No, it’s not a reduction in funding for the Regional Arts Fund

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Sabine Brix

$673,000 in funding has been announced in the latest Regional Arts Fund Community Grant round, which seems considerably less than the previous December 2017 round of $1.17M, but the discrepancy is easily explained.
No, it’s not a reduction in funding for the Regional Arts Fund

A previous project at Streaky Bay, whose Council has received funding through the latest round of Regional Arts Fund Community Grants. Photo credit: Cam Edser.

If you look at the funding distributed in the latest round of Regional Arts Fund Community Grants from the Australian Government – $673,000 for 54 projects, announced 5 July 2018 – and compare it to the December 2017 round ($1.17 million for 70 projects) you might be forgiven for thinking that a major reduction in funds has occurred.

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It hasn’t.

This latest round of funded projects, taking place from 1 July 2018, only includes regional, remote and rural Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

‘Every time we announce a funding round we get questions from people thinking that NSW and the NT have been left off the list,’ said Mary Jane Warfield, Regional Arts Australia Fund Manager.

The latest round may seem to have distributed substantially less than the Regional Arts December 2017 round, but this is because NSW and the NT only release one funding round per year.

Read: Regional Arts Fund gets $1.17m boost

Regional Arts Australia Executive Director, John Oster told ArtsHub: ‘In all of these arts funding rounds, most of the states do two funding rounds per year, therefore they split their allocation in half; but two states issue all of their grants in one round so that means this round is a smaller pool, because the two states [NSW and NT] that do their one round per year have stacked all of their funds into the previous pool. So it’s no reduction in funds for the Regional Arts Fund, it’s just that the rounds are allocated by states.’

Regional Arts Victoria CEO Joe Toohey said wrapping your head around the funding models can be bewildering.

'The great strength of the Regional Arts Fund is its flexibility, as it allows each state to act responsively to the needs of their state community. That does make it more complex to view from a federal level, because there are slightly different guidelines and programs for the Regional Arts Fund in each state,' Toohey said.

Who's received the grants?

The convergence of art and science is a prevalent theme in this funding round, with a number of projects that respond to and engage with the natural environment making the list.

Local stories also feature strongly, with artists collecting narratives from the local community as the basis for new original works. New media and experimentation with technology is exemplified by artists who are choosing to explore and produce work – often using technology to bring history to contemporary formats.

Regional Arts Australia Chair Simon Spain noted: 'These trends demonstrate a connection to place that is consistent with Australian regional arts practice. These connections often result in distinctive works that reflect the location, engaging large segments of the communities in which they are derived through the creation of meaningful content that is firmly grounded in the local environment.'

Almost 20% of funding has been directed to First Nations artists and organisations for new collaborations and contemporary arts practice.

Funded projects include: 

Benjamin Tupas, Mount Lofty, QLD, $17,000
LIT Futures

In conjunction with LIT Festival: Stories in Light, the LIT Futures Project will see the creation of three site-specific light sculptures and delivery of artist-led community workshops. Informed by stories from the Toowoomba region, the workshops will facilitate lantern-making and choreographed movement, and the project will culminate in a night parade and the curation of a night garden space.

District Council of Streaky Bay, SA, $15,000
Art Meets Science: Geolocation Journeys On! Residency

A collaboration of artists, scientists, educators and Aboriginal artists will invoke community activism through community forums, hands-on workshops and field experience covering Southern Ocean ecology, design, visual art, engineering and data analysis. The participants will learn about marine predators and share in an arts and science dialogue to generate new, exciting and innovative approaches that explore the local marine environment and the many challenges it faces.   

South Gippsland Shire Council, VIC, $15,000
It's no drama

It's no drama, an emerging inclusive theatre group for people with disabilities, evolved from partnership with South Gippsland Shire Council beginning in December 2015. This project will involve the creation of a new original work by the ensemble, with mentorship by Rawcus, and a new partnership with local film production house, Drift Media. It aims to further engage the community in original theatre, with the added dimension of film. Drift Media will mentor ensemble members to produce a short film about the process. A panel of ensemble/enablers will “tour" the film as part of Come and Play - All of May. The project will also engage with local schools to deliver the film/panel/workshop experience for students, educators and the community.  

Mast Films Pty Ltd, TAS, $10,000
THREAD

Thread is a cross-cultural community development project where refugees and new arrivals and young people from, born and/or raised in, Australia create an original five part web-series together. The stories created will be fictional, though they will reflect the lived experiences of the participants, and set in contemporary Hobart. The series is planned to be a mix of drama, comedy and thriller, and will be screened, with a Q&A, in Hobart through the Youth Arts and Recreation Centre, at the ‘Taste of Moonah Festival’, and in Adelaide at the ‘DreamBIG Festival’.  

For a full list of funded projects see: regionalarts.com.au/raf-announcements

About the author

Sabine is a writer, editor, podcaster and electronic musician with a specific interest in personal storytelling that captures the essence of why people create. She was the former Online Content Producer at Archer Magazine and editor of the LGBTI website: Gay News Network.

Her music has appeared on the SBS series Starting From Now, and she currently produces the ‘80s music podcast Neon Mullet.

Follow Sabine on Twitter @sabinebrix

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