Connecting the Dots with Regional Arts Hubs

Connecting the Dots with Regional Arts Hubs

Doone McAlary

A whistle-stop trip through the State last month saw two eager staff members traverse approx. 2,492 km up north and down south.

They had the privilege of visiting the four organisations involved in Country Arts WA’s initiative, the Regional Arts Hubs which commenced late-2017.

Barb Howard and Doone McAlary meet with Narrogin locals at ARtS Narrogin.

Network Director Barb Howard and I were extremely fortunate to not only catch-up with each of the Hubs in the fabulous places they call home but also enjoyed hearing from and speaking with community members who attended the advisory meetings: in Broome (for Kimberley Hub, Goolarri Media), Tom Price (for Pilbara Hub, Nintirri Centre), Narrogin (for Wheatbelt Hub, Arts Narrogin) and Margaret River (for South West Hub, Creative Corner).

The advisory meeting was hosted by each Hub with the purpose of inviting wide-ranging representation from their community to address five questions the Board of Country Arts WA supplied. These questions generated vigorous and insightful conversations, and clearly demonstrate arts and culture is very much the heart and backbone of regional Western Australia, reflecting each community’s individuality. Confirming the one-size-fits-all approach is simply not suitable.

In total, conversations were had with 60 individuals comprising volunteers, paid staff, self-employed, hobbyists, and enthusiasts gathered from arts and culture organisations; theatre companies; Aboriginal art centres; individual artists and arts-workers; creative industries; community radio; local government; and Community Resource Centres.

Their responses have been forwarded to the Board, and these will go towards informing strategies for the future direction of our organisation.

One participant stated their long-term goal for the Hub network is “decentralised regional creativity generating global impact.”

Further snippets from those in the regions…

“The local art scene is predominantly unseen, not necessarily through choice, but is strong and built around individual strengths.”

“Without a voice we will be lost in the big ‘metro’ picture, so Country Arts WA is pivotal to the regional arts sector.”

“We have pottery wheels and printing equipment but no one to teach us.”

“Young people create in a random and organic way; how to balance that with strategy and planning.”

“Reduce the volume of requirements for reporting that ties up our staff both paid and volunteer.”

“Develop useful tools and methodologies to enable us to evaluate our community’s expectations.”

“Availability of mentorships for [arts] practitioners in business management would be worthwhile.”

The overarching vision for the Hubs (currently four and in future years will grow to 22) is to be the core connection point for its community and across its region; and will connect with the other Hubs inter-regionally and throughout the enormity of Western Australia to facilitate asset-based community driven effort to further the regional arts sector.

For information on the Regional Arts Hubs initiative, and on each of the Hub organisations click here.

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