SOUTH WEST ARTS REGIONAL SNAPSHOT 2014
The South West region covers an area of 81,000 square kilometres and a total population of approximately 40,421. The region is particularly well known for the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers, being dubbed ‘The Plains’ due to its very flat geography and being a predominantly agricultural region.
The region, as serviced by South West Arts, comprises ten LGAs:
- Balranald Shire Council – 2,361 pop (main town Balranald)
- Berrigan Shire Council – 8,282 pop (main town Finley)
- Carrathool Shire Council – 2,668 pop (main town Hillston)
- Conargo Shire Council – 1,585 pop (The Shire’s office is based in Deniliquin as there is no town in the shire just five small villages)
- Deniliquin Council – 7,317 pop (main town Deniliquin with a very small land mass only 143.2 square km)
- Hay Shire Council – 3,097 pop (main town Hay)
- Murray Shire Council – 7,159 pop (main town Moama)
- Murrumbidgee Shire Council – 2,338 pop (main town Coleambally)
- Wakool Shire Council – 4,080 pop (main town Barham)
- Jerilderie Shire Council – 1,534 pop (main town Jerilderie)
The main industries and employers in the region include:
- Agriculture – rice, cotton, wheat, sheep, dairy, vegetables
- Deniliquin Rice Mill
- Local Councils
- Intereach – community service provider that services and has offices throughout the Riverina with the main office in Deniliquin
- Public Schools
The region has very active amateur visual arts groups, some with their own volunteer-run galleries, throughout the region and a large number of volunteer-run museums. There is a small amount of amateur dramatic societies in the region as well as a few small amateur bands, choirs and music ensembles.
Outback Theatre for Young People (professional fully-funded organisation based in Deniliquin), South West Music (local conservatorium of music), the Deniliquin Ute Muster (major annual festival) and Shear Outback (purpose built and professionally staffed museum in Hay).
The only purpose built cultural infrastructure in the region is the Shear Outback Museum. The Ute Muster site has been developed as a major regional festival site. There is no gallery, theatre or cinema in the entire region.
The Deniliquin Ute muster site is being upgraded to become a major regional festival site and hosted an off shoot of the Bryon Bay Blues and Roots festival over Easter 2013.
KEY ISSUES AND TRENDS
- Little purpose built arts infrastructure.
- Very small populations of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) and Aboriginal people.
- Very little opportunity for artistic career pathways.
- No education and training facilities that offer arts based courses.
- Low art appreciation or participation in the arts within the region with most people making statements like, ‘I don’t have anything to do with the arts’.
- Small number of professional arts organisations – Outback Theatre for Young People, South West Music, Deniliquin Play on the Plains festival and Shear Outback.
- Limited touring of visual and performing arts in the region mainly due to the lack of professionally managed venues.
- Community and professional performances take place in a diverse range of venues including pubs, clubs, community halls, churches, school halls and libraries.
- Audience development is a challenge due to the small population spread over a large geographical area. It is also a low socioeconomic area.
- Professionally lead youth theatre with Outback Theatre for Young People.
- Regional Conservatorium of Music based in Deniliquin – South West Music.
- Major festival site and annual festival – Deniliquin Ute Muster.
- Purpose built museum – Shear Outback.
- Nine to ten LGAs financially contributing to South West Arts.
- Small population over a large geographical area.
- Low socio-economic area.
- Limited cultural infrastructure.
- Limited number of arts professionals.
- Limited creative industries development.
- Strategic partnerships – diversity.
- Opportunity around sustained engagement made possible via technology (i.e. NBN).
- Opportunities for arts and cultural infrastructure within the region.
- Schools, vocational training and the national curriculum.
- Meaningful and rewarding volunteer experiences.
- Financial support within a tight fiscal environment.
- Impact of possible council amalgamations.
- Increasing competition within the region for limited arts funding.
- Limited audience with interest in arts and culture.
- Youth leaving the region for metropolitan areas.
- Aging population and low socio-economic profile.
Aboriginal Population and Language Groups
- 1,500 Aboriginal people live in the region (approximately 4% of the general area population)
- The highest concentration of Aboriginal people live in Murrumbidgee Shire and Balranald
Indigenous Arts Organisations