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Arts-Matter signs up the culturally curious

Arts-Matter signs up the culturally curious


Arts-Matter is a cultural community program that hosts a series of intimate programs with creative minds, making art, music, film and theatre more accessible to the public.

Arts-Matter co-founders Michelle Grey and Susan Armstrong caught up with Australian Design Review to discuss their shared commitment to fostering a deeper understanding of art’s impact on society. Working with Art Gallery NSW, Sydney Contemporary, VIVID and other credible arts and cultural associations, they have disrupted the arts community and merged the world of art with interiors, fashion, theatre and music.

Arts-Matter is both a membership platform and a creative studio programming events, curating art installations and exhibitions, activating brands, hosting creative workshops, writing content and bringing hospitality venues to life. The team enjoys championing both established and emerging creatives.

“The core tenets of our organisation are culture, creativity and community – everything we do feeds into the mission of bringing people together who share a curiosity about what’s going on in the cultural space,” says Grey.

“Our community is based on psychographics rather than demographics – we coalesce around a shared interest in culture and a passion for supporting the arts, bringing together people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, genders and professions. 

“Whether you are 25 or 85, if you’re culturally curious and have a keen interest in the arts, Arts-Matter is the perfect place for you to meet like-minded people and discover Australia’s most exciting creative talent.”

Both Armstrong and Grey share a culturally curious career lineage. Having worked in New York for 17 years, Grey was a membership manager at the socially elite private club Soho House and has a LinkedIn profile that reads like a Wes Anderson location shoot. 

“I was fortunate enough to have worked at some pretty interesting places,” Grey admits. 

“I was the head of membership at Soho House NY, I co-founded a cultural co-working space called NeueHouse, was the head of programming for The New York Times, and was the global creative director and curator of Absolut Vodka’s art platform. 

“During my time in NY, I’ve collaborated with some amazing creatives. I curated an art exhibition with Wu-Tang Clan, worked with Ai Weiwei and Takashi Murakami on editioned prints, published a book for the New York Times with famed fashion photographer Brigitte Lacombe, and programmed hundreds of talks, performances and screenings with everyone from Bill Clinton to Jane Goodhall, Wes Anderson, Spike Lee, John Legend, Nicole Kidman and Grace Jones.”

Armstrong’s journey in the advertising, arts and cultural sector took her on a ten-year trip via Tokyo, allowing her to connect with her Japanese heritage while founding a successful fashion sales and distribution agency.  

“Studying design, then beginning my career in the corporate world of advertising, I art-directed at some of the country’s biggest agencies such as Lowe and Saatchi,” she says.

“Fashion then came calling, as well as a desire to connect with my Japanese heritage. Teaming up with a super cool fashion PR team, I opened a sales and distribution agency in Tokyo that ran for over 10 years. We worked with all the great Aussie, New Zealand and UK labels of the day and met an incredible amount of amazing creatives and artists. At the same time, I continued freelancing, working with galleries, fashion brands, hospitality and magazines before moving into music.” 

Following her time in Tokyo, Armstrong moved back to Sydney and specialised in music events such as Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival.

When Armstrong and Grey first worked together at Absolut Art and curated a week of programming they garnered first-hand experience for the appetite Sydney had for cultural curation of events and decided to launch Arts-Matter to meet the needs of the culture vultures. 

After working with the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair on a series of talks and parties this month, Arts-Matter has a lot to look forward to. 

Grey recounts the series of work that has the calendar filling up fast for Arts-Matter and its members. 

“We’re curating the art for a new Japanese restaurant an AI Digital exhibition at Piermarq Gallery, a painting party with Perrier Jouet, activations for South by Southwest Sydney, curated art trips, the launch of our new annual publication A-M Journal, and of course a steady stream of monthly cultural events for our members including artist dinners, talks, studio and gallery tours and performances.” 

If you’re keen to find out more check out Arts-Matter and sign up for their series of membership exclusives. 

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