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A Message from Julie Briggs, Chair, Regional Arts NSW

After 15 years of amazing service to Regional Arts NSW, our CEO Elizabeth Rogers is moving on.

Elizabeth’s passion, drive and commitment was on show for all to see last November when we held our fourth and last Artstate event. While many doubted that a state conference of its magnitude could be staged on the back of a long, hard COVID year, Elizabeth was determined that with her experienced conference team it could be done. She was of course proved right as she helmed a COVID-safe event that we believe was the first major arts gathering held in NSW post the 2020 lockdown. What an event it was, with people attending from across NSW sharing their stories and experiences about delivering arts and cultural programs in regional NSW.

Artstate is perhaps one of the initiatives that Elizabeth will be most remembered for. Believing as she did, that we did not want to lose the momentum that we had built up with RANSW’s delivery of the national event, ARTLANDS, in Dubbo, she was sure the time was right for NSW to have its own regional arts conference. Her focus and clear purpose for the event resulted in the NSW Government providing RANSW with significant funding that allowed us to deliver four events in Lismore, Bathurst, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. Events that showcased the incredible talents of both professional and community artists from across regional NSW.

It was Elizabeth’s vision that resulted in Artstate and we are extremely grateful for the tenacity and determination she showed whether it was dealing with floods at Lismore or the COVID pandemic in Wagga Wagga.

Elizabeth has a national role, working closely with Regional Arts Australia (RAA) to ensure that the needs of artists and arts organisations located in regional NSW are accommodated in the design of national funding programs, particularly the Regional Arts Fund (RAF). Elizabeth brings her extensive experience in the arts to regular RAA CEO meetings where representatives gather from all the states and territories to formulate national level strategies that will be voiced by RAA.

The importance of that role became clear in 2020. Data gathered through RANSW and provided to RAA was integral in a decision by the Federal Government to provide $10 million into the RAF to assist regional artists and arts’ organisations deliver projects that addressed the three-pronged attack of bushfires, drought and COVID.

Underpinning all that, was Elizabeth’s commitment to ensure she had first-hand experience of what was happening in the regions. Constantly in the car, travelling to meet executive director’s and Regional Arts Development Organisations (RADOs) Boards, where needed to speak to local councils, councillors and other local stakeholders about the importance of the work that RADOs do. The RADO network often called on her to provide guidance on recruitment, HR, administrative and governance issues. I am sure she has lost count of the number of interview panels she has served on for RADOs!

Peak bodies are important, we provide a coherent voice that speaks to the unique issues of those we represent. Elizabeth has been that voice for regional artists and arts’ organisations, speaking to NSW Upper House Inquiries, Senate Inquiries, preparing submissions, meeting with, and writing to politicians, state and federal agencies and peak organisations. At times she has been the loudest voice in the room, and we are very thankful for that.

The Board of RANSW warmly thanks Elizabeth for her incredible contribution to our organisation. We know that Canberra Glassworks will be that much stronger for having captured Elizabeth’s passion and commitment for the arts, together with her strong administrative and governance skills.

Best wishes Elizabeth, you will be missed!