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Q&A with NCCA Director Maurice O'Riordan

Nestled in Parap, The Northern Centre for Contemporary Art (NCCA) is a shining light in the Australian Contemporary Art Scene. NCCA's Director Maurice O’Riordan took some time to chat to Off The Leash about the work of this vital Territory institution. 

When was NCCA established?

The gallery official opened its doors on April Fool's day 1990 but a lobby group to form the gallery originated the year before.

What is the vision and core values of NCCA? 

To develop and present high-calibre contemporary art exhibitions which cultivate NT talent and contribute to regional and national dialogue, especially critical dialogue, and I think NCCA's vision and core values have remained consistent with this over the past 25-plus years. The name change from 24hr Art to NCCA in 2013 emphasises our regional outlook, the fact that we are based in Australia's northernmost capital and looking north to Southeast Asia rather than blindly mimicking the south.

How many artists and regions have had their work showcased?

Wow, it would be good to know the exact number of artists – one day I'll work it out, but definitely in the thousands. Our reach within the region has been quite strong with international representation mostly focused on Southeast Asia;domestically, we prioritise our own region (the NT and Top End more broadly) but aim for a fairly equitable national representation as well.

How do you develop your program each year? 

It's a combination of proposals from artists and curators and projects that we initiate in-house. We generally work six months to a year in advance but we also like to be responsive to immediate events/issues and our public programs can also function more organically in this way. 

What sets NCCA apart? 

We're the only independent public gallery in the NT dedicated to contemporary art; our unique location and demographic and the way that we embrace and interpret this, is also one of our key distinctions.  

What's coming up for NCCA in 2017? 

Well, hopefully some more funding certainty – it's certainly a much trickier business running a gallery and planning a program without enough multiyear funding. Program wise, Artmart 2017 – our annual feast of mostly local/NT talent – is our next cab off the ranks and our Darwin Festival offering this year will be sure to get tongues wagging, a portrait and painting based show with Therese Ritchie (Darwin) and Jacky Green (Borroloola) on Aboriginal sovereignty in the face of open cut mining.

NCCA is open Wed–Fri, 10am-4pm and Sat 10am-2pm | Vimy Lane, Parap | nccart.com.au 

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