativity ever since.
Give us a brief history behind the establishment of the Wauchope Community Arts Council Inc.?
In the eighties, a number of artists moved to the area. For a while, we collaborated on arts events and then decided to form a community arts council under the umbrella of Arts NSW.
We realised a long time ago that if we wanted an artistic community, we had to create things ourselves − and this included the very popular Bad Dags arts cafés.
It was an incredible time and also signalled the beginning of a community of visual artists who gathered in studios and local halls.
Many of us had come from vibrant cities like Melbourne, and we were inspired to get things happening here.
What’s the aim of the organisation?
Community building − offering diverse cultural experiences for Wauchope and beyond. We believe in the role that the arts play in transforming and enriching people’s lives.
Picasso once said that “Art washes away the everyday dust from our souls”, and we witness that regularly when audiences are profoundly moved by the beauty in music or the ideas explored in a film.
We don’t just put on events – we have also auspiced many fledgling groups, including Slippry Sircus, Bago Magic and Bloke’s Notes. We also love to work with others and recently established the Tree Fiesta, which will be an annual event in Wauchope.
How many/what types of members are involved with the organisation? What is it that brings these people together?
Our committee members have day jobs as teachers, nurses, disability workers, business owners, artists and musicians. We happily volunteer at Wauchope Arts because it enriches our lives, as well as providing an unusual experience for Wauchope and beyond.
We have a few hundred members who regularly attend our events, and that number is growing as more people discover the magic of our gigs … and that travelling to Wauchope is not like crossing the Nullarbor!
The Arts Hall is a small timber hall with great acoustics and a lovely intimate atmosphere that touring musicians really appreciate and return to during world tours.
Where and when does the group meet?
We have concerts and art house or documentary film nights each month and a meeting the second Wednesday of every month. Our Arts Hall is adjacent to Bain Park in Wauchope (off Oxley Lane).
What have been some of the highlights for you, personally, during your time with the Arts Council?
Well, it is hard to choose … so many over so much time, and some artists return – even from overseas!
Del Rey, the American guitar queen’s show about the history of women in Jazz and Blues was extraordinary, and the contemporary classical Sunwrae Ensemble from Melbourne were divine.
Another memorable night was the local music showcase fundraiser for the Japan Tsunami appeal.
One of the events on the Art Council’s agenda is a performance by Mic Conway on November 5. Tell us about Mic … he sounds like a fabulous entertainer!
Mic played for us some years back at one of our festivals with his National Junk Band.
He truly is a legend, and I have been a fan since his Captain Matchbox days in Melbourne.
We are thrilled to have him and Robbie Long playing on November 5 – audiences can expect some Vaudevillian magic, great musicianship and a lot of humour.
Mic will be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Robbie Long; the duo is set to release a new album, Street of Dreams, soon.
What other events are planned for the next few months?
Puggsley Buzzard, the Blues pianist, returns on November 26, and he will have the place rocking with his extraordinary style and throaty vocals.
Our last concert for the year on December 17 is a return performance by Tibet2Timbuk2 – an African, Tibetan, and Indian fusion band who were really popular last time.
How can people interested in becoming involved with the Arts Council or attending one of the performances/exhibitions find out more information?
Our web address is www.wauchopearts.org.au
Members get discounts at every concert and free entry to our film nights.
Final words …
The Wauchope Community Arts Hall is just that − community. It is one of the most intimate venues in the Hastings that attracts acts of extraordinary quality, and it feels as if they are playing in your lounge room with a bunch of your best friends.
The Wauchope Art Council’s motto is ‘Arts from the Heart’ – a very fitting description of what we do.
Interview by Jo Atkins.