Co-creating the RAPP: What it looked like from inside | Part three
The Regional Arts Partnership Program is a new form of arts funding and program development, created by Country Arts WA over the last three years in consultation with the regional arts sector. It brings together regional and Perth organisations to create themed “clusters”, which network people and resources from everywhere in WA to create programs that meet the needs and priorities of regional communities.
Here’s how Kirsty Duffy Coordinator at Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council found the experience, taking charge of the Dance Cluster:
The RAPP offered a fantastic opportunity for Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council (RRAC), a fairly small regional arts organisation, to be able to take the lead on a state-wide project.
In the initial stages, it was important for the cluster to meet face to face as a group, and in fact the three face to face meetings throughout the co-creation period were very beneficial. Our organisation was relatively unknown. The other cluster members may have heard of us, but in the dance world – which is what this collaboration centered on empowering and improving – who were we? By getting to know each other, we understood the relevance and the impact of each other’s regional projects. It was vital that we did not lose connection from each other. Because each of our community’s needs were so different, the overall connection between hubs needed to retain familiarity which helped us move forward as a Cluster.
Through the co-creation’s intermittent in-person contact (via phone, GoToMeeting, Skype and email correspondence) our relationship with Ausdance WA strengthened and our working relationship is open and honest. We have a great connection with MANPAC and we can advocate for the fantastic work that they are achieving in their regional dance community. We are hopeful that a cross pollination event may occur between the Great Southern and Ravensthorpe region.
As coordinator for this Cluster I did not anticipate the value of the network that developed and the value of communications within.
There were challenges. Volunteer time was required from some individuals who were not in a paid role. In a pilot project there can sometimes be a little hesitation on how much time to put into a project in the early stages, not knowing what may or may not eventuate.
It is my opinion that the RAPP coordinator for the cocreation project needed to be a regional artist or organisation vested within the project. This gave the regions ownership of the project. The coordinator needed to be able to relate to regional communities and advocate and drive for outcomes in the regions. By having the guidelines written that 80% of funds must be spent regionally we had the confidence that this would be a regionally driven project with outcomes in the regions. We also required support from a peak body invested in the world of contemporary dance. Ausdance WA’s knowledge and advice was absolutely vital in developing connections between RRAC and the Cluster members that were already more connected to dance practice, and with dance artists beyond the Cluster.
Having this unique funding model to scope out this multi-working group project meant that corners were not cut, and the ongoing project would not be jeopardized. Ideas could be explored, and waters could be tested. The core group could build trust. Through professional development, project managers were upskilled in anticipation of the project roll out. Trial residencies were proven extremely valuable – there is less pressure moving forward as projects now are launched. Being able to explore ideas without fear of failure and without staying within strict funding guideline parameters meant that projects were tailored completely to the needs of regional communities. The best ideas are the ones that you can explore without fear.
We were able to communicate effectively via email. We also held go-to meetings and skype meetings which meant we remained connected. In hindsight, another face to face contact for our whole Cluster towards the end of co-creation would have been valuable; to re-connect and hear the small victories and reflections which are often forgotten.
To reflect, it has been interesting being part of this unique funding allocation process. If a similar process was ever to reoccur, we would welcome professional development on critiquing and validating projects, how to determine where to best trim budgets and make project cut backs without losing the integrity of a project, and how to identify where a project does not align with required objectives. Also access to conflict resolution toolkits or guidelines, in case an issue did arise.
In summary, through the co-creation of the RAPP, we have determined that communities will differ in their needs. I am confident that the working group in our Cluster is an excellent representation of regional communities. We are dedicated to developing sustainable strategies and models that will be reported on and utilized to assist other regional communities with the same or similar needs. I am looking forward to watching the progress unfold and building templates that will empower others to achieve their own community needs.
To find out more about the project May We Have this Dance? Click here
“I experienced a very consultative and collaborative approach with all people involved in the scoping phase. I enjoyed the networking experience with people I had not previously met and learnt a lot about their aspirations for this project and the needs of their community/group. Even though there is great distances between all parties involved we have all been kept in the loop through meetings in person and via email and teleconferencing so that the distance has not been an issue. This was achieved through a well organised coordinator.”
Jill Cross, Chairperson – Dardanup Bull and Barrel Festival.