Regional Artist And Why Do They Matter
Last year, at the Regional Artist Australia Summit in Kalgoorlie–Boulder, Attorney General George Brandis announced funding of more than A$1,000,000 for regional arts projects in Australia. He state that regional arts was one area that should protect from budget cuts. What are regional art and why is it important?
You would think that the term was well-known. However, definitions can vary greatly. To determine who is or isn’t regional, many funding bodies adopt the Australian Bureau of Statistics Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia a model which defines all areas outside the major capital cities as regional and classifies their degree of remoteness based on proximity to service centres.
Other arts organizations prefer to use the Rural, Remote, and Metropolitan Areas Index for their classifications. This excludes any centres with more than 100,000 people from regional funding. This means that centres like Wollongong and Newcastle will consider regional, and therefore eligible for funding.
The definition of regional is, in short, up to the eye of the beholder. Senator Brandis stated that during his press conference at Regional Arts Australia Summit. Quality arts and cultural activities do not have to be restrict to capital cities.
Artists who live in grey areas between urban and rural areas should be aware of the demographic and geographic criteria of each funding body if they want to be eligible to receive grant money for their region.
What Does It Mean To Be A Regional Artist?
A regional artist, geographically speaking, is someone who lives and practices art in a region. This covers large towns, villages, and rural areas.
Regional artists are more likely to focus on visual arts and writing. However, actors, dancers and musicians are also among the many who could self-identify themselves as regional artists.
The same goes for regional artists’ work. Some focus on their environment, others the social fabric, and some ignore it entirely.
This diversity can be seen in Hill End, Bathurst, New South Wales’s iconic arts village. Here, the work of local landscape artists is juxtaposed with the PVC pipe sculptures of Mark Booth, and the architectural sculpture by Hui Selwood.
Regional artists may be able to enjoy the advantages of working in their favorite places, as well as lower overheads and closer family members, but they also face difficulties such as limited access to professional development programs and fewer networking opportunities, and limited market access. Arts funding can help make a real difference.
Regional Arts Funding
Regional artists can apply for funding through a variety of major programs. While the Federal Regional Artist Fund is the flagship program, each state has its own funding programs. Organisations can also access non-arts-related funds if they use the arts for works that promote health, economic development, or social cohesion.
Federal funding is available through many sources: the Minister for the Arts is part of the Attorney-General’s Office, as well as the Australia Council. The Australia Council has a funding decision-making process where government acts in an independent manner. This principle was established by the Australia Council’s foundation back in 1973. However, it seems that this approach may be endangered after last year’s Sydney Biennale boycott.
Due to the many funding sources, funding pools, and individual programs available, it is difficult to estimate how much money regional arts receives. However, grants can vary from A$500 to A$150,000 for artists to A$150,000 to arts fellowships.
Major funding bodies insist that grants are going to regional Australia in accordance with the population. Around 32% of Australians reside regionally. However, the actual amount is often lower due to the fact that these bodies are based in cities.
Nevertheless, there are some programs of the Australia Council that have clear regional benefits. These programs include Visions of Australia and Playing Australia. The Contemporary Music Touring Program, Festivals Australia: Regional Festival Projects Fund and Playing Australia are all funding pools that provide incentives for artists to perform in regions.
Arts Start grants, which help young artists develop their careers, and business strategies, have a history of supporting regional artists.