Bold new strategy set to provide a framework for Great-Southern arts

Campbell WilliamsonAlbany Advertiser
Albany Entertainment Centre.
Camera IconAlbany Entertainment Centre. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

The creative future of the Great Southern is set to be redefined over the coming months with the development of a region-wide vision for the arts sector.

Arts is important to the Great Southern, contributing about $3.3 billion to the WA economy each year and providing a way for each region to tell their story.

Scheduled for completion by end of 2021, the Great Southern Creative Exchange framework aims to inform regional artistic direction through the development of a comprehensive vision for the region.

It comes after a WA Arts and Culture Monitor study demanded the need to reassess arts access across regional WA to boost regional participation and fuel tourism.

The project is being built mainly around a $50,000 contribution from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and will be chaired by the Great Southern Development Commission. It also includes a host of other influential backers including the City of Albany, regional shires and local creative groups.

Jarrad Gardner, director of regional development and deputy CEO at the Great Southern Development Commission, said the process would seek to empower local governments.

“The Great Southern is a vast, multifaceted region with so much to offer and a unified strategy will enable us to clearly communicate priorities for industry development and to position the region as a desirable arts, culture and heritage destination,” he said.

The Great Southern Creative Exchange logo.
Camera IconThe Great Southern Creative Exchange logo.

“The regional-level strategy is a framework from which local area strategies can be developed. It will include a clear vision, objectives, strategies and success factors as well as time frames, which will be used to monitor and guide implementation over time.”

The finished strategy is scheduled for completion in November and will be built slowly through a rigorous process of community consultation.

This process of community consultation started in late April and runs until May 29, with community members encouraged to register online and have their voice heard.

While it runs, think-tanks will also be held in Denmark, Albany, Jerramungup, Mt Barker and Katanning on May 13 and 14 to gain a better understanding of each community’s situation.

Then, beginning in June, the Great Southern Creative Exchange will begin a process of targeted stakeholder engagement with government, industry and traditional owners set to feature.

“The survey will give us a wide reach across the region and a broad scale view from diverse communities,” Mr Gardner said.

“The broad information we get from the survey will help inform a second phase of industry and interest-group engagement which will happen in June/July.”

“From here, we will develop the draft strategy and the community will also be able to provide feedback on this.”

The Great Southern contains myriad landscapes and stories, from rugged coastlines to salt lakes, lonely farmhouses and bustling towns.

Each location’s unique stories will be facilitated by the framework through its consideration of the pillars of identify, experience, and capacity.

These three pillars will emphasise the region’s defining narratives, the accessibility of its artistic experiences and the resources needed to stimulate future storytelling and creative engagement.

Mr Gardner said they would help to “understand economic development potential and the region’s potential future positioning as a cultural tourism destination”.

“(We) encourage everyone to take the survey and register for one of the think- tanks,” he said.

“It’s important for everyone to have the opportunity to inform the strategy even if they are not directly involved with arts, culture and heritage activity.”

Visit gscreate.com.au.

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