Enhancing arts & culture Our Sister Cities
Council hosted the Australian Sister Cities Association national conference from 27 to 30 July 2009 at the Ettalong Beach Club. The conference, with the theme ‘Sense of Place’, provided delegates from both the youth and adult programs with the opportunity to learn from and share one another’s indigenous histories. National and international delegates experienced an informative and interactive program, as well as exploring some of Gosford’s local highlights.
Council continues its support of local regional festivals such as Australia Day, Gosford Show, 5 Lands Walk, Flora Festival, Bloodtree Festival, Brisbane Water Oyster Festival, 2GO Carols and New Year’s Eve, amongst others.
Council proudly welcomed delegates from our international sister cities to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its sister city relationships. Since 1988 Gosford City has fostered sister city relationships with Edogawa in Japan, and Nitra in Slovakia. In addition, our Australian sister city of Walgett (located west of the dividing range in NSW) joined the conference and met with members of the delegations from Edogawa and Nitra. All four councils continue to enhance relationships between their citizens to promote awareness and understanding of business, cultural, economic, educational, industrial, sporting and tourism opportunities; as well as promoting excellence in local government, business and other fields through exchange and communication. During July 2008, twenty teenage ambassadors from Edogawa Youth Wing came to Gosford. Narara Valley High School and local families once again proudly welcomed their special guests to their school, homes and community. The young people enjoyed the always popular Australian Reptile Park and the Gosford-Edogawa Commemorative Garden. The visits continue to offer local students and their families the opportunity to learn about sister cities on a very personal level as they share each other’s culture, exploring language skills and developing new relationships.
The Gosford Regional Gallery continues to play an important role in promoting Aboriginal culture and reconciliation. This year, 289 Aboriginal students from Years 5 to 11 created murals at the gallery in support of NAIDOC Week. The annual Reconciliation Exhibition saw a large increase in the number of entries. The gallery, through its artist networking program, has mentored two groups of artists to develop a group exhibition based on themes chosen by local artists. The two themes are ‘Age, Aging and Ageism’ and ‘Suburbia’.
A production presenting the ten best scripts enjoyed a week long season at the intimate Peninsula Theatre in Woy Woy. The Short+Sweet Short Play Festival, an initiative of Council and totally local production, is now in its third year. This festival provides the opportunity for local writers, directors, actors and theatre practitioners to engage with other members of the cultural community through the creative process. The 2008 festival, presented in July, attracted sixtyfive script submissions. A production presenting the ten best scripts enjoyed a week long season at the intimate Peninsula Theatre in Woy Woy. Guest judges for the festival included John Bell and Mark Cleary, creator of Short+Sweet. The winning play was placed into the finals in the Sydney Short+Sweet Festival with a chance to
compete with some of the country’s finest. Gosford is the only regional centre in Australia that produces a Short+Sweet Short Play Festival. The lantern procession on Australia Day 2009 attracted thousands of spectators. People from many walks of life and cultural backgrounds experienced an Aboriginal smoking ceremony and carried lanterns despite the rainy weather. Aboriginal elders blessed the walkers and dignitaries who joined the procession. The Cultural Laboratory continues to gather all art forms together for an evening of lively presentations and public discussion. This grassroots program of quarterly meetings at the Peninsula Theatre successfully attracted more than one hundred local artists, cultural practitioners and cultural groups to express their ideas and expose their art over twenty five presentations. Each presentation is recorded and archived in DVD format for future cultural reference. The ticket entry to the two and a half hour show remains extremely accessible with a free supper offered during interval. Council continued to support the cultural community via the distribution of the 2008/2009 Community, Cultural and Festival Grants. Twenty-six cultural groups benefited from more than $114,000. As an outcome, the broader community was enriched with original theatrical productions; film festivals; contemporary art exhibitions; Aboriginal art workshops; youth, orchestral and multicultural initiatives in music; recognition and celebration of dance; and projects marking important social celebrations including Harmony Day and International Women’s Day. Council provided several cultural programs for the support and development of the arts community. Visual artists benefited from twentythree exhibitions held at the Gosford Regional Gallery including five solo