City of Newcastle and University expand region’s art and culture commitment

28 Feb 2024

City of Newcastle and the University of Newcastle have today announced a new cultural partnership that will see the two organisations working together to expand the region's art capabilities. 

The four-year partnership marks a significant milestone for both institutions, expanding the two organisations’ commitment to supporting arts and culture in the region, while providing students with valuable educational experience. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky celebrate the new partnershipLord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Vice Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky celebrate the partnership.   

As work on the expansion of the Newcastle Art Gallery continues, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was the perfect time to formalise the relationship between the institutions for the benefit of the region’s communities, its visitors and a new generation of students.

“As part of the partnership, the community will benefit from shared spaces, while students across various disciplines including architecture, visual communication, business, and tourism courses will have the opportunity to undertake Career-Ready Placements,” Cr Nelmes said. 

"The students will have the opportunity to learn while shadowing staff through all aspects of gallery operations. Students can learn about exhibitions, while business students will understand more about retail and commercial activities.  

"The gallery will benefit from the University’s academic expertise and resources, while building relationships with students who bring fresh ideas and perspectives to foster growth with new audiences. 

"It is a partnership that will ultimately enrich our city's future cultural and academic landscape."

A First Nations cadetship has also been established to provide career ready opportunities in Cultural stewardship in the arts.

University of Newcastle's Vice Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO, welcomed the four-year agreement with Newcastle Art Gallery, acknowledging the shared interests and goals of both institutions.

"Newcastle Art Gallery and the University of Newcastle share a common commitment to cultivating creativity and innovation in the region," Professor Zelinsky said.

"This special, collaborative partnership will help us to deliver real-world, professional experience to equip our students with career-ready skills, which we believe is key to their future success.

“The students will not only graduate with a degree but will take away real-life experience from working with the gallery. They will have the opportunity to build connections with the knowledgeable team which will help them find a career they love in the future.

"We are proud to be one of the first institutions in Australia to embed this type of Career-Ready Placements within all undergraduate degree programs and are fortunate to have a network of supportive organisations and businesses like Newcastle Art Gallery that are equally passionate about providing our students with real-world experience." 

In addition to the students' professional placements, Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton, OAM, said both institutions would enjoy many shared benefits.

"We look forward to the educational and creative opportunities that this partnership will bring," Ms Morton said.

"We envision future collaborations across complementary exhibits, research and parallel programming, as well as the opportunity to learn from each other."

Newcastle Art Gallery was Australia's first purpose-built regional gallery. It has been at the heart of the city's rich cultural heritage for over 40 years and is home to one of the most significant art collection in regional Australia.

University of Newcastle’s University Galleries Art Curator, Gillean Shaw echoed Lauretta’s sentiment.

“Our art galleries are renowned for contemporary exhibitions and our Watt Space city gallery is the longest-running student gallery in Australia. This partnership will allow us to work together to create more opportunities for our students and our shared communities to experience artistic diversity and extraordinary creativity.”