The popular musical “Chicago” was recently staged again in Armidale. The poor husband in it has a song, “I’m Mr. Cellophane – no-one knows my name …” Sometimes I feel Armidale is rather like him – the great things seem ignored elsewhere. Why?
This FOCUS issue is “going to bed” early because of the many holidays, so no comments on very current happenings … Election No. 2 anyone? We need to trust our politicians, and we need them to trust us.
Saddened to see a recent draft Tourism Council paper had local culture relegated to a supplementary group, Tier 2. Culture covers the whole gamut of life, though usually implying arts activities, rather than, e.g. a strong “sports culture” (sport is Tier 1). Many people, in fact, live here because of the easily accessible diverse range of cultural activities. It’s impossible to quantify the cumulative economic effect of all the cultural groups that are such a dominant, attractive feature of life in Armidale. The arts are accepted as one of the “loved and valued” foundations of this country’s culture and indeed of a truly civilized community. Statistics say more Australians attend arts events than attend sporting events.
From the Messiah to Singin’ in the Rain, they’re performed locally. Writers, artists, sculptors, actors, musicians of all kinds from orchestral to live music, the calendar is packed as many of us rush from one thing to another … recently to the talented Youth Orchestra playing and to lunch under the trees of lovely old Chevy Chase garden was special … eminent gallery NERAM’s latest opening … NERAMble’s Country Garden fundraiser … Gallery 126’s curated exhibition of local artists … “Favourite Shorts” plays … on and on …
Professor Michael Adams, Head of UNE’s Law School, gave a thought-provoking overview of the recent Royal Commission into Banking in the Town Hall. Professor Adams reduced the results to a simple requirement: “Doing the right thing – and doing things right – is a key principle in corporate governance”. That is, surely, what we should expect from all our leaders.
Talking of UNE, it’s “achieved the highest rating of 5 (well above world standard) in 18 disciplines, including Environmental Science, Agriculture and Mathematics” in the
@arc.gov.au report recently released. UNE is indispensable for us. A new chapter begins when a new Vice-Chancellor replaces our retiring VC, Annabelle Duncan, after contributing her chapter. Chancellor James Harris has been renewed for another five years. Be aware that appointments to University Council can be crucial.
Armidale’s Central Mall is such a joy when it’s bustling with crowds, music, artists and activities, the last one the literally glowing Colours of New England, a new arts festival it’s hoped will grow and develop. Watching the crowds, it promises much for the future. To fully utilise the Central Mall, we need to see it as a dynamic “Eat Street” Town Square, dotted with specialist shops, importantly adapting opening hours to match demand times and drawing people to community events.
Busy with community life and business, we’re surrounded by agricultural businesses and national parks. A recent metropolitan headline read “New farmers crave better training, higher-tech jobs”. UNE stands ready in multiple ways and has now won the Future Food Systems CRC. I’m looking forward to a “special evening” showcasing UNE’s Farm of the Future at the Sydney Royal – so much impressive research creating tomorrow now. Adam Marshall, our emphatically returned State Member, is now State Minister for Agriculture. We’re at the “pointy” end.
Recently Professor David Lamb was a passionate speaker at the NE Visions 2030 initiative. He’s spearheaded precision agriculture development, leading the SMART Farm project and evaluating new digital agricultural technologies. Exciting stuff. He’s Chief Scientist of the Food Agility CRC, working to “transform the Australian food system to ensure sustainability”. The aim is to impact the agrifood sector, adding “$24.6 billion to the GDP”.
NE Visions 2030, conceived and run by Maria Hitchcock OAM, Dr. Sandra Welsman and
Carole Fullalove, gives attendees the opportunity to hear and question important speakers affecting our region. A very worthwhile initiative.
Meanwhile, some of us were lucky to get that recent rain, reminding us that, yes, it can happen!