Australians are looking to their own backyards for holiday destinations like never before – and this can only be a good thing for regional art practitioners.
Regional tourism has benefited from government incentives, including a $51.5 million economic package announced in March to support the visitor economy, which will help revive tourist numbers and, in turn, much-needed spending.
After a challenging 2020, regional artists are now regrouping, planning events, exhibitions and performances. All they need now is the audience, says Rose Marin, Executive Director of Southern Tablelands Arts.
‘I think in 2021 and beyond, people really are seeing regional destinations as absolutely viable places to go for weekenders, school holidays or extended trips,’ she said.
She said it is a mistake to assume there’s a lack of cultural depth outside major centres, ‘when in fact regional NSW is literally thriving with arts and cultural activities’.
Marin is the Executive Director of Southern Tablelands Arts one of 14 Regional Arts Development Organisations, or RADOs, that work across Regional NSW.
Each RADO works across several local government areas and with local councils and communities to provide strategic direction for sustainable arts and cultural development. They offer resources and opportunities for creative practitioners to make a living.
A new collaborative web portal under the moniker Regional Arts Creative State hosts links to multiple websites offering a variety of information for visitors, from festivals, creative directories of artists in visual and performance, arts, screen and more, to local events, artist profiles and even linked social media accounts.
Visitors exploring from the portal will find creative opportunities that cover most of NSW. Southern Tablelands Arts covers Goulburn Mulwaree, Hilltops, Upper Lachlan, Wingecarribee, Wollondilly and Yass Valley regions. Their neighbours South East Arts cover the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla and Snowy Monaro.
Others include Outback Arts incorporating Bourke, Brewarrina, Bogan, Cobar, Coonamble, Walgett and Warren; while Arts North West Connect offers a trove of information for the Armidale, Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha regions. The coastal regions are covered by Arts Mid North coast and Arts North Rivers. In all 11 RADO territories can be accessed through the portal.
A COLLECTIVE PLATFORM
The new portal has been created to showcase the unique flavours of regional NSW. Visitors can use VR to explore varied events, festivals and exhibitions to use as inspiration for a road trip – whether that’s from a bigger city or a local surrounding area.
‘We aren’t one organisation but a rich network, we do different things because we mirror back our practitioners and diverse communities,’ Marin says.
‘So people can discover the Broken Heel Festival in Broken Hill or go to a music festival in Bega. Rather than having an expected outcome, what we are hoping people will do is go on a journey of discovery with the site – there are plenty of surprises in store.’
The idea was fuelled by the need to provide greater visibility for regional artists. Marin says that, while there is a depth of talent in regional areas, it has been a tough year for artists, many of whom missed out on critical JobKeeper support. So supporting artists financially is crucial.
‘What we desperately need to do now to support our creatives to make a living, and tourism is a really important point,’ she said.
‘We really need to make sure those people can continue to create projects that are rich and deep – it’s not something that just happens.’
Planning your regional NSW cultural trip has never been easier.
To find out more, visit the Regional Arts Creative State website.