Stephen Nelson is the coordinator of Lismore Art in the Heart.
I'm happy to nail my colours to the mast. I think the health of a place is best demonstrated by the diversity and quality of its ideas, its culture and the energy of its artists - of every stripe.
And we are so blessed by creativity here in Lismore: the documented number of creative workers who reside in our LGA and its regional environs is the largest such group outside of metropolitan Sydney.
In my imagining, these are the things I'd like to see come to fruition - and in five years time, not ten:
Art in the Heart enjoys a sense of permanency: property owners and real estate agents are happy to offer empty premises to our creative workers, secure in the knowledge that as the spaces are activated, foot traffic and interest increases and commercial leases follow on from the artists' temporary use.
An exciting and totally 'wired' new multi-use art-hub complex has replaced the existing (and cramped) Lismore Regional Gallery. This art-hub is used by the whole community almost 24/7 and embodies a contemporary approach to the arts engaging people.
The Back Alley Gallery's striking range of street art covers every single building in the lattice of laneways that bisect the CBD and is a tourist destination in its own right, whilst NORPA has won even more accolades and larger audiences based on the content, quality and range of its offerings.
The iconic Lismore Lantern Parade has morphed into a week-long festival, complete with fringe events, workshops, performances and a mentoring scheme for budding event organisers who assist the festival in return. It has become our Woodford.
The Star Court Theatre's wide-ranging program has grown and consolidated to host an annual Cabaret festival, featuring workshops and sold-out performances. In addition, the Star Court is a permanent fixture on touring concert artists' schedules, based on solid box office support by local and regional audiences.
The revitalised city centre, revamped parks and expanded network of riverbank walks abound with public art which reflects our character, history (both Indigenous and post-European settlement) -and floods!
A peak body representing all local cultural organisations named The Lismore Arts Trust has enhanced public awareness of the employment, economic and rich social benefits of the arts. The Trust is successful in raising funds for the art-hub facility, has established and supported the role of cultural development officer, and has helped consolidate Lismore's reputation as a cultural centre
A 5000-seat multi-purpose all-weather performance venue capable of accommodating events such as rock concerts, rodeos, symphony orchestras and Circus Oz attracts patrons from lower South East Queensland, Coffs Harbour and the breadth of the Northern Rivers and routinely sells out. (You have to dream.)
We've become a 'must see' cultural tourism destination for a growing number of the huge number of international backpackers who visit Byron Bay each year, and who spread the word about our vibrant arts scene.
By now, Lismore has become a national byword for regional Australian cultural activity. It boasts a thriving city centre filled with life, colour, movement, events and experiences. There is live music everywhere, plus an abundance of art in cafes, in empty spaces, in alleyways, arcades and galleries. I can visualise street art, public art, Indigenous and community art, esoteric art, accessible art and even virtual art at every turn.