What is it about Canowindra?

So what is it about Canowindra, a townlet of fewer than 2000 people in central New South Wales, that it can host a sophisticated dinner for 280 people in its historic main street, with most of the food grown within 100 miles of its little CBD? Continue reading

The Transformative Power of a Rural Arts Festival: a case study

The biennial Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival founded in Forbes, NSW, in 2010/11, has both intrinsic and instrumental value for the communities it serves, and has catalysed major cultural and social changes in the town. With culture and the creative industries having at last been acknowledged as drivers and enablers of sustainable development, this and other rural arts festivals offer valuable opportunities for collaboration between professionals working in rural and regional development fields and in the creative industries. The potential of rural festivals to enable and drive sustainable development cannot by fully realised, however, until serious capacity deficits are addressed to support the creative industries in small communities, as outlined in the UN’s 2013 Resolution 68/223. Continue reading

Improbable beginnings: my Chaos Theory of Rural Arts Festivals

“Beginnings” are arbitrary, as every storyteller knows. Any event will do, and then the next and the next in a linear sequence of apparent causality until you reach the “ending”, where all the loose strands get tied together into a nice neat conclusion. Or that’s how stories are traditionally told in my part of the world. Continue reading

Yes, but is it an arts festival ….?

Parkes, 8-12 January, 2014. This town was once known only for  wheat, sheep, gold, and The Big Dish.  Last weekend, however, it was all about big wigs, big skirts, big cars and big blokes in sequinned jumpsuits trying to look like Elvis! I watched them pass from under a tree in Clarinda Street, not far from the big bronze of Clarinda’s husband, Big Henry, for whom this town was named. Continue reading

From the UK Midlands to Central NSW

A long journey from Derbyshire’s damp green hills and dales to the wide brown plains of inland New South Wales; from Wirksworth’s Arts Festival to our own Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival back home in the small country town of Forbes. Continue reading

Australian Pavilion Exhibition, Derbyshire Ecocentre

Eat your heart out Venice Biennale, we rural Aussie arts makers have an Australian Pavilion here in Wirksworth, England, too. Ours is in the Derbyshire Ecocentre, a solar powered architectural masterpiece built from local gritstone, limestone and European Larch, with a living roof of locally endemic native plants. Locals are very proud of this building, the first in Derbyshire to meet the highest design and performance ratings of Britain’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEM). Continue reading