Creative buzz in Singleton
Singleton Arts and Cultural Centre is opening its doors. We spoke with Dr Faye Neilson, the creative force behind this exciting addition to the Hunter’s arts scene.
With mere days to go before the grand opening on 6 March 2022, Dr Faye Neilson, Singleton Council’s newly appointed Coordinator Arts and Culture, said what she’s most looking forward to is tapping into the area’s “creative buzz.”
Having grown up in Dungog and now a Singleton resident, Faye has a doctorate in Fine Arts and an impressive resume as a creator, educator and appreciator of art, including as a lecturer and research supervisor at the University of Newcastle for the past 16 years.
Faye said while the world might associate Singleton with world-class wine, natural beauty and heavy industry, the burgeoning – and often surprising – arts and culture scene is becoming a drawcard in itself.
“Every town has its own fingerprints and Singleton is no exception,” she said. “Absolutely everything excites me about where we are right now – we’re on the precipice of launching an incredibly vibrant creative space and, thanks to our already thriving community of arts and crafts creators, this new facility offers a new way for everyone to connect with creative arts.
“Whether that’s dropping in to view an exhibition, meeting a maker, or producing an artwork in a workshop. “Singleton also has a notable Aboriginal and colonial history and is home to some of the most sacred indigenous sites in Australia, so if we look beyond the vines and the mines, people will discover that our area is enveloped in rich cultural heritage.”
While charged with overseeing the operation of the Arts and Cultural Centre, Faye is currently hard at work on the 2022 arts and culture program, which will include an exciting array of exhibitions from local and regional artists to workshops, kids’ activities and various artists’ talks.
She said ultimately, the program will be focused on connecting people to place and experience.
“I want the Arts and Cultural Centre to inspire and delight, for our programs and exhibitions to invigorate and pique the imagination, to foster creativity and the ongoing appreciation for wellbeing it brings,” she said.
“A lot of people are working creatively in Singleton and the greater Hunter region and I like the idea that we are making a central hub for people to connect with each other. It’s a balance between showcasing local work and bringing in exciting exhibitions from afar – presenting pieces that challenge us, excite us and start discussions. But most of all, we want to create an inclusive environment where people feel welcome and want to be part of it. It’s a space for and about the community, to entertain and offer new experiences for everyone.”
The inaugural exhibition features
‘We Are Singleton: Portrait of a Town’ by photographer Edwina Richards and ‘Mapping Wanaruah/Wonnarua’ by Debbie Becker. Both creatives have drawn inspiration from their own, unique connection to Singleton and the Hunter Valley (see p. 16 for more details).
The new Arts and Cultural Centre also houses the Singleton Civic Art Collection with curated, regularly changing selections on display.
Singleton’s $4.08m Arts and Cultural Centre is funded in partnership between Singleton Council and a $2.787m grant from Create NSW. It offers more than 300 square metres of state-of-the-art gallery space, two artists’ workshops, decking and a shared foyer connecting the Arts and Cultural Centre to the newly refurbished Visitor Information Centre.
Taking arts to public spaces
In the lead-up to the opening of the Centre, the Living Laneways project has already added an artistic vibe to the streets of Singleton, enriching public spaces with high-impact activations and drawing international attention to the region with interactive shadow displays and thought boxes, video projections, murals and sound devices.
From Soapsuds Lane to Tre Bella Laneway and Burns Lane, Singleton’s streets are buzzing with creative touches, setting the scene for the opening of this exciting new venue.
For more information about the Arts and Cultural Centre, visit https://www.singleton.nsw.gov.au/artsandculturalcentre