The biennial Kandos Cementa Festival - set for October - is set to be bigger and better than ever before thanks to backing from the NSW Government.
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole announced today that Cementa's 2021 Program would receive funding of $139,000 to continue to grow and promote the big event.
One of the driving forces behind Cementa is well-known local Alex Wisser who says this year festival program involves unique partnerships, visionary art making, creative community practice, local innovation and decision-making, artistic residencies and regional arts perspectives.
"We're looking forward to not just Cementa, but our year-long program that that will begin with Fermenta which is happening in March - that's a thing we're we've partnered with council to put on," Alex said.
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Fermenta, which was announced in July 2020, will celebrate the art of fermentation by local producers from sauerkraut to kombucha, small batch beers and fine wines, to chocolate and cheese.
Mid-Western Region Council Mayor, Des Kennedy said at the time of the announcement, that the event will bring much a needed social and economic boost to the region.
"Fermenta will be the perfect kick-start for the Rylstone and Kandos communities as we work to attract that crucial tourism dollar back into our region," Cr Kennedy said.
"So that's a whole other festival. We'll we'll be doing that, we've got an art space that we're now running in Kandos," Alex said. "So we've we've actually opened that space where we're running shows there and exhibitions across the year. Then we're we're still running artist residencies, which is one of the one of the things that we've always done - we invite artists from across Australia, to come to Kandos to make work for the festival. And to make work about the town and its regional context."
The festival wouldn't happen. It's basically our primary source of income.Alex Wisser
COVID has posed an obvious challenge to all the aforementioned programs, and Alex said he's cautiously optimistic about the events moving forward.
"There's a bit of kind of trying to catch up that we're doing thanks to COVID, it's going to be a bit of a tight year. With both festivals, we're having to be a bit cautious in going forward. Hopefully, things will hold and and restrictions will relax and we'll we'll be able to go ahead with doing all of the things we've got planned for the year."
And the importance of the funding cannot be overstated, with Alex admitting that the festival would not exist without it.
"The festival wouldn't happen. It's basically our primary source of income. So all of the activities that we're able to do as an organization - our mission, what we're seeking to do is to cultivate contemporary art in the region," Alex said.
"So instead of bringing up bringing art that's made in the city to the country, we actually are attempting to support artists to make it here. And that often means inviting artists from the city to look at regional life and consider it to make art, but we also then have a priority to invite regional artists to tell their own story.
"We also have an emphasis to get local artists involved as well. This money allows us to do that, and now it's allowed us to open up an art space, which in a small country town like Kandos is rare as hen's teeth."
Alex explained that the focus on local and regional artists extends to the management of the gallery space in Kandos.
"Our space is run by regional artists. So it's only open to regional artists to apply to as directors - and we have a group that's doing that. But we also then invite artists from anywhere in Australia. It's about creating a culture and involving ourselves participating in culture as it exists across Australia," Alex explained.
Mr Toole said Cementa is among 97 projects sharing in over $5 million as part of the first round of Create NSW's 2020/21 Arts & Cultural Funding Program on behalf of the NSW Government.
"Cementa's funding will contribute to supporting the local arts community in a time when it is most needed," he said.
To be held this October 14-17, Mr Toole said Cementa cultivates contemporary arts practice and bridges the gap between regional and urban culture.
"I know that Cementa is an event that is draws people from far and wide to Kandos and that Alex and his team are committed to making 2021 a year to remember in the ongoing evolution of the festival," Mr Toole said.
"Cementa operates a unique model that involves the community of a country town for an event that features local and visiting artists and special experiences for audiences."
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