The role of the arts in regional development

The Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation’s inquiry will explore ways to increase the growth and prosperity of regional and rural Australia. AMPAG and RAA outline the role of the arts.

The role of the arts in regional development


While decentralisation of Commonwealth entities has been identified as possible way to achieve this, Committee Chair, Dr John McVeigh MP, says that the Committee wants to examine how public and private investment can help to build and sustain regional communities.

Submissions to the inquiry from AMPAG and Regional Arts Australia have focused on the social, health and economic value that the arts bring to the regions, arguing that a consideration of ‘best practice approaches’ to regional development must take into account the invaluable contribution the arts can make in that regard.

The arts can improve quality of life for regional Australians, with positive impacts on health and wellbeing. Through the arts, regional communities become more cohesive and engaged with enhanced people to people links, shared understanding, and stronger intra and intercommunity connections. The arts develop the capabilities of regional Australians through stronger educational outcomes focused on creativity and innovation to gain competitive advantage. In terms of economic value, the arts contribute to the growth and diversification of the regional economic and employment base — from local arts practice to cultural tourism, events and place making.

The 2016 Inquiry into broadcasting, online content and live production to rural and regional Australiarecommended that the Federal Government should encourage the educative role that performing arts companies play, and should maintain adequate funding for the Australia Council for the Arts’Playing Australia Fund. The inquiry also recommended that the National Touring Status (NTS) arrangement be retained and extended to additional performing arts companies.

AMPAG argues that the value of the fund in real terms has dropped significantly, despite the growing recognition of the importance of arts access, engagement and making in regional Australia, and is now insufficient to broaden the nature of tour activities and/or to responsibly increase the number of companies with NTS.

AMPAG recommends that an increase in the Playing Australia Program of a minimum of $8 million be allocated evenly over four years from 2017–18 to 2020–21 to support additional strategic performing arts access and engagement in regional Australia; and that the number of performing arts companies operating with NTS be increased.

The submission concludes that ‘any framework for building and developing regional communities is more likely to achieve sustained improvement in liveability and community resilience if it includes an integrated long-term commitment to an arts and cultural strategy that links into health, social, education and economic plans.’

Regional Arts Australia’s (RAA’s) submission establishes a case for arts and culture as a driver of sustainable, resilient and healthy communities, particularly in regional communities.

RAA sees the arts as an important catalyst for healthy and sustainable regional communities through providing resources for creativity and community engagement, with implications here for attracting and retaining regional populations.

Arts, culture and creative industries are big business and important drivers of the economy, and there is enough evidence to show that arts and culture provide important economic stimulus for vibrant regional communities.

The RAA submission underlines the important social benefits that the arts provide for regional Australians, and also points out that arts resources are a catalyst for leveraging additional income and support for communities.

Given the important role the Regional Arts Fund plays in supporting resilient and healthy communities, the RAA recommends the value of the fund be increased to $22m over four years.

You can find the inquiry submissions

AMPAG and Regional Arts submissions:



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