The National Stage
1998 represented a new high watermark for the newly established organisation and for regional arts on a national scale. Having begun to broaden our scope to embrace the multiplicity of arts being practiced in regional South Australia, we were instrumental in the resolution to do the same on a national scale.
Recognising that it was time to move beyond the bipartite model of touring city-produced arts to regional spectators on the one hand and funding democratic community art making on the other, state and territory bodies resolved that it should be reconstituted to form a new national peak advocacy body, Regional Arts Australia, to focus also on the many professional artists living outside urban capitals, advocacy for the sector at federal level, training for the vast volunteer workforce which keeps regional arts functioning and funding models to cater for the arts’ changing landscape. With Country Arts SA at the helm for a number of years thereafter, millions of new dollars flowed into regional and remote Australia to meet the demand for projects, artist support and for five years of accredited training to the nations arts and museums volunteers through Creative Volunteering—No Limits.
That same year, in Mount Gambier, we masterminded the largest national arts gathering of any kind so far seen in Australia for artists, artsworkers, volunteers and a growing body of non-arts collaborators, with shared interests, to debate the issues at stake, along with the launch of the first of many publications celebrating regional arts.
Twenty years later, the biennial event still cycles between states and when our turn came again in 2012, we set another high-water mark with Kumuwuki / Big Wave in Goolwa with not only a first-time indigenous title and the largest ever national survey of disability-led digital artwork but also an artist and community-driven program set in the context of the concurrent Regional Centre of Culture (RCC), a model now emulated in other states.