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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.

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 city’s cultural vibrancy, which comes as no surprise given that the University’s distinguished music department has a history of international significance. 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, and a month-long Eisteddfod program. Orchestras, rock and jazz bands, and world-renowned musicians of all ages perform at NECOM and other venues, including UNE, licensed clubs and pubs, heritage buildings and wineries.

Drama and musical productions are another flourishing dimension of the city’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 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. 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. Professional productions by some of Australia’s most exciting companies, such as the Sydney Theatre Company, have featured in the annual season program. Hoskins is also 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). With its stylish, convenient facilities and welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder Hoskins is also a popular venue for conferences, functions, workshops, lectures and art exhibitions.

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.

Armidale • New England High Country