CEO Update: August 2022

CEO Update: August 2022

Regional Arts WA

Paul MacPhail reflects on his last six years as CEO of Regional Arts WA in his final CEO update, which includes recent updates on Town Hall Meetings with Hon Tony Burke MP, submissions on a National Cultural Policy, the 2022 Regional Arts WA Survey, Next Level Regional Grant results and corporate partnerships and income opportunities.


Kaya Noonacoort.

I was fortunate enough yesterday to attend one of Minister Tony Burke’s Town Hall Meetings that he’s taking part in right around Australia. It’s fantastic to be in a room with a Federal Arts Minister, who kind of gets us, who speaks our language, is energised to try and help us and is really looking for us to help him create a big picture vision of what a National Arts and Cultural Policy could look like before the end of this year.

There is still time for all of us to contribute to that process. I’d really encourage everyone, even if it’s only one line, to write in response to the submission around the National Cultural Policy. Look, even if all you can say is, “I would love to contribute, but I am so under resourced and time poor that I can’t actually get around to it.” That is enough of a submission. We’re about to share our submission and I’m looking for feedback. You can use that, or simply refer to that, if you’d like. But please get involved. The more of us who contribute to this process, the better.

Talking about contributing to processes, I just wanted to thank those of you who have recently taken part in our biennial survey process. We’re about to take the report of that to our Board and once that’s been done, then we’ll make it much more public and put it out there in the sector for comment. This is actually the first time that we’ve had a dedicated research officer as part of the organisation. It’s Demelza’s first foray into the survey process and I think she’s done a fantastic job. We hope that this is just the first of many research papers that we can start to carry on, to give us regional art specific data to be able to help the sector.

Now, as some of you may know, this will be my last video as the CEO of Regional Arts WA and I just wanted to try and give a bit of a reflection, if I could, on the last six years. When I first came into the job, the sector was telling us very clearly that there were four key issues that we really needed to try and address. Those were that the sector was feeling disconnected, homogenous, invisible, and it was struggling. So over the past six years, we’ve tried to reposition ourselves as an organisation that is more able to advocate and support you in our response to these key issues.

It’s hard, as a peak body, to be able to necessarily point to something at one point in time and go, “There’s our success”, because a lot of the work that we do tends to be long term and have long term strategies around it. But, I did think that the recent results of our Next Level funding program were a nice indication of how I think that we’ve maybe managed to move the dial a little bit in the past six years.

Next Level is our emerging Artist Fellowship Program and it’s part of a real push by us to try and make sure that there is more money available for individual regional artists to sustain and develop their own careers. It complements the established Fellowship program that we’ve also been running over the past four years. Hugely successful, hugely in demand, and is able to just free artists up to, basically, give them a living wage to be able to carry out their work.

So, we were actually able to increase the number of recipients this year round, because of a corporate partnership that we’ve established. Thank you very much KingKira. What we’re hoping, is that this is the first of a kind of wave of more income opportunities that we can offer the sector through diversifying our income sources and having bigger partnerships with the corporate sector. So, look out for that in the future. But through this, through that partnership, we were able to extend the number of Fellowships we were able to offer through Next Level and we’ve been able to give out eight Next Level Fellowships as part of that, for 12 months.

Now, I think that the breakdown of some of those artists is kind of interesting. Out of the eight, we have seven different art forms. And, of those eight recipients, we have one First Nations successful recipient, three who identify as CALD, one with a disability, and two who identify as LBGTQIA+. In addition, we cover seven of the nine regions and five of the applications were encouraged by their connections to our emerging network of Regional Arts Hubs.

I hope you’ll agree with me that there’s an opportunity to take pride in some of the shifts that we’ve been making, just by looking at this one particular instance of our funding program.

I am very grateful to you, and thank you very much for allowing me to be on this journey with you over the past six years. Long may it continue.

Thank you very much.

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