The start of the year always brings a sense of possibilities. I am an optimist. Despite the many problems that the world faces at the moment, not to mention all of our own challenges, there is a sense of opportunity, of building on our previous work, of working with new relationships, and trying some new directions.

We’ve also learnt to be wary of our own expectations. Recent years have rarely delivered what we expected. The trajectory of the pandemic and the rather lumpy recovery that the arts has experienced was not what we anticipated in recent years. And even this summer has given us a few surprises, with an El Nino weather pattern that looks nothing like the El Nino we were expecting. You would think that working in the creative area of arts and culture would equip us well to both imagine future possibilities and to respond to surprise, but sometimes even creative people still struggle to roll with the punches.

In 2024 we start the year with both a National and State arts policy in place, but what this really means for the sector remains to be seen. As we approach the first anniversary of Revive we can certainly see many of the directions and commitments of that national policy taking shape. This is probably most evident at Creative Australia, but certainly the increase in RAF funding has made a significant impact in our own neck of the woods. Meanwhile the new NSW policy has articulated a desire to connect up across the arts sector and creative industries, and to make stronger links across all of government, but the detail of what this looks like is yet to emerge. Maybe it too will give us a few surprises – hopefully good ones!

For me, one of the most exciting things that I’m looking forward to in 2024 is a range of new partnerships we are entering into at RANSW, with projects attached to them. Bringing different people together to find ways of collaborating and benefitting from each other’s strengths is something that can extend and enrich the way we practice. I’m also looking forward to continuing with our women’s creative business program, Work of Art. This has already been such a rich experience and I can’t wait to see where this year takes us. And at the end of the year- in mid-November in Orange in Central NSW – we are going to showcase their work and have a forum on what it means to be a regional artist in NSW. You’re all invited, so that’s another thing to look forward to.

So, here’s to an exciting, enriching, and possibly unexpected 2024.