A tailor-made approach builds better regional artists
From Birdsville to Brisbane and Weipa to Warwick, regional Queensland is as vast as it is geographically diverse, making a single approach to regional arts development nearly impossible.
Recognizing that communities in each region differ, as do their needs, the Regional Arts Services Network (RASN) was established in 2018 to stimulate creative capacity and connect artists and arts organizations in the Queensland region.
In doing so, RASN’s network of dedicated service providers fosters opportunities to tell unique Queensland stories while simultaneously strengthening ties with audiences across the state.
âCurrently, Queensland has been divided into eight different networks – eight different regions across Queensland. And over the past three years we’ve been led a lot by local people in those regions, doing projects that match what people want to see in their region and that are relevant to their particular region, âexplained Michelle Blair, the regional arts manager. for South West Queensland.
Blair, who works in the state SARN coordination office at Empire Theaters in Toowoomba, said the requirements for each region can differ significantly.
âFor the South West region, for example, we definitely took the approach that it was really about building capacity within cities and local communities. We wanted to make sure that the artists who actually lived in this area were supported and developed so that they could continue to live here and continue to give back to their community, âshe told ArtsHub.
Elsewhere, regional arts officers could play a larger role in production, while helping with capacity building but mainly focusing on a more hands-on approach.
âIt all comes down to the size of the area,â Blair said. âAs you can imagine, going from a very densely populated area like the Sunshine Coast in the west to the Blackall-Tambo area, the needs are very different. And because we’re local, we can actually have these conversations and find projects that work best for those areas, âshe said.
DEVELOP DIVERSIFIED ARTISTIC RESULTS
The Regional Arts Services Network’s approach to increasing artistic engagement in the Queensland region has seen a wide range of projects launched since the inception of RASN in 2018, including a strong focus on cultural tourism and numerous music events in direct.
âOver the past 12 months, for example, the Sunshine Coast, Noosa, Gympie and Redlands area has seen the presentation of the Live and Local program, which focused on capacity building from a local music perspective,â said Blair explained.
âThere was a range of professional development opportunities under this program, but there were also micro-festivals in each of these regions, where local artists had the opportunity to perform – either in venues. places they had never been connected with before or in venues that had never done live music before.
Nor are such programs focused only on artists and audiences. Instead, they help foster a long-term future for live music in the regions through a tiered approach.
âThe Live and Local program also aims to help these local councils develop policies and procedures that support and actually help develop the music industry in these areas,â said Blair.
Other projects supported by RASN have focused heavily on achieving solid artistic results.
âI worked with a fantastic group based at the Surat Aboriginal Corporation in the Maranoa region who wanted to develop an Aboriginal cultural festival, the first of its kind in this far western region. It was based on the Southwest Native Cultural Trail, which goes from Dirranbandi to St. George, Surat, Roma, Charleville and Cunamulla, so it brings all of these communities together, âsaid Blair.
âThey had a fantastic showcase in September and RASN worked with them helping them get access to producers who could actually help do development work with the performers, so when it came to performing at the event they had a high quality product to share. ‘
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
Between 2018 and 2020, RASN supported more than 220 regional art projects across the state, creating 1,189 job opportunities for artists, 16% of which are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
In financial terms, over $ 1.16 million has gone directly to artists and arts workers through RASN programming, with the initiative as a whole being supported by Arts Queensland.
Each RASN provider also plays a key role in tackling isolation by connecting artists in their region, thus strengthening Queensland’s regional networks. The projects are also not limited by the art form.
âGalleries, museums, performing arts, theater, writing, fashion – we support the full spectrum of the creative industries,â said Blair.
While the first three years of the network focused on individual artists and the communities in which they live, the project continues to evolve.
“Making sure we know who is out there, what they are doing and how we can help them work and continue to grow and prosper is what we have really focused on for the past three years. “said Blair.
âThe longer term plan for us, in line with Arts Queensland’s 10-year creative roadmap, is that audience development will begin to play an increasingly important role over the next two years. “
Simultaneously, RASN will continue to support artists and organizations through its series of professional development webinars and related projects, enriching the state as a whole.
“It’s about making these regional areas feel more connected and Queensland feeling a little smaller,” Blair said.
âWe want everyone to feel like you can talk to the person in the next town. And if they are like-minded souls, then there should be no obstacle preventing them from connecting with each other and helping each other. The regional network of artistic services can certainly help to strengthen these connection points. ‘
Learn more about the Regional artistic services network.