Kim Nelson takes a step back from YASSarts

Kim Nelson has stepped down from YASSarts after 10 years of work. Photo: Therese van Leeuwen.
Kim Nelson has stepped down from YASSarts after 10 years of work. Photo: Therese van Leeuwen.

Kim Nelson, creator of YASSarts and one of the chief organisers behind ‘YASSarts SPRING!' told the Tribune he will be stepping down from community activities at the end of this year’s events, for the foreseeable future.

Nelson has been developing the YASSarts website over the past 10 years, however in 2009 YASSarts started being instrumental in mounting arts and cultural events in the region. His past careers have been in the field of graphic design and marketing and then for over 10 years as a manager/curator of museums and galleries. For the last 18 years now, Nelson has pursued a career in fine art.

In February 2010 he gave a presentation to Yass Valley Council about the potential of cultural tourism in the region with the proposal that the YASSarts website be taken on by council as part of a cultural tourism initiative. Though this was not possible, council applauded the YASSarts project and encouraged Nelson to apply for community funding.

The inception of CLASSIC YASS and the YASSarts Arts Trail happened collaterally; the Arts Trail being the idea of Nelson’s friend and fellow YASSarts collaborator, Al Phemister. It has to grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years.

Into the mix went Nelson’s personal project, the Oddfellows Hall in Yass. In mid 2010 he turned this historic building into an ‘open studio’ style gallery. 

"From a cultural tourism point of view I felt it was something the town could do with and I had the opportunity to do it, so I did," Nelson said.

From mid 2010 to early 2014 Oddfellows' played host to a diverse array of events ranging from book launches, concerts and poetry performances, as well as being the artist’s personal gallery.

Ultimately the success of the venture was to be the artist’s undoing as it became increasingly hard for him to get artworks done.  In March this year he moved out of Oddfellows and in July YASSarts took on the lease of the property as a community arts centre, featuring changing exhibitions, highlighting arts practitioners of the local region.

Nelson was awarded ‘Citizen of the Year’ in 2013 for his work in the community and, specifically, for his work with YASSarts.

“The truth is, it should have been a joint award because, when it comes to YASSarts events, Al Phemister is pretty much the ‘engine room’.  Sculpture in the Paddock is proof of that,” the artist said.

YASSarts has achieved a lot over just a few years - from lobbying local government to creating links with other regional arts bodies.  It has staged events, school’s programs and organised workshops and developed promotional displays such as the one at the Yass Valley Visitor’s Information Centre.  The initiative has seconded constant media attention, supported local council in developing a Public Arts Committee, and has also developed significant sponsorship for arts and culture in the region.

Early this year YASSarts developed a committee chaired by Alex Tewes who has been instrumental in steering YASSarts towards incorporation.  So why is Nelson stepping down now?

“It’s a self preservation thing!” the artist said. 

“I’ve got my own work to take care of and there are now others to drive this thing.  I will still help look after the website and social media. YASSarts is about linking people together, making connections and harnessing the regions arts & culture assets”.

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