Strategic Plan 2021-2025
Strategic Plan Activity
West Darling Arts acknowledges the traditional owners of Far West NSW and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We would also like to acknowledge that sovereignty of this land was never ceded.
West Darling Arts is committed to empowering the communities of the Far West NSW to express and explore their culture through engagement with the arts.
West Darling Arts will implement an active strategic plan in 2021 with plans and goals directed to priority areas for arts and cultural development in the Far West of NSW. West Darling Arts will identify and engage stakeholders and partnerships across the 176,000 square kilometers of the region. Over the next four years, we will focus on fostering creative collaborations, providing professional development opportunities for our region’s creatives, celebrating Aboriginal arts and culture and broadening the range of artforms we work with. We will continue to monitor, evaluate and implement improvement to management of policies, procedures and governance to maintain clarity of purpose, and to deliver on our mission.
Who we are
The program receives core funding from Create NSW and receives support from Broken Hill City Council, Wentworth Shire Council and Central Darling Shire. WDA also covers the Western Unincorporated Area and receives support from Create NSW to provide services in this region.
Since its inception, WDA has made a significant contribution to the region through long term programs, developed in partnership with the community, that focus on economically sustainable outcomes.
West Darling Arts is managed by a skills-based committee which has experience in many areas including strategic planning, film, visual arts, contemporary craft and community development.
What we do
One of our primary purposes is to provide support to the arts and artists in our region. This takes the form of providing advice, running professional development programs and brokering opportunities to create new work. We have a focus on communications, in particular through social media, e-newsletter and our website. Through these platforms we promote opportunities including grants, competitions and prizes. We also highlight the activities of our artists and organisations, increase visibility for our arts and culture and strengthen creative networks within our community. West Darling Arts administers the CASP grants with devolved funding from Create NSW. These grants have historically gone towards large range public artworks, festivals and workshops throughout the Far West region. We provide support and advice with grant applications including running workshops on how to apply. We also run projects throughout the region such as workshops, public art projects, artists in residence, festivals and public performances.
We partner with other organisations in the region such as the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, the libraries in Wentworth and the village committees throughout the region to deliver programs and projects.
Where are we going?
The visibility of West Darling Arts within the region has greatly increased over the last 18 months. The Board and staff plan to continue this trajectory and increase visibility of the region's artists beyond the Far West. West Darling Arts has the potential to strengthen its role as a connector and enabler of the arts by building a local creative community that can connect and collaborate within and beyond our region. One successful example is workshop collaboration with visiting film crews.
The world in which we live
West Darling Arts is geographically the largest of the RADOs with one of the smallest populations at around 28,000. Mining is a major industry for the region, particularly Broken Hill and tourism is growing in importance for the entire region. The demographics of our region are changing. People are moving to the Far West from the cities to escape high housing costs and enjoy the benefits of an easier lifestyle. These tree changers are more culturally aware and want to participate in and support the arts, and many are creative themselves. There is a large transient sector of the population due to work experience requirements in the health, legal, media and education sectors who tend to be young and interested in the arts.
There are new mining sites due to open soon in the region which will place additional pressure on the housing availability and affordability yet may also bring about an economic boom. Tourism is a growing economy for the whole region with cultural tourists making up a larger proportion than previously, as overseas travel has evaporated during the Coronavirus pandemic and Australians are now travelling domestically.
The region is low in the socio-economic scale and has an overall aging population. Broken Hill is categorised as a Modified Monash Model (MMM) 3 within a 300km radius of MMM7. Drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and high unemployment are common issues throughout the region. 10.8% of the population identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and have a different profile to the broader population - nearly 50% are aged 25 or under. Many Aboriginal people of the region are Barkindji, Ngyaampa, Dieri and Malyangappa. There are currently no Aboriginal arts or cultural centres in the region, although one is planned for Wilcannia; the lack of a centre in Broken Hill has been an acknowledged issue for many years. West Darling Arts has partnered with the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery for several years on the Maari Ma Indigenous Arts Award, a prize that bears witness to the strong cultural output by the artists of the region in a diverse range of artforms.
Although the pandemic has hit certain parts of the community hard, it has also increased access to cultural activities through online workshops, seminars and podcasts, which is significant given the region’s distance from major centres and the isolation of its communities.
General attitudes to the arts in the region are split between those who are enthusiastic to engage in new artforms and ideas and those who, whilst largely accepting the arts and often recognising the role that the arts play in the cultural identity of the region and its relationship to the tourist economy, prefer to engage with the familiar. The latter strongly support traditional artforms such as landscape painting, pub rock and country music.
The new focus on quirky festivals in the region has helped establish the brand of the Far West as a cultural hotspot through the success of Broken Heel and planned festivals including the Mundi Mundi Big Bash and WDA’s GLAMFest Laneway festival. The growing investment in cultural tourism infrastructure such as the Sturt’s Steps project helps to build a strong alternative to mining as the major industry of the region. WDA has had a primary focus on visual arts and music, partly due to the experience of staff and board members in these areas. There is interest in broadening the scope of current delivery to include more performing arts, in the manner of regional communities such as Townsville, where their unique chamber orchestra performing arts festival has garnered great acclaim, and by enticing small touring companies to the region. Building on the area’s reputation in film and increasing the creative community attached to production will strengthen the perception of West Darling Arts as an authority on screen industries in the region.
There will be an extension of jewellery-making workshops that were delivered to the Aboriginal community in the region including workshops held on Country that could be extended to woodcarving and sharing knowledge about bush tucker. With limited capacity and resources, WDA recognises the importance of identifying, assisting and developing drivers to create and develop projects and programs across all artforms - including the performing arts – to allow them to gain traction. There is also a strong desire within the organisation to enable artists to level-up by training them to apply for grants, enter competitions etc. and be an advocate for them. We want to light a spark in young people to encourage them to engage in the arts.
West Darling Arts has demonstrated great strength and efficiency in its operation. With a limited staff of an executive director, and part-time communications and project officers, WDA has increased its funding through successful grant applications and achieved demonstrable project outcomes. There is now considerable enthusiasm to fund an Aboriginal arts officer, with the potential to partner with other organisations such as LGAs in the region to co-fund the position.
Board President: Jess Picken
Treasurer: Annette Herd
Staff Executive Director: Cathy Farry
Project Officers: Jo Crase, Dan Schulz, Otis Filley
Communications Officer: Kelly Leonard
Contract Bookkeeper and HR: Penny Smith
Funding agency - Create NSW
Regional Arts NSW
Contributing Local Government Areas - Broken Hill City Council, Central Darling Shire, Wentworth Shire Council