RICH HISTORY: Beryl from The Cupcakes outside Newrybar Hall for the launch of If These Halls Could Talk.
RICH HISTORY: Beryl from The Cupcakes outside Newrybar Hall for the launch of If These Halls Could Talk. Andy Parks

Arts group launches 'If these Halls could talk'

THE HALLS are alive with the sound of music - and theatre and all sorts of other arts activities.

When launching Arts Northern Rivers new region-wide project 'If These Halls Could Talk', Violent Femmes bass player Brian Ritchie declared "we're going to party like it's 1899".

The ambitious two-year project aims to get communities across the Northern Rivers to celebrate their community hall and to collect the stories and memories of the people who have used them for over 100 years.

As well as the local history that will be collected in this process, a creative producer will devise a project based around the stories of seven of the halls.

Some of the creative teams that have indicated they would like to be involved include Norpa. Opera Queensland, Spaghetti Circus and visual artist Frances Belle-Parker.

Over a period of several months, the arts teams will work with the community to come up with a site-specific art work that could involve visual artists, theatre producers, musicians, installation artists, dancers or any other artform that will help tell the story of that hall.

There will also be a book and exhibition to come out of the material collected in the process.

Arts Northern Rivers CEO, Peter Wood said we are a region of villages, and at the heart of most villages is the community hall.

"It plays a significant role in many people's lives," he said. "It becomes the focus point for what goes on in the community and everyone's got a story about their hall and they talk very passionately about what it means to them."

Director of the MONA FOMA festival Brian Ritchie has become a leading advocate for regional arts and was at the launch to talk about the importance of art reflecting the experiences of the community it serves.

"For 'If These Halls Could Talk' to accomplish its goals, the artists will have to listen, dream and meditate to tune in to the stories and history of each hall. Then, and only then will the halls be able to talk loud and clear," he said.

The first stage of the project is to select one hall from each of the Local Government Areas covered by Arts Northern Rivers.

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