OAM honours Courtney Hawke

SO much of what we enjoy as part of Orange’s cultural landscape can be attributed to the efforts and passion of Courtney Hawke.

He was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal in the general division in this year’s Australia Day awards for his contribution to a range of arts organisations.

At the age of 23 and working alongside Eileen Watts, he helped establish the first Orange festival of arts which many say contributed to bringing Orange out of the cultural wilderness.

In 1975 Mr Hawke became a board member of the festival and although the organisation no longer exists, it is a dream that perhaps it will one day have a role to play again, according to Mr Hawke.

Throughout all his endeavours and driven by a huge passion for the arts, particularly the visual sector, it has been his wife Fem who has been at his side.

“Courtney has always been such an ideas man - every day he wakes up with some fantastic new idea - it’s quite inspiring really,” she said.

However, Mr Hawke is humble about the bestowing of the award.

“I am deeply flattered and quite overwhelmed.

“However, I do believe it is a level of recognition that would be equally deserved by any number of people who work in support of the arts and this wonderful community of ours in Orange,” Mr Hawke said.

Whether over the years it has been through his involvement with the Raffins Gallery, the setting up of the ‘tin shed’ on his property to provide a free space for artists to live and work in the 1970s and 1980s, or as a member of the advisory committee for the establishment of the Orange Civic Theatre and Orange Regional Gallery, Mr Hawke’s name has always been prominent.

Mr Hawke has been at the helm of so many wonderful projects and organisations which are the rich tapestry of Orange’s arts and culture.

He says the Orange Regional Arts Foundation is an involvement in which he has felt an enormous satisfaction.

“Since we started 40 years ago we have been able to hand out $500,000 to musicians, dancers, artists, and writers and I am extremely proud of that,” he said.

The key he says to any successful project is surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can help bring an idea to fruition.

“I really like sharing the passion with people who enjoy getting things done,” he said.

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