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. 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: Prof Brydie-Leigh Bartleet (Griffith University), A/Prof  Sandy O’Sullivan (Wiradjuri, University of the Sunshine Coast), A/Prof Naomi Sunderland (Wiradjuri, Griffith University), and Dr Sarah Woodland (Research Fellow, Griffith University). The partner organization representatives are: 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 supports 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 provides resources that can be taken up and adapted by communities engaging in regional development across Australia. These outputs include, research-based models of how to support the arts in remote areas, a survey of current arts activities and strengths across the Barkly region, and collaborative recommendations that can be applied in the Barkly and other regions.

What the research team did in the region?

The research team were 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 gathered 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 implemented a survey with 120 individual artists and creatives, and interviewed key people from 36 arts and non-arts organisations involved in arts delivery in the region.
  2. Case studies of Arts programs: The research team conducted three in-depth case studies to provide a clearer picture of how the arts sector can work in the Barkly region. The case studies were (1) Barkly Regional Arts, (2) The Desert Harmony Festival, and (3) Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre (Ali Curung).

How long did this project go for?

The project is a three-year project that concluded in October 2019, however, the researchers will continue to publish papers from the study, and are supporting stakeholders and industry partners to carry forward the recommendations from the research.

What were the research outputs and outcomes?

A preliminary report outlining the findings of the mapping process for a wide range of stakeholders’ feedback in the region;

A major report outlining the key findings of this research, which has been distributed to communities and key stakeholders in the Barkly Region and Northern Territory (in hard copy) and available for free download online;

A summary brochure highlighting the key findings of the research as well as recommendations for the communities, government, industry, and the arts and creative sector;

Summary factsheets of the key mapping findings:

Snapshot of Arts in the Barkly

Creative Barkly Summary Recommendations

Reports on the Desert Harmony Festival in 2017 and 2018 based on audience surveys, with a total of 209 participants across both years of the festival;

Peer reviewed academic papers (forthcoming);

Presentations at national conferences and symposia, such as the Developing the North Conference (Alice Springs), the Cultural Economics Conference (Melbourne), the Indigenous Music and Dance Symposium (Perth), and the Arts-Health Network Queensland Forum (Brisbane); and

A series of meetings in Tennant Creek to share the findings and recommendations with stakeholders, a sector information session in Alice Springs, a presentation to the Barkly Regional Governance Table (part of the Regional Deal), and meetings with both the BRA Board and staff and RDANT Committee and staff.

All outputs from the research were designed to ensure maximum usefulness for artists living and working in the Barkly, and those supporting the arts and cultural sector in this region.