Wonderful support for arts festival

On behalf of the Lower Clarence Arts and Crafts Association, I am writing to thank the people of the Clarence and particularly people from the Lower River for their support during the 2017 Clarence River Arts Festival which was held at Maclean Show Grounds on the weekend of July 7-9.
We were blessed with truly wonderful weather. While we haven’t yet completed all our counts, it seems likely that we reached our target of 1500 people, including hundreds of children, who visited the Festival over the three days to enjoy and share in the skills of hundreds of local and regional artists and craftspeople. Visitors also got to enjoy fine foods from Clarence Caterers and Farm to Plate Woodfired Pizzas, as well as quilt making, spinning and weaving and jewellery making demonstrations, a great fashion parade of wearable art, crafty market stalls, buskers, including the talented Ryan Kemp, with arts and crafts activities for children, the latter put on by Maclean Scouts. This is only the second year in recent times we have held the Festival at the showgrounds and we feel that the success of the Festival this year reflected the wonderful local support we have had.
There were over 600 entries from all over Australia, but most of them were local, including increasing support from people in the Grafton and Ulmarra areas, enabling us to showcase the truly amazing talents of local people in a competitive environment. We received mass entries in our junior art from local public schools like Chatsworth Island and Ulmarra. Our judges came from near and far and did an excellent job of giving us independent assessments of the skills of our competitors. Our prize money cost us nearly $14,000 out of a total budget of $30,000, and many of our winners were also local, enabling us to return our investment in many cases to local artists and creators.
We had incredible support in the local media, including in your newspaper. We had record levels of sponsorship from local businesses, including Maclean Picture Framing and SPAR which each sponsored a whole section, and Stanford’s Pharmacy, which gives us generous support each year. Fay Boyd gave us a generous scholarship to her art school next year, won by talented local Pam Birrell. There was great support from CVC and another 24 local businesses and individuals, including from Dr Tiley, our Patron, who has promised us $2000 each year for three years.
When the mayor, Jim Simmons, opened the event he reinstated a tradition that enabled Grafton Regional Gallery to acquire an art work for its Lower Clarence Community Art Collection. That work was Malcolm King’s “Birrinba –Mountains to the Sea”. Congratulations go to Malcolm, but thanks also go to Mayor Simmons who has enabled a strong council tradition of supporting local artists to continue.
Many of our members these days are elderly, so we were very pleased and proud that on the Monday after the Festival, the day we had arranged to clean up the showground, help arrived in the form of four lovely, cheerful and strong people from the Lower Clarence Magpies Rugby League club, Belinda and Belinda and their husbands, John and Sam. Now that’s culture and sport working together.
As usual we have of course had great support from the Maclean Pipe Band, which added to the entertainment, and from Brian and Lou Ferrie of the Maclean Show Society, who always do what they can to make things easier for us. Maclean SES volunteers were present for the three days to enable us to deal with any safety incidents, of which there were thankfully none.
We will be publishing a comprehensive list of our prize winners on our website as soon as possible, so readers can find out all the details. www.clarenceriverartsfestival.com.au
Jenny Thomas
President – Lower Clarence
Arts and Crafts Association