Alex Wisser

Alex Wisser

Artist, Creative Producer – Cementa Arts Festival


Session title

Shifting Cement The story of how a place based arts and cultural event helped a “cement town” face change


In 1914 the cement factory that Kandos was built around first started production. From those initial years, Kandos’ cement factory went on to become the town that “helped build NSW”. Decade after decade, the cement factory was at the heart of both the state’s growth and the town’s prosperity. Yet in 2011, only three years shy of its hundredth birthday, the factory closed, a victim of economic reality. In a further blow to Kandos and the wider region’s economic prospects, the Centennial Coal mine closed in 2015. With the town’s two primary employers having shut, the town’s existence was in question.

In this session, Alex Wisser the Cementa Arts Festival Co Founder and current Creative Director will take us through how the festival has gone on to be a 365 day contributor to the regeneration of Kandos and the wider region


Alex lives and works in regional NSW in the town of Kandos. His practice involves large-scale, long-term projects that reflect place and community. He has been at the heart of creating and developing Cementa Festival and the Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation, both regionally based, socially embedded arts initiatives that work to deliver social and economic benefits to their communities. He has participated in delivering five successful Cementa festivals, giving over 200 artists the opportunity to explore delivering art that is relevant to place and local culture. His work has also included long-term engagements with farming communities seeking to change the culture of farming to more sustainable
methods, which has then led to the formation of several festivals and public
explorations of regenerative farming.

Cementa Festival


First staged in 2012, Cementa Festival has evolved to become Cementa Inc. is an artistcentred and communitydriven regional arts organisation based in Kandos in Central New South Wales (NSW), on Wiradjuri Country.

Cementa’s twoyear cycle of programming combines communityembedded contemporary practice, First Nations leadership, and strategic initiatives addressing issues relevant to regional communities such as social and economic renewal, land regeneration, and climate resilience. Cementa’s vision connects regional arts communities with peers across Australia, through an annual program of residencies, exhibitions, and special projects, culminating in a flagship biennial festival.

Cementa’s aims are driven by our unwavering commitment, passion, and drive to seed and support a robust and thriving regional arts ecology. We do this by tailoring, testing, and implementing strategies that address the unique challenges and potentials of the regional cultural context, fostering regional artists and community through a breadth of activities that culminate in the most innovative and culturally relevant, regional arts festival in Australia.

Cementa Arts Festival