The last few weeks have had a very political flavour – I can’t imagine why!
Here at Regional Arts NSW (RANSW) we interact with all three levels of government, and while state politics are to the fore at the moment, we continue building our relationships with other levels of government.
Local government remains very important to RANSW and to the NSW Regional Arts Network. Councils are financial stakeholders in the network as they contribute to their RADOs. There are currently 90 LGAs that sit within the NSW RADO boundaries, and at the moment only five of these choose not to be financial contributors. Councils are major providers of cultural infrastructure and services in regional NSW, but I think it’s fair to say that the arts and sector and local government don’t always speak the same language. I believe it is vital that we continue to work to bridge this divide and make sure that we’re making the most out of the relationships across the two sectors, supporting in the areas of common purpose which can extend into all sorts of council business. At the moment we are working on strengthening the links with Local Government NSW. We also recently had a session at with RADO EDs on how they can work effectively with the Joint Organisations of Council led by RANSW board member Jenny Bennett.
Meanwhile, with Create NSW investing heavily in the RADOs, RANSW has been playing an active role in bringing people together in the area of state government. There is work to do in further re-building our relationship with Create NSW but we are approaching this with positivity and goodwill, while at the same time also considering other parts of state government that are also connected to arts practice. Arts and culture has too long been siloed into its own separate category when the reality is that the work we all do in our sector impacts across many different parts of government. We need to all be talking together and sharing outcomes to maximise what can be achieved across the whole of government.
As part of the election process it has been great to be able to present the position of both our Shadow Arts Minister, John Graham and our current Minister Ben Franklin through our online discussion platform The Country Air. The recording of the session with John Graham can be accessed through our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/@RANSW/videos while the session with Ben Franklin is coming up on Wednesday morning, 22nd March at 10am. The recording of this will also be available soon after the event.
Finally, at Federal level we continue to work on the response to the National Cultural Policy. I ran into my own local member, Andrew Gee recently when I was out and about judging part of the Portland Art Prize, and talked to him about the policy as well his decision to become an Independent because of his commitment to the response to the Uluru statement and the Voice to Parliament. I also spent some excellent time in Orange talking to the Government’s Special Envoy to the Arts, Susan Templeman on many of the topics within Revive. We spoke about the increase in funding to the Regional Arts Fund and where we see the greatest area of need, our concerns about NSW receiving less funding towards First Nations arts-workers than other stated despite being the state with the highest numbers of First Nations population, the changing nature of the regional landscape for the arts and the need to ensure that opportunities are provided, the welcome inclusion of arts and health in the policy and the way that workplace reform will be worked on. It was great to be able to have a conversation where our regional perspectives were listened to and I found Susan very supportive.
Our RADOs do a great job of providing the on-the ground support for arts and culture, but our role as a state body is in bringing this work together, representing NSW’s regional arts sector, telling the stories of the sector, putting together the evidence of activity and success and connecting people. And just lately, that certainly has been keeping us busy.