ORANA ARTS REGIONAL SNAPSHOT 2014
The Orana region covers 31,562 square kilometres and has a total population of approximately 82,456 people. It incorporates five LGAs – Dubbo City, Gilgandra, Mid-Western Region, Narromine 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, assisting with 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 City – Pop. 38,802
- Gilgandra Shire Council – Pop. 4,368
- Mid-Western Regional Council – Pop. 22,677 (major town Mudgee)
- Narromine Shire Council – Pop. 2,939
- Warrumbungle Shire Council – 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 Baradine (Warrumbungle Shire) 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, but the position is currently under review. The Warrumbungle Shire provides each of their towns with a Community Development Officer that assists with community and cultural activities.
Dubbo has established itself as a cultural hub for the region with the development of a tiered theatre seating 500, 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 and Community Art Space. 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 run museums that are relevant to their communities, such as the Gilgandra Rural Museum, Pioneer Museum in Gulgong, Aviation Museum in Narromine, Coo-ee Museum in Gilgandra and Kandos Museum, Kandos (Mid-Western).
Local Government Areas
Dubbo is a regional centre that services many smaller towns out of the region. Although the council does not have a Cultural Officer on staff, it does have an Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Events Manager, and provides much support to the creative community organisations.
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 City are working on a Public Art Strategy. 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. Gilgandra Shire hosts Orana Arts providing in-kind office space, IT support and access to council facilities.
The region includes two recently amalgamated councils, 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 three independent theatre companies – Dubbo Theatre Company, Wesley House Players and The Western Plains Theatre Group. Wesley House Players runs their performance from the Wesley Community Theatre. All three groups are active year round and the newest ITC, Western Plains group, has initiated touring their performance to Mudgee and Coonabarabran.
In 2013 a performing arts collective was formed by several experienced regional playwrights and actors. Triple Oh Production, is a collaboration between the Mid-Western and Dubbo performing arts sector intent on providing a public voice for theatre practitioners who want to improve their 91 practice and perform cutting edge Australian contemporary pieces in regional New South Wales.
The town of Mudgee in the Mid-Western LGA has just renovated their theatre and library in the old town hall, a beautiful heritage listed building. This theatre can only hold small touring shows. The Mid Western LGA, which includes Gulgong, Mudgee and Hargraves, also has three independent theatre companies that stage local performances on a regular base.
All councils have some form of arts and craft society. Dubbo and Warrumbungle are active in producing bi-annual and annual shows respectively. Dubbo has an active artist group, Fresh Arts, while Mudgee’s former TAFE arts teachers have formed a creative collective to fill the gap that was created by the TAFE funding cuts. Mudgee Creatives host workshops and assist preparation of art portfolios. The region also has a strong ceramics focus both in the Warrumbungles and the Mid-Western LGA. The Pilliga Pottery is a 3,500 hectare property catering to ceramists which hosts international artists throughout the year.
Other Art Forms
Both Dubbo and the Mid-Western LGA have strong writing communities that facilitate workshops for regional writers.
The Orana region is home to several diverse community festivals. In Dubbo there is the Red Ochre Festival (local Aboriginal festival), the MultiCulture Festival, Dubbo Jazz Festival, and the Dubbo Regional Entertainment Arts Music (DREAM) Festival. The Mid-Western LGA has the Gulgong Folk Festival, Cementa (bi-annual contemporary arts festival), Mudfest (international film festival); Mudgee Readers Festival, and Mudgee Food and Wine Month. 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
- Local Cellar Doors
- Dunn Swamp
- Siding Springs Observatory
- Warrumbungle National Park
In 2013 OA partnered with Dubbo Local Aboriginal Land Council to initiate the Fire Station Arts Centre. The premise behind the Fire Station is to provide Orana and visiting performing and visual arts communities with space to create. The main objectives of the Fire Station are to:
1. Improve local community participation and cohesion through the delivery of creative activities.
2. Support creative development in the region through the creation of an accessible community spirited space.
3. Creation of artistic opportunities in the community.
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.
- Some good grass root events within two hours of communities.
- Quality of lifestyle.
- Fire Station Arts Centre- the space has provided opportunities for artists to engage with each other and promote their work. Communities outside of Dubbo have engaged with the space.
- Lack of cultural officer positions within local government areas.
- Limited support for local artists.
- Many art forms supported however 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.
- 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 Western Plains Cultural Centre, Regional Theatre and Convention Centre.
- Regional Arts Australia Conference in Dubbo 2016.
- Fire Station Arts Centre- becoming the creative hub.
- 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.
Aboriginal Population and Language Groups
- Almost 7,500 Aboriginal people live in the region (approximately 10% of the general area population)
- Highest concentration of Aboriginal people live in Narromine, followed by Gilgandra and Dubbo City
Orana Arts Aboriginal Arts Development
- In 2012 Orana Arts commenced sponsorship of an Aboriginal Art Prize in Art Unlimited, supported Central West Aboriginal Arts Development Officer in partnership with Arts OutWest, began offering the service to create and maintain CVs for all Aboriginal Artists in Orana Arts region, ran a copyright workshop for Indigenous artists and arts workers with Viscopy in Dubbo and Coonabarabran and increased networking opportunities and individual support for Aboriginal artists
- In March 2013 an Aboriginal Arts Development Officer was appointed through funding support from the Australian government’s Office for the Arts. This position aims to support the development and sustainability of a vibrant Aboriginal arts and crafts industry in the Orana region.
Festivals Red Ochre Festival Aboriginal Arts Organisations
Aboriginal Arts Training Institutions