I don’t know where this last part of the year goes. Every year, the last few months fly by so quickly, and suddenly, the year is over. 2023 is no exception.

One of the things I enjoy in November is that we hold one of the three RADO face-to-face meetings that happen each year. The Executive Directors from the Regional Arts Development Organisations across NSW will descend on Sydney this week for two days of discussion, learning and sharing. It’s great for everyone to have a chance to meet face-to-face a few times a year. One of the highlights this time is that we will be having a few hours with Patternmakers, who, as one of Australia’s leading research bodies in the arts sector, have been commissioned by us at RANSW to use regional data to produce a series of fact sheets about what is happening across NSW. I am a big believer in having the evidence to back up the decisions we make, and we are sharing this with our RADO member network to ensure that they have the facts and figures at their fingertips to support not only their own decision-making but also have the information that will assist other stakeholders to understand how things work in regional arts and why a robust arts and creative industries sector is so vital in keeping our regional communities strong and our regional artists viable and connected.

People often ask me why Regional Arts is located in Sydney and not regionally. Meetings like these are one of the many reasons. When our network comes together to meet, it is much easier for everyone to make their way to Sydney rather than to another regional centre. We are also located in the city because, as the peak body, we have easier access to politicians, other arts organisations, key connections, and a range of services. We’re also able to offer the service to anyone who subscribes as a member of Regional Arts to use a desk in our office if they need it when they’re in Sydney. It is the RADOs that are based in the regions and who are responsible for the on-the-ground delivery, while our role is to connect it all up and amplify the regional arts voice. But I’m glad too that I still spend some of my time back home in Bathurst and still conduct my lovely community choir there.

Last month, we had Edna Boey join our team, and next week, we hit the road for a two-week trip. This is part of our Work of Art program, and I am looking forward to meeting up in-person with the women we have been working with since August in our program of development for creative business. It will also be a great chance to catch up with other key stakeholders in the regions and show Edna some of what’s happening in the wonderful world of regional arts in NSW. Nowra, Wagga Wagga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Tamworth and Coffs Harbour – not to mention a few places in-between – here we come! While on the road, I’m also looking forward to seeing the One Eye Film Festival in Dubbo, which I curated with Dubbo Filmmakers.

So, the pace is rather relentless as we head towards the end of 2023, and I’ve been busy developing several new partnerships that I think will be positive developments in 2024. I hear that the new NSW arts policy is on track to launch before the year ends. These are challenging times in some ways, both in general and more specifically for the arts sector, as the regional touring area has sadly demonstrated in recent times with the loss of Critical Stages. Still, tough times call for creative responses and at Regional Arts NSW, we’re certainly up for that.