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art and culture

From renowned collections of antiquities and Australian art to writers’ workshops, cutting-edge contemporary theatre and stellar music programs, culture and the arts are ubiquitous in the New England.

You’ll find there’s always something inspirational going on in the region’s museums and galleries and on any number of stages and screens.

In Armidale, for instance, at the University of New England (UNE), there are museums and collections embracing art, classical archaeology, local history, zoology, botany, geology, Asian musical instruments, manuscripts and rare books. In terms of their diversity, scale and significance, they are a unique resource in regional New South Wales. In fact, the university’s Museum of Antiquities, open to the public on weekdays, is the only regional ancient history and archaeology museum in Australia.

Music, both classical and contemporary, contributes enormously to the region’s cultural vibrancy. The old Teachers College is home to the New England Conservatorium and the UNE Department of Music, which nurture the Armidale Symphony Orchestra, Armidale Youth Orchestra, Fiori Musicali and many choral and other musical groups.

The calendar is full of musical events, including a biennial Bach Festival, Musica Viva, a month-long Eisteddfod program, Tenterfield’s Wintersong and Bavarian Music Festival, the Australian Celtic Festival in Glen Innes and performances by the New England Conservatorium.

Drama and musical productions are another flourishing dimension of the High Country’s rich performing arts scene. Theatres are rarely dark here with amateur and professional companies, UNE Theatre Studies, schools and colleges producing shows, and high-profile touring companies, such as Oz Opera and Sydney Theatre Company stopping by on their national tours.

Armidale’s newest performing arts venue, the Hoskins Centre, is a creative arts complex with a state-of-the-art theatre, rehearsal rooms, art studios and exhibition space. Hoskins is home base for local fledging professional theatre company Felt Tip, the Armidale Drama & Musical Society and the Armidale branch of the Association of Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (ADFAS). The Armidale School (TAS) recently threw open the centre’s doors to the wider community and now offers a varied public arts program of theatre, music and visual arts.

The New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale is an enjoyable and inspiring place for visitors of all ages to while away couple of hours. The museum is the custodian of around 5000 works of art, including the Howard Hinton, Chandler Coventry and NERAM collections.

There are some extraordinarily varied performing arts groups in the region. The country’s oldest Arts Council, the Glen Innes Arts Council, presents choral performances, plays, musicals and art house films in the Chapel Theatre, a former church. Another of the highlights on the arts calendar in the region is Tenterfield’s 4-day Oracle of the Bush event. Perhaps the most remarkable is the Ngwao Letshwao Performing Arts group in Inverell, a troupe of young singers and dancers from Botswana.

Armidale • Glen Innes • Guyra • Inverell • Tenterfield • Uralla • Walcha