Zena Armstrong

Zena Armstrong

Director – Cobargo Folk Festival
Committee member – Yuin Folk Club, Cobargo


Session title

Reaching across the aisle – Creating unity in a time it’s needed most.


Having endured fires and floods in recent years, the community of Cobargo has been through its fair share of challenges. Galvanised by those challenges, Cobargo is a community that is working together on the long tail of disaster recovery. From the agricultural society, to the folk club, a variety of community stakeholders from different walks of life have leveraged existing social capital, including local events and assets that for the benefit of the community as a whole. In this session Zena Armstrong (Yuin Folk Club and Cobargo Folk Festival) will take us through how locallymanaged, placebased activity can foster the strengths and connections that help bring a community of varying persuasions together for collective good.


Zena Armstrong has been the Director of the Cobargo Folk Festival since 2016, working with a group of committed local volunteers to create one of the premier cultural events on the Sapphire Coast of NSW. Now in its 28th year, the Cobargo Folk Festival is a threeday celebration of folk and roots music, song, dance and story, nurturing community connectedness and resilience, and supporting postdisaster recovery and healing in the wake of the Black Summer fires.

Awarded the 2023 Australia Day Cobargo Citizen of the Year, Zena is an active community volunteer who is weaving the threads drawn from a long and varied career spanning journalism, diplomacy and her own personal creative practice. Zena’s professional experience includes more than 18 years with the Department of Foreign Affairs, including eight years in China in Beijing and Guangzhou representing Australia’s interests. She stepped away from corporate and government life in 2013.

As Director of the Cobargo Folk Festival she works with a closeknit team of more than 350 volunteers using music, art, dance and the spoken word to support live performance, grow connectedness, nurture creativity and imagine new ways of being. Other volunteer roles include President, Cobargo and District Energy Transition Group Inc., a community coalition trading as RENEWABLE COBARGO to develop and fund a resilient communityowned microgrid in the north of the Bega Valley and encourage adoption of other renewable energy tech; and President of the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund Inc, a communityrun notforprofit fund to help Cobargo recover and regenerate following the 2019/2020 bushfires.

Yuin Folk Club, Cobargo