Kandos is growing into its reputation as an important art destination with its very own art facility, after the folk at Cementa signed the lease on 'Angus Hall' - the original community hall of the town.
The facility, to be called WAYOUT, will be home to an artist residency, Cementa offices and an exhibition and community project space. The building is nearly a hundred years old and has served as a film theatre, roller skating rink, dance hall, gym, and most recently housing the Harley Davidson Museum of NSW.
"WAYOUT will be what is called an ARI space, or an Artist Run Initiative," Alex Wisser, Cementa creative director explained.
"It means that the artists run the space and make all the important decisions, this is something that's common in the cities but less so in the regions. We chose this model because giving artists this kind of control over the process of production and exhibition is essential to creative culture.
"It gives artists an opportunity to take risks they couldn't do in more 'professional' circumstances, but also creates a community of support and interaction, a thing that is harder for regional artists to do because we are so spread out.
"The great thing about WAYOUT is that it will be run exclusively by regional artists but open to artists from across Australia. This means that the artists living in our region will get the opportunity to connect with arts communities in the cities but also in other regional areas."
The new facility will get a slow start, as Cementa19 is just around the corner (November 21-24) and the team will working furiously to pull off another successful festival.
The main priority was to refurbish a small apartment at the back of the building to serve as an artist residency for artists who visit Kandos to make work for the festival. Other than that, the space has been cleaned and the Cementa offices will be moved in and made available to interested artists and community to run projects and put on exhibitions.
After the festival more energy will be put into running the space on an ongoing basis. Eventually, WAYOUT will host a year-round program of events, exhibitions, workshops, and community projects that will draw visitors into the town and area to see what the artists are up to.
"We are looking to take what we do every two years," Alex added. "And spread it out across the years in between.
"After all, we ask every artist participating in Cementa to visit Kandos in order to make their work about our regional situation. This means we can have up to 25 artists a year visiting the town, but nobody really sees this.
"It's a huge resource and combined with the amazing work that regional artists are doing, we can turn this into year-round activity, making, exhibiting, doing - creating a hub that shows off the vibrant culture of our region. This, in turn, we hope will generate some much-needed economic activity in Kandos, giving visitors a reason to turn off the highway to check out the art on their way through the area.
"Maybe even people will begin to come up just to see the art and then take in some of the other amazing aspects of the Mid West."
- Cementa is currently running a fundraiser campaign to help support their new project at australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/cementa