ORANA ARTS REGIONAL SNAPSHOT 2017
The Orana region covers 46,173 square kilometres and has a total population of approximately 85,676 people. It incorporates five LGAs – Dubbo Region, Gilgandra Shire, Mid-Western Region, Narromine Shire and Warrumbungle Shire Council. The main centre – Dubbo – services a population over 120,000. Approximately 13% of the population is Aboriginal and 3% people of a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD).
Major highways pass through each of the shires, facilitating tourism and stopovers. All shires have an array of cultural groups representing many areas of art.
The population of each of the LGAs are:
- Dubbo Region – Pop. 51,249
- Gilgandra Shire – Pop. 4,368
- Mid-Western Region– Pop. 22,677 (major town Mudgee)
- Warrumbungle Shire – Pop. 9,809 (major town Coonabarabran)
The main industries are:
- Healthcare Services
- Education & Training
Arts and Culture Overview
The Orana region has several volunteer-run arts councils, creative groups and community groups that are active in delivering cultural activities in the region. The highest concentration of creative industries activity is in Dubbo and the Mid-Western Regional Council area.
Narromine and Warrumbungle Shire town Baradine have no arts council but have an active Aboriginal arts group and Keeping Place. Gilgandra is the only council with a Cultural Officer, who works two days a week. The Warrumbungle Shire provides each of their towns with a Community Development Officer, who assists with community and cultural activities.
Dubbo has established itself as a cultural hub for the region with the development of a tiered 500 seat theatre, the Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre (DRTCC). In addition, The Western Plains Cultural Centre (WPCC) – established in 2006 – houses the Dubbo Regional Gallery, Museum, Black Box Theatre and Community Art Centre. The WPCC has been recognised for their ability to present major metropolitan and interstate exhibitions to the region.
Most of the towns in the region have established historical societies that oversee volunteer-run museums relevant to their communities, such as the Gilgandra Rural Museum, Pioneer Museum in Gulgong, Aviation Museum in Narromine, Coo-ee Heritage Centre in Gilgandra and Mid-Western Region’s Kandos Museum.
Local Government Areas
Dubbo is a regional centre that services many smaller towns out of the region. The council has on staff two Aboriginal Liaison Officers, as well as other professional cultural staff, providing an additional $4.9 million annual investment in the DRTCC and WPCC.
All councils have recently participated in a strategic review, in which many outlined their cultural directives as they relate to the NSW 2021 plan. Both Mid-Western Regional Council and Dubbo Region have a Public Art Strategy. Coolah – a village in the Warrumbungle Shire – has a Public Art Policy endorsed by the Council.
Gilgandra and Narromine have no cultural policy, although Gilgandra does have a Cultural Officer. Both councils view their support of Orana Arts as a key deliverable on the cultural needs of the community.
Dubbo Region hosts Orana Arts at the WPCC, providing in-kind office space, IT support and access to council facilities.
The region includes three amalgamated councils: Dubbo Region, Warrumbungle Shire and Mid-Western Region.
As of 2010 Dubbo has a state of the art theatre and convention complex that tours major performing companies such as Bell Shakespeare, Australian Ballet and Bangarra. It also caters to major trade shows for the region.
Dubbo also has two independent theatre companies – Dubbo Theatre Company and Wesley House Players – as well as active youth performance groups.
The town of Mudgee in the Mid-Western LGA has a renovated theatre and library in the old town hall, a beautiful heritage listed building. This theatre can hold small touring shows and has hosted shows presented by Critical Stages. The Mid Western LGA, which includes Gulgong, Mudgee and Rylstone, also has three independent theatre companies that stage local performances on a regular basis.
Coonabarabran, Coolah and Wellington all boast community theatre collectives who rehearse and perform shows throughout the year.
All councils have some form of arts and craft society. Dubbo Region and Warrumbungle Shire are active in producing bi-annual and annual shows respectively. Dubbo has an active artist group, Fresh Arts, and arts council Dubbo Artz has been running for 70 years, while the Mudgee Arts Council and Mudgee Underground support the local arts scene in the Mid-Western Region.
The region also has a strong ceramics focus both in the Warrumbungles and the Mid-Western LGA. Pilliga Pottery is a 3,500 hectare property catering to ceramists, which hosts international artists throughout the year. The Country Claymakers in Mudgee runs an annual exhibition and Clay Gulgong is a major biennial event, bringing potters from around the world to the region.
Sculptures in the Garden and Rylstone Sculptures Inc. present major events that bring permanent public artworks to the Mid-Western Region. Sculptures in the Garden has an ongoing partnership with Mid-Western Regional Council that has so far resulted in over a dozen sculptures in the public sculpture walk.
The region also boasts many small galleries, including the Pandora Gallery in Coolah, Gilgandra Art Gallery, Gallery 47 in Rylstone, Gallery Gulgong (run by the Gulgong Arts Council), and Artisan on Lewis and Fairview Artspace in Mudgee.
The Orana Region has strong writing communities that facilitate workshops for writers: Point Blank Writers in Gilgandra, Coona Writers, Cudgegong Valley Writers and the Orana Writers’ Hub. The Outback Writers’ Centre in Dubbo runs workshops and writers groups as well as an annual festival, WestWordsFest. The Mudgee Readers’ Festival is an annual event that shares the joys of reading. Libraries across the region also run events throughout the year and stock books by local authors.
Music and Dance
The Macquarie Conservatorium of Music runs out of Dubbo. Gulgong runs regular folk music events. There is a strong eisteddfod culture throughout the region, showcasing the work of young musicians and dancers, and private dance schools and music teachers operate across the region. Major music events include: Day on the Green in Mudgee, Huntington Music Festival in Mudgee, Tunes on the Turf in Dunedoo plus regular gigs in Dubbo through the Midnite Café and Lust for Live.
The Orana Region is home to several diverse community festivals. In Dubbo there is the Dubbo Jazz Festival, the One Eye Film Festival, WestWords Fest and the Dubbo Regional Entertainment Arts Music (DREAM) Festival. The Mid-Western LGA has the Gulgong Folk Festival, Cementa (bi-annual contemporary arts festival), Mudgee Readers’ Festival and Clay Gulgong. Art Unlimited is a three-day visual arts festival in Dunedoo that has been growing popularity throughout the country for the last eight years.
- Taronga Western Plains Zoo
- Old Dubbo Goal
- Shoyoen Sister City Garden & Biodiversity Garden
- Western Plains Cultural Centre
- Dundullimal Homestead
- Wellington Caves
- Burrendong Dam – Wellington
- Burrendong Arboretum – Wellington
- Local Cellar Doors
- Dunns Swamp
- The Drip
- Siding Springs Observatory
- Warrumbungle National Park
- Pillaga Forrest
- Narromine Aviation Museum
- Narromine Wetlands
KEY ISSUES AND TRENDS
- Uncertainty of covering costs of touring shows.
- Audience attendance and development.
- Accessing local theatre company productions by other communities.
- Trends for smaller towns to highlight their best venues with events and community activities.
- Economic support and investment by LGAs for non-art venues. Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) & Aboriginal Arts Activity
- Lack of involvement by Aboriginal artists from the region.
- Limited access to funding for professional development.
- Needs higher profile within LGAs. Career Pathways
- Access to creative industries.
- Concerns are still growing with communities about availability of professional opportunities for the creative industries.
Education and Training
- TAFE cuts to arts education.
- Visual artists are engaging in more workshops to address the short falls in arts education in the region.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as identified by key sector representatives are as follows:
- Small geographical region (able to provide services across all communities in each LGA).
- WPCC and DRTCC contribute to audience development opportunities.
- Plenty of grass-root events within two hours of communities.
- Quality of lifestyle.
- Engaged and generous arts practitioners.
- Lack of cultural officer positions within local government areas.
- Limited support for local artists.
- Many art forms supported, however, there is a real lack of specialists.
- Councils reluctant to think creatively about how arts and culture can fulfil their social and community objectives and programs.
- Lack of suitable infrastructure for visual and performing arts product in some areas.
- Heavy reliance on volunteers.
- Key people are drivers in communities, possibility of burn out.
- Funding cuts to TAFE and arts programs.
- Community issues from amalgamated council areas.
- Communication breakdown among sectors.
- Regional growth and development within some sectors.
- New partnerships and flagship festivals: community driven.
- Growing support and sponsorship from local business.
- Youth initiatives.
- Synergies between regional tourism and arts organisations.
- Dedicated cultural development budget in line with Council programs.
- Increased frequency of touring visual and performance arts.
- New community initiatives through Health Services.
- Development of cultural ‘clusters’ or interest groups, through activities such as Cementa.
- Dubbo developing strong infrastructure with WPCC and DRTCC
- Regional Arts Australia Conference in Dubbo 2016.
- Partnerships between regional artists and galleries to support tours: for instance, Pandora Gallery in Coolah and WPCC in Dubbo hosting travelling exhibitions.
- Volunteer burnout.
- Maintaining strong arts groups.
- High cost of touring product limits access.
- High cost of insuring volunteer organisations.
- Lack of communication and support between communities
- Funding within a tight fiscal environment.
- Council and community apathy.
- Lack of young people (18–25) in smaller communities.
- Lack of resources to support community initiatives.