Cultural events have the potential to be ‘transformative’, says Merrill Findlay, the co-organiser of last weekend’s Rural Arts and Cultural Symposium.
Held at Forbes Shire Council’s Jemalong Regional Education Centre (JREC), the symposium drew about 40 people to Forbes, including delegates from local government, tourism, the indigenous community, from the university sector and from musical, theatrical and arts institutions.
Organised by Ms Findlay, one of the founders of the Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, and Arts Out West, the symposium was an opportunity to share ideas with like-minded people.
Speaking in Sunday’s last session, Ms Findlay said she still hoped an event like the River Arts Festival could one day encompass communities from across the Lachlan catchment.
“These bigger events with more resources from the whole region have the potential to be transformative,” she said.
“That’s my big vision.”
Guests including Musica Viva’s Countrywide program producer Richard Petkovic and Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre’s Stephen Champion expressed similar ideas.
Mr Petkovic said Musica Viva is mid-way through a restructure of the program he oversees, with the intention of collaborating more with regional communities.
The prospect of doing just that lured him to Forbes for the first time on the weekend.
“Musica Viva is in the process of restructuring our Countrywide program so that locals can get a lot more from our work, rather than us bringing ‘fly-in, fly-out’ performances to a town,” Mr Petkovic said.
“We’d like it to be much more [about] us working with communities so they can come up with their own ideas and so it is something that relates to their own life,” he said.
Mr Champion said there was a lot of scope for regional arts organisations to share resources and even share performers that they bring to the central west.
He said the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre had deliberately programmed its Inland Sea of Sound Festival to avoid a clash with Forbes’ next River Arts Festival.
Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival president Margot Jolly said collaboration was a major theme of Sunday’s symposium.
“One of the big things that has come from today’s workshop is the opportunities for sharing resources and ideas,” she said.