Regional Development Australia | Partnership Showcases Regional Arts

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Regional Development Australia

Partnership Showcases Regional Arts

Sonja Johnson
: (07) 4041 1729

Chief Executive Officer
Regional Development Australia
Tropical North (RDA)

The arts priorities of communities throughout Tropical North Queensland are being identified following the appointment of four arts workers to the newly formed Regional Arts Services Network Tropical North.

A partnership between Regional Development Australia (RDA) Tropical North and Cook Shire Council, the Regional Arts Services Network Tropical North will showcase regional arts across multiple platforms that focus on community engagement and facilitate career pathways in the arts.

Regional Arts Manager Tony Castles and three regional coordinators have been travelling throughout the region, from the Cassowary Coast north to the Torres Strait and west to Etheridge Shire, to engage with each community.

The newly assembled team of Marilyn Miller in Cairns, Waratah Nicholls in Cooktown and Perina Drummond on Thursday Island are focusing on listening to the arts priorities and challenges across our diverse region.

In addition to the broader arts community engagement, a steering committee of 10 people will be established. The committee will include representatives from councils, universities, Indigenous art centres and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair to help guide the strategic vision of the Regional Arts Services Network Tropical North and ensure stakeholder project ideas meet their objectives.

The Network’s strategy and projects will closely align with Arts Queensland’s Creative Together 2022-2032 policy to elevate First Nations arts as a priority, activate places and spaces, drive social change and strengthen communities, and share the stories of our regions.

To achieve this, the regional coordinators will work with each community to realise the arts and cultural projects that will strengthen their community and build arts and cultural capacity.

There are many exciting opportunities which are very much at the whiteboard stage of thinking. They include projects that share and celebrate local stories and activate local places and spaces including digital spaces. A number of challenges have been identified including the skills shortage, lack of career pathways and difficulty in recruiting volunteers.

Our region has a very vibrant arts sector, but its true economic potential remains largely untapped. The most recent statistics from the 2016 Census show 3210 people were employed in arts and culture with those jobs accounting for 3 per cent of the workforce.

The sector’s value of $460 million was also significant, accounting for 3.8 per cent of our Gross Regional Product. The 2019 State of the Arts Report commissioned by James Cook University, Central Queensland University and Cairns Regional Council predicted 7 per cent growth in the number of cultural and arts businesses over the next five years.

As an independent agency brokering regional development solutions, RDA Tropical North sees a window of opportunity to create jobs and further grow the Tropical North’s economy by tapping into the creative sector, especially the region’s extraordinary First Nations art and culture.

The newly formed Regional Arts Services Network Tropical North is all about connecting networks to strengthen the impacts for the region’s arts and cultural community.

Regional Development Australia Tropical North is an independent agency driven by community leaders to broker regional development solutions that will create jobs and grow the Far North Queensland economy.