Country Arts SA 25

Country Arts SA 25 Years: The Art of Inspiring Communities

1993 - 2018

Art – an image, a song, a poem – is the means by which human beings seek to understand themselves, make sense of the world and communicate their thoughts, feelings and beliefs to others. To be able to share and express ourselves through art is a human right. Children who are encouraged to be imaginative grow to be the world’s architects, engineers, inventors, innovators and artists in all walks of life, and to inspire our children in return.


Access to inspiration, knowledge and services isn’t a level playing field. For people living in regional and remote areas this can be a challenge, but not a disadvantage. Regional people work more closely together and rely on each other more. Art, in many forms, brings them together and encourages ingenuity, understanding and resilience. Greater wellbeing for individuals is probable, and regeneration of entire towns is possible. Its why each state in Australia has an agency dedicated specifically to regional arts.

In South Australia that body is Country Arts SA.**

We have evolved from an Act of Parliament in 1993, which brought together the functions of a number of state agencies. Five Regional Cultural Trusts and their Adelaide–based management body, the Regional Cultural Council, had been set up in the 80s as a mechanism for running our four major regional theatres* plus a network of professional arts officers, and which had assumed responsibility for the visiting artist and community grants functions of the Arts Council of SA. The SA Touring Exhibitions Program delivering contemporary visual arts to regional galleries, and the central coordination of performing arts touring to smaller regional centres, (previously the responsibility of the Arts Council network***), completed the bundle.

Twenty-five years later we remain the only arts organisation in Australia with a remit to traverse all these functions and to play a national leadership role across the board. Additions to our portfolio since have been wide-ranging, their breadth apparent in the 25 significant moments to follow.

We remain the principle arms-length funding source for SA regional artists and communities, through which many exceptional projects have taken place. Nowadays, we are known for working with artists and companies to uncover stories great and small about regional South Australia and the people who live and work there, to give artists the tools to transform those stories into great art and to share them with others, whether they be nearby or far away.

To see our work in action, join us at one of the many locations across our wonderful state and explore the stories of regional South Australia.

* Mount Gambier’s Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, Renmark’s Chaffey Theatre, Whyalla’s Middleback Arts Centre and Port Pirie’s Northern Festival Centre;

***Until 1998, Country Arts SA was known as the South Australian Country Arts Trust.

**Whilst the Arts Council of SA ceased operation as the overarching peak body, many local arts councils remain active today or were re-invented by their volunteer members, and as many other organisations have emerged since to keep the ball rolling at community level.

Written and researched by Jo Pike for Country Arts SA


Evolution of an Arts Centre

Community arts spaces are living, breathing organisms whose constant change parallels the evolution of a civilised society. Over 25 years, incremental changes have influenced how people have inhabited our performing arts centres*, with additions and improvements bringing increasing accessibility, comfort and safety to these gathering places.

Read more
Read more