IT’s been a big week for Bendigo’s thriving arts and cultural precinct and today’s Bendigo Weekly front page encapsulates it well.
On the one hand, yesterday’s announcement of curator Jessica Bridgfoot as the Bendigo Art Gallery’s next director is a wonderful story that offers as much excitement and potential for our gallery, its supporters and the community at large.
Alongside this is the Bendigo Writers Festival program, which is included in today’s paper.
In a very short amount of time, the Bendigo Writers Festival has grown into a festival of some significance, and is already, like the gallery, an institution unto itself and one that is extremely well regarded and a highlight on the city’s busy culture and arts calendar.
The Bendigo Writers Festival, an institution in just its eighth year, has grown from its home base at the Capital and its wonderful heritage surrounds to encompass the superb Ulumbarra Theatre, the Trades Hall Council building, a couple of sojourns into the surrounding region and now even the Bendigo Bowling Club.
Bendigo, it seems, has an insatiable appetite for ideas, for the arts and for honest conversations with the bevy of authors, performers, politicians and personalities that have all left their mark on the festival in the past eight years.
Both the festival, and the gallery, are a tribute to the hardworking individuals, supporters and sponsors who recognise the value in backing the community they are part of. For that we should always be grateful.
For the gallery, this week’s announcement signals the beginning of a new era.
After Karen Quinlan’s incredibly successful reign as director, a period that helped entrench the gallery as arguably one of the best regionally-based arts and cultural institutions anywhere in the world, it’s time for a new director to make their mark.
By her own admission, Ms Bridgfoot comes from a contemporary background and she yesterday stated she would like to see more diversity and interactive experiences in the gallery during her time.
She rightfully points out the great exhibition spaces that have been created and says her team will work with new artists from Australia and beyond to ‘ramp up our program of curated contemporary exhibitions’.
We wish Ms Bridgfoot, as the Bendigo Art Gallery’s new director, every success as she launches into the most challenging and hopefully rewarding time in her career.
Her success will be Bendigo’s success, and there is a long list of government and corporate supporters who will be just excited about the next chapter in the gallery’s incredible story under her stewardship.
It must also be noted that the gallery would not exist without the support of the City of Greater Bendigo and the generous backing of the state government.
This partnership has underpinned the gallery’s elevation during the past decade and we hope it continues to deliver such positive benefits for our city and region.