What is this project about?

This project looks at creative and performing arts activities across the Barkly to understand the role of the arts in community and regional development. The project will deliver information back to the Region that will be helpful in planning the future of arts across the Barkly. Planning and partnership building for this project has been undertaken over the past six years and has involved many phases of discussion and consultations with artists, elders, partner organisations, and community arts workers.

Who is involved?

The research team includes: A/Prof Brydie-Leigh Bartleet (Griffith University), Dr Sandy O’Sullivan (University of the Sunshine Coast), Dr Naomi Sunderland (Griffith University), Prof Phil Hayward (Southern Cross University), and Dr Sarah Woodland (Research Fellow, Griffith University). The partner organization representatives include: Alan Murn (Barkly Regional Arts) and Dr Robin Gregory (Regional Development Australia, NT). The project also has an Advisory Group of Elders, leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, policy makers, industry professionals, academics, and two international experts.

Who is funding this?

It is funded by an Australia Research Council Linkage grant (2016-2019), and is a partnership between Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Barkly Regional Arts (BRA), Regional Development Australia NT (RDANT), University of the Sunshine Coast and Southern Cross University.

Why is this project necessary?

Governments, academics, and industry are recognising more and more that the arts and creative sector plays a big role in regional development. Despite this, very little is known about how the sector actually supports Australia’s remotest communities and regions. The Creative Barkly project will examine how the arts and creative sector is currently working in remote Australia and how it might further enable community and regional development in the future.

This research will support government agencies, arts organisations and local businesses to work strategically with diverse artists in this region by providing research-based evidence on the social, economic, and cultural potential of the arts. Creative Barkly will provide resources that can be taken up and adapted by communities engaging in regional development across Australia. These outputs will include, for example, research-based models of how to support the arts in remote areas, a map of current arts activities and strengths across the Barkly region, and collaborative recommendations that can be applied in the Barkly and other regions.

What will the research team be doing in the region?

The research team will be involved in two major activities explained below.

  1. Mapping the arts sector in the Barkly region: The first research activity involves mapping the current arts sector in the Barkly Region. To do this the research team will be gathering information about the kinds of activities that Barkly artists and creative workers are involved in and how they are being supported by other people, organisations, and networks in the region. The team will be implementing a survey with individual artists, and doing interviews with key people from arts and non-arts organisations.
  2. Case studies of Arts programs: The research team will also be doing in-depth case studies of specific practices and programs to provide a clearer picture of how the arts sector can work in the Barkly region. The case studies will be drawn largely from the work of BRA, but will focus on a range of different arts programs, for example, long term projects, short term projects, travelling programs, festivals, visual arts, music, and so on.

How long does this project go for?

The project is a three-year project and will run until approximately December 2019.

What will the project be delivering?

The project will deliver the following outputs which have been negotiated with the project partners and Advisory Group:

  1. Two workshops in Barkly communities and a 2-day symposium in Tennant Creek or Alice Springs (e.g. at the Desert Peoples Centre). These events will target artists and arts workers, arts organisations, NGOs, politicians and policy makers in the region, and broader NT and focus on the current realities and future growth potential identified in the study, and how to apply the research findings to their particular contexts;
  2. Presentations at partner professional development workshops and national and international conferences;
  3. Four publications in international peer reviewed academic journals;
  4. A detailed printed/online report and a short plain English version for communities;
  5. A summary brochure with models of best practice, mapping outcomes, actions and recommendations.

These outputs will all be designed to ensure maximum usefulness for artists living and working in the Barkly, and those supporting the arts and cultural sector in this region.