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Newcastle Art Gallery: Why inclusive programming is key

Brooke Boland

Newcastle Art Gallery demonstrates why being inclusive across all facets of programming is essential.
Newcastle Art Gallery: Why inclusive programming is key

Hannah Quinlivan State of Suspension (with artist) (2016) Steel, PVC, nylon, salt and shadow (2 km wire, 1.5 km nylon, 6.5 kg salt)

Inclusivity is a vital feature of contemporary arts programming. For Newcastle Art Gallery Manager Lauretta Morton, inclusivity means curating a space for works by diverse artists, as the upcoming Black White & Restive survey of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists allows.

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Morton also emphasises the need for accessibility. ‘Art is for everyone, in my view. It is important that we offer diversity in our program and that is something I’m proud of, that we do try to engage with all members of the community,’ she said.

Newcastle Art Gallery has struck a balance between creating accessible programs for its large and varied audience, and contributing to important conversations in the art world.

Take the latest exhibition Just Draw as one example, whereby young artists Todd Fuller and Lisa Woolfe have had the opportunity to curate a wide-ranging survey of the art form. From installation, multimedia, performance, sculpture and even robotics, Just Draw takes the deceptively simple medium of drawing to create a plethora of artistic possibilities.

Not only does the exhibition push the boundaries of this traditional medium, the program has also attracted a wider audience to the Gallery.

‘It’s bringing in a younger demographic, the 20-30 year olds that are tricky to get to the Gallery, and they are coming back because it is so contemporary and different to what they expected,’ said Morton.

‘People often feel that they need to understand the art before they walk through the door. We are working to break down those barriers and help people feel comfortable in the space. We design our programs to attract all demographics.’

 

Gordon Bennett Number five 2003 acrylic on linen 167 x 152cm Gift of Terrey P Arcus through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program 2012 Newcastle Art Gallery collection.

The Gallery is set to follow the success of Just Draw with the upcoming Black White & Restive exhibition opening this May. Morton told ArtsHub this major exhibition proposes a series of conversations to show how cross-cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists has generated some of the most significant works of art in Australia.

‘Inclusive and accessible programming is what is important. It is key to the Gallery's ongoing relevance in the community,’ concluded Morton.

About the author

Brooke Boland is a Melbourne-based freelance writer. She recently completed her PhD on gender, translation and women's writing and has tutored undergraduates at Victoria University and the University of NSW.

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