Interview: Marisa Snow, Artstate Arts Program Director

5 Oct 2017 /

Marisa Snow is a Creative Producer with 15 years experience in site-specific events and arts management. She’s worked with the likes of NORPA, Splendour in the Grass, Sydney Festival, Darwin Festival and Belvoir Street Theatre to name a few. Over the past three years Marisa has specialised in place-making and activation of public space, delivering large scale placemaking projects for Byron Shire Council, Bellingen Council and Creative Road Art Projects, and was recently appointed ast the Placemaking Officer for the new Lismore Quadrangle site at the Lismore Regional Gallery.
To add another feather in her cap, Marisa is the inaugural Artstate’s Arts Program Director. We had a chat to Marisa about how she developed Artstate Lismore’s program, and what it’s like living and working in Northern NSW.

What inspired you to work in the arts?

I wasn’t any good at maths or sciences! I guess in essence I’m driven by creating something that subverts people from their ‘everyday’. Whether it’s being immersed in a festival, or going to a kick-arse theatre show – the arts gives us a reason to get out of our own heads and bodies and view the world through a different prism and I love being part of that. My process is formed around collaborations – whether it’s with the community or artists or both. I love the exhilaration of a large scale project coming together that sometimes literally started as a scribble on a piece of paper. I particularly love watching the effect works have on audiences, when I go to a show I spend my time watching the audience not the stage!

What’s it like putting together an Arts Program for the Northern Rivers? How did you curate the program?

We are lucky that we have such a diverse and thriving community of artists here to work with, choosing only a few to perform is the hardest part! I saw programming Artstate as an opportunity for Northern Rivers’ artists to further develop their practice and to provide a rare platform to perform their work for a national arts audience. With funding opportunities disappearing before our eyes it is exceptionally difficult for artists to be able to develop and present work particularly in regional areas where there are very limited presenting venues. What that does mean thought is that artists have to diversify their practice and not necessarily wait for a successful funding application or a venue to program their work, which can result in a work being potentially more accessible and unique, which I personally think is a positive.
In approaching this program I tried to focus on artists and companies that are developing work that is pushing their processes and art forms and are gaining a national profile; thereby demonstrating that work made regionally is without doubt as successful and relevant as work derived out of metropolitan centres.

What’s it like working regionally in Northern NSW?

I love it. There’s a hunger for story and connection here that I feel is not as apparent in the larger cities. I feel that we are more willing to take risks – creatively and in general. As industries are smaller and therefore employment opportunities are less I feel that people that choose to live here tend to be entrepreneurs and aren’t afraid of stepping out on a limb no matter what their profession. Also the fantastic thing about the Northern Rivers is you don’t move to one place you move to a series of places. On a daily basis you can oscillate from having a country experience in the hinterland to basking in the magnificent waterholes and rivers to sucking up some of Byron’s beach culture.

Image: TORA are set to play live at Artstate Lismore


There’s an exciting live music & performance aspect to the Arts Program, can you tell us a bit about that?

When you think about how many musicians from this region have gone on to major success it really is quite astounding – Parkway Drive, TORA, Parcels and Grinspoon to name just a few. Events like Splendour in the Grass and Mullum Music Festival have contributed hugely to providing a platform for local musicians to gain national exposure. Unfortunately we don’t have similar platforms for all arts forms in this region, particularly in performance. So with that in mind I devised a program which was designed to provide a platform for artists to develop and perform a new work during Artstate. We provided a ‘seed’ fund amount to three multi-artform works that were ready to be presented to allow them the opportunity to ‘test’ their work and get a much needed run on the board.
The bulk of the music and performance program is happening in Lismore’s new outdoor performance space – The Quadrangle. It will be fantastic to kick back and listen to the free live music program and experience the installation works and visual arts program in the amazing and cavernous rooms of the Conservatorium of Music and the newly refurbished Lismore Reginal Gallery.

Are there any projects in the program that stand out for you?

Tough question! They are all great for very different reasons but I am very much looking forward to seeing Sprung’s new dance work, The Overtopping and WHARVES play on the Quad stage.

How would you sum up Artstate Lismore’s program in 5 words?

Diverse, fun, brave, cheeky and colourful!

What’s your top tip for visitors to Lismore and Artstate?

Check out the new Lismore Regional Gallery, wander the streets and alleyways and discover the awesome street art and site-specific interventions that will pop up in the strangest of places.
For more information on the Arts Program and events, click here.
'Share House' by Sprung!!

Image: ‘Share House’ by Sprung!! will be performing as a part of the Artstate Arts Program