Summer is hotting up and so is the pace at the art at the heart conference hub in Alice Springs.

2008 is already shaping up to be a busy year – and a hot one so far. We almost broke the record of thirteen consecutive days over 40 degrees here in Alice, but a 39 snuck in just in time!

While the rest of has been enjoying the Test matches with India, here in Alice we’ve been troubled by our own cricket season. Every year they seem to appear in plague proportions to chew their way through anything in the garden that’s survived the heat.

As for those kangaroos, I spotted five new young males just last week and have been enjoying the sight of a new baby who is starting to emerge from her pouch – she is just big enough to get her head over the rim of the water container!

We had our own art intervention this week “ when local artist Mal Crowley set up a rogue installation of 77 shopping trolleys at the Tom Price Roundabout one morning. The roundabout is right at the entrance of town. This brought the media and police down and prompted an interesting discussion about public space.

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of talking to people from all over the country as I make my way through the overwhelming number of Expressions of Interest from people wanting to contribute in some way to art at the heart in October. Obviously this is a mammoth task but I am thrilled by the number and diversity of projects people are putting together.

It’s really exciting getting phone calls from all around Australia – they have been absolutely inspiring and I’m excited when I hear what people want to do and share from the other regions. The response has been national, with applications coming from every state and from across many cultures. There has been a big response so far from Indigenous artists and arts centres, reflecting the role of Alice Springs as the hub for Indigenous art in Australia.

It’s been clear that Alice as a place has been really working its magic and inspiring people to visit. It’s great to see that many of the applications are seeking to connect with the local community, with lots of proposals for interactive workshops, participatory works, and cultural exchanges.

So I’ve been on the phone, fax and email with a diverse bunch, including local councils, government bodies, arts administrators and artists.

There is also a real swell of excitement from local artists and arts workers about connecting with other practitioners from around the country. It’s going to be a big meeting place for people and I know we’ll build some interesting relationships and collaborations.

I hope that the registrations get as strong a response when they open in April – so don’t forget to watch this space to find out when that happens, and to keep up to date with the plans for what I am sure will be a conference to remember.

Kieren Sanderson is coordinator of art at the heart, Regional Arts Australia’s sixth biennial national conference, to be held in Alice Springs from 3 “ 5 October. The Australian Government supports Regional Arts Australia’s national conferences through the Regional Arts Fund. The Australia Council for the Arts supports the artistic program for the conference. The Northern Territory Government is hosting the conference through Arts NT in collaboration with the Alice Springs Town Council.

Media enquiries: Regional Arts Australia Communications Manager Vivienne Skinner 0411 206 224



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