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

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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

In England’s navel

Wirksworth nestles in the valley of the Ecclesbourne, a trickle the locals call a river. DH Lawrence, who lived here in 1918, called this town “the navel of England”. We visiting Australians are living at the navel’s very centre, in a couple of houses older than European settlement in our homeland: all locally quarried stone, rickety stairways and small-paned windows overlooking a jumble of slate roofs and chimney pots and, beyond them, a view of dalesides dotted with contented sheep and cows. I’m in White Lion House, a former pub on Coldwell Street opposite the Baptist Church. Continue reading