Club of the Week – Broken Hill Art Exchange

Broken Hill Art Exchange

In 2001, Susan Thomas had a vision to entice interdisciplinary artists to Broken Hill to, “explore their creative practice and collaborate with the local community,” she says, by providing an exhibition space and budget-friendly accommodation for artist residencies.

She also wanted to provide an avenue for artists to monetise their skills, and to showcase art in all its forms through exhibitions, events, and workshops.

That vision led to the creation of the Broken Hill Art Exchange, and now, with 80 paid members, and 160 friends of the organisation, Susanne Jones told the Truth, “we want the membership to drive what we do and how we support the community”.

A consultation with their members back in November, and a follow-up meeting in January, revealed members are keen to launch projects and initiatives that reflect their artistic abilities on their own accord.

That’s led to one member hosting a beading workshop, a second has launched a monthly drawing club, and a third set-up a quarterly garage sale.

“Members can use our facilities at the Grand on Argent Street and hire spaces for workshops, exhibitions and events, or volunteer to deliver workshops to raise money for the organisation,” Ms Jones said.

The Art Exchange’s task of providing opportunities for artists and community has seen the organisation host low-cost creative community workshops, delivered by Artists in Residence when they visit Broken Hill.

They have also spent the last decade collaborating with the Environmental Research Initiative for Art (ERIA), and the University of NSW, to deliver a program of solar powered artworks called the Desert Equinox.

“This collaboration has expanded to include Landcare Broken Hill and we are working on an event for October 2024 at the Imperial Lakes site,” Ms Jones says.

Another impressive program, Waste 2 Art Broken Hill, was held hand-in-hand with Lifeline Country to Coast Broken Hill and the City Council, with the 2024 program now taking registrations and running workshops.

To add to a busy schedule, next month, the Art Exchange will host West Darling Arts’ event to celebrate the city’s heritage with local artists installing artworks at the Grand.

Amongst this flurry of activity, Ms Jones accepts the dominant challenge for the organisation is finding volunteers, with a number of current volunteers holding down full-time jobs.

To combat this challenge, employing a person full-time “to run and build the residences/accommodation side of the business and bring more creatives to Broken Hill” would allow the exchange to “make more money to support our local artists and community.”

But a focus on voluntary support will remain a central pillar for the Exchange. So much so that Ms Jones said she wanted to invite “creatives in all fields and friends and supporters of the arts” to the organisation.

If you’re interested in joining the Art Exchange check out their website.

This website also provides a calendar of upcoming events, including an exhibition of Karrie Lannstrom, which will be open on  March 27- Wednesday.

An annual membership fee of $25 will provide members with discounts on events, accommodation and venue hire.

With 23 years of history, and with a full diary ahead, the Broken Hill Art Exchange is planning a dynamic program in 2024.

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