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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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

Transforming a country town with art

It was true. Arts makers and arts lovers really did take over Wirksworth on the first weekend of this town’s rural arts festival in September 2013. Shop windows filled with contemporary arts and craftsworks, even the local fish and chip shop; the churches too. Dozens of locals offered their houses, gardens and sheds as galleries and willingly allowed artists to fill their walls, shelves and floor spaces with foreign objects, and let complete strangers to wander through their inner sanctums. 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