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In 1973, Riversdale celebrated its Centenary and a group of local women organised an Art and Craft Exhibition to coincide with the event. A new Community Centre was being built as a Centennial project and they felt it should be a place for the arts as well.  A steering committee was set up with the mission statement ‘The aim to help establish the Community Centre – The Theatre and the Arts should be an integral part of Community life and not performed in isolation’. Art and craft classes started at the local school until 1987 when our own art rooms were purchased.These are now used for many activites especially at Exhibition time. Over the first 25 years a large variety of productions have been presented from musicals, one act plays to locally written shows. In recent years the drama has been undertaken by the Balfour Theatre Group.


1974 – First art course at school part of Southland Polytechnic Off Campus Department with 32 participants.

1982 – We are nominated ‘Club of the Year’ in Southland and win 2nd place nationally

1987 – We purchase former Milkbar from ANZ Bank. A derelict building we converted into our current art rooms.

1998 –‘ Celebration of Southland’ Medallion and Certificate for Services to the Arts, History of group featured in Otago & Southland Encyclopedia.

2000 – Prime Minister & Minister of Arts, Helen Clark opened the Exhibition.

2013 – Celebrated 40 years. Pinky Agnew was our guest speaker.

2014 – Outstanding Contribution to the Arts of Southland – Commitment to bringing nationally recognised artists to their exhibition and fostering interest and enthusiasm for Art across Southland.

2015 – Trustpower Regional Community Award – Arts and Culture

2017 – Guest artist Stephen Martyn Welch paints portrait of Jim Geddes the Gore Districts arts and heritage curator.  The portrait is purchased by the Mataura Licensing Trust who then presents it to Jim Geddes to be displayed in the Eastern Southland Art Gallery.

2018 – We celebrated our 45th annual exhibition, with an installation collaboration between cake artist Jude Taylor and artist Janet de Wagt - the theme of the installation was celebrating the past of the Riversdale Community.  We also exhibited 3 extreme cakes by cake artists Tammie Mahwhinney, Kathryn Wright and Brittany Thurston.

2019 - Sale of Guest Artist Ben Foster's sculpture for $18,000.
2020 - Covid 19 prevented us from holding a physical exhibition so we held a Virtual Exhibition instead.

2021 - Renata Karena a Tattoo Artist from Queenstown was our guest artist, he held a pop-up studio for the duration of the exhibition. Renata also won the award for most popular artist at the exhibition by public vote.

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