Important funding received for Regional Arts in Western Australia with 10 projects being supported.
Five Western Australian artists and five arts organisations based in regional and remote WA will receive funding though the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government program managed in Western Australia by Regional Arts WA.
The ten creative projects supported through the Regional Arts Fund span multiple artistic disciplines across theatre, dance, film, music, sculpture and visual arts, circus, opera, and textile art, with the projects set to be delivered in five of Western Australia’s regions, traversing the length of the state from the Kimberley to the Great Southern.
Many of the projects bring focus to the state’s Indigenous culture and history: in the wake of the Fitzroy Valley floods, Marnin Studio will bring together Pilbara women who weave to reflect on the effects of the floodwaters and create new works. The Cowara Bird Project from the South West shares the Noongar legend of the Cowara bird, inviting the community to tap into the cultural essence of Cowaramup and its Wardandi history. Etude, in the Mid West, will involve community workshops that lead to collaborative compositions and mentoring with a focus on First Nations youth. Scones with Nanna, from the Kimberley is a truth-telling narrative that explores the impact of the Aborigines Act 1905, which is still felt today.
The Regional Arts Fund has historically provided $3.7 million per year to support regional and remote communities across the country, with over $230,000 being granted to regional Western Australian artists and organisations in this round of Project Grant funding.
The Fund supports sustainable economic, social, and cultural development, builds partnerships and networks, and aids in developing audiences and encouraging community engagement with the arts. It also increases employment and development opportunities for regional and remote artists and industry workers in Western Australia.
Chief executive Officer at Regional Arts WA, Dr Pilar Kasat, commented “I’d like to extend congratulations to the recipients personally and on behalf of our team at Regional Arts WA. Each project in this round provides opportunities for high levels of creative artistry to flourish and enrich the lives of Western Australians across the State”.
“The sense of history and place conveyed through many of these activities will strengthen the already powerful connections remote and regional communities have with their environment, their heritage and each other.” Kasat said.
Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, warmly congratulated the recipients and their vital contributions to the richness, diversity and uniqueness of Australia’s arts scene.
“Our story cannot be told without the voices of artists from regional and remote Australia,” Minister Burke said.
“That’s why the Albanese Government is increasing its support for the Regional Arts Fund by an additional $8.5 million over the next four years – promoting a thriving arts scene across the country.
“A key pillar of Revive, Australia’s new National Cultural Policy is to ensure there’s a place for every story, and a story for every place – this funding helps ensure that.”
The Australian Government’s investment in regional arts is vital for cultural, social, and economic development in our regions. The projects announced today will provide professional opportunities for arts workers and create space for reflection, growth and shared joy in the regional communities they call home.
The projects which have received funding this round are:
Gwendolyn Knox (Kimberley) | $29,000 | Scones with Nanna tour of Wheatbelt WA
Nanna’s story emerges through the fog of dementia. This work is a truth-telling that exposes secrets hidden for generations. Nanna was born rough, raised posh and taught to forget.
The setting begins in 1972, tracing back 100 years of history to tell the story of how families dealt with rapid changes and the trauma caused by the Aborigines Act 1905, legislation which forced Indigenous mothers to make horrific decisions about what do to with their mixed-race children.
This site specific, multi artform work commences production in 2023, ready to tour WA regional towns Moora, Toodyay, Beverley, and finishing at the York Festival.
Sky River (South West) | $29,124 | The Marri Tree Girl – exploring puppetry and digital media- Creative Development Stage
The Marri Tree Girl is an original puppet-based initiative by Sky River, providing professional development opportunities for regional artists to collaborate on a new piece of Western Australian theatre.
Weaving worlds of science and storytelling, this fictional work experiments with various art-forms including puppetry, digital media, film, music and contemporary performance to explore ecological themes. The Creative Development Stage funds a team of skilled regional performers to upskill in puppetry, explore the script and integrate digital media at Margaret River HEART. An interactive showing will invite local community groups and industry professionals who have previously engaged in the show’s development.
Southern Edge Arts (Great Southern) | $20,029 | Living on the Edge Festival
Living on the Edge is a festival of youth performing arts. Held in Albany, the festival includes the presentation of four contemporary youth devised performances across each weekend in October.
Regional Youth will create and present cabaret, circus, theatre and fire performances that are accessible to audiences in the Great Southern Region.
Denmark Baroque (Great Southern) | $21,800 | Fairy Queen: The Carnival
Fairy Queen: The Carnival is a multi-disciplinary semi-opera which creates opportunities for skilled professionals in a range of creative disciplines to mentor emerging creatives and community members across Western Australia’s Great Southern region.
This large community project explores Denmark Baroque’s historically and contemporarily uneasy relationship with the ‘wild’, physically and psychologically. The performance outcome is Baroque Opera and Shakespeare laced with a vaudeville blend of circus, contemporary poetry and immersive theatre, which will be presented on the banks of the Kwoorabup River (Denmark) on Labour Day weekend 2024.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (Peel) | $21,968.00| The language of birds
Abdul-Rahman will create a new body of work ‘The language of birds’ and present at the Melbourne Art Fair representing gallery Moore Contemporary in February 2024.
Birds are a repeated motif in Abdul’s work, exploring ideas of communication, language, and symbolism. ‘The language of birds’ furthers his investigations into modes of communication with the natural world with a suite of sculptures embodying the fragmentation of ideas when turned into objects and language. Expanding on the Sufi (Islamic mysticism) tradition of a ‘Divine language’ encoded within birdsong, the works question the limits of language in communicating an objective understanding of the natural world.
Kelsie Miller (Mid West) | $13,230.24 | Always Good Nights
Good Nights are boutique music events held in regional Western Australia, with a focus on connecting local communities with live music.
Each show will take place in a unique setting that is not a traditional music venue, such as churches, art galleries and local businesses. These shows are a safe and welcoming space where songwriters can share their music with an audience who are actively listening and engaged, creating an environment that is a celebration of music between the artist and the listener. Good Nights work closely with local businesses, arts workers and musicians in regional centres to create these special events.
Dane Yates (Mid West) | $20,000 | Etude; Midwest Art Music Ensemble
Etude will be Geraldton’s first experimental art music ensemble and the only one of its nature in the Mid West region dedicated to offering exciting newly commissioned works from regional composers performed by an ensemble of local performers.
This initial development will lay the groundwork for the ensemble’s musical direction and philosophy, establish strong partnerships throughout the Mid West and generate movement for programming community engagement opportunities which will benefit the wider community via workshops and lead to collaborative compositions and mentoring with a focus on First Nations youth. This project will culminate in Etude’s premier performance in the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery.
Cara Ratajczak (South West) | $27,864 | Cowara Bird Project
The Cowara Bird Project is a story-telling contemporary dance performance engaging children in the local community to celebrate the Noongar Cowara story.
The town of Cowaramup has been known to the local Wardandi people as the place of the Cowara, the purple crowned lorikeet, for thousands of years. This vibrant performance brings light to the story of the Cowara bird in a meaningful and creative way to broaden the community’s connection to the essence of Cowaramup and its Wardandi history.
Southern Forest Arts (South West) | $30,000 | Cultivating connections & creative leadership through the 2023 Regional Visual Arts Summit
An estimated 40 creative leaders from across all 9 regions of WA will participate in a 3-day Summit held in Perth to focus collective energy on increased connection, collaboration and sustainability within WA’s regional visual arts sector.
Inclusion of emerging–to-established and independent-to-employed artists, arts workers and arts organisation representatives ensures a whole of sector approach to capacity building, with free registration and access to travel bursaries if required. This multi-agency initiative amplifies the impact of the Open Borders survey exhibition and dovetails with the current review of the regional exhibition touring strategy.
Marninwarntikura Womens Resource Centre (Kimberley) | $19,760 | Weaving in feelings of flood
The initial idea planned by Marnin Studio was a cross-regional project with a goal to link local women who weave with their contemporaries in the Pilbara, however, the flooding across the Fitzroy Valley has reduced the scope and brought the project back closer to home.
Weaving in feelings of flood aims to bring women together through weaving, to untangle the effect of the floodwaters on homes and families while the weavers learn new skills and develop new works.
The Regional Arts Fund is one way the Australian Government supports regional artists and arts
organisations to develop their artistic practice and produce works and experiences to benefit their local communities. The Regional Arts Fund is administered on behalf of the Australian Government by Regional Arts Australia and organizations in each state and territory which includes Regional Arts WA.
Image credit – Saul Cresswell