Farewell 2015

What a year it’s been at Regional Arts Victoria in 2015!

Education & Families ran the Creative Leadership Program with a group of impressive regional young people who are sure to become future arts leaders.

In May, we set up the yellow balloons and bunting once more for our stall at the Regional Victoria Living Expo, where we also co-curated the Arts and Culture Program with our partners Creative Victoria and Multicultural Arts Victoria.

We presented a huge two-day Showcase Victoria at Hawthorn Arts Centre with the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres (VAPAC), contributing to a better connected industry, better facilitated touring, and better cultural engagement.

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‘Opera in the Air’ performed by Isabel Hertaeg at Showcase Victoria 2015. Image: Yunis Tmeizah

Our Creative Arts Recovery Facilitators became deeply embedded within their communities of Macedon, Mitchell and Hume; Horsham and Northern Grampians; and East Gippsland. These roles will conclude at the end of January 2016, and in the meantime the team is working closely with communities to ensure a smooth exit from these areas.

Cultural Partnerships managed another year of the Regional Arts Fund, with highlights including Rail School 100 Years from Nyah West where Natimuk artist Dave Jones worked with the school and local community to create a short animated film that was projected onto the Nyah silos as part of a packed centenary celebration.

Speaking of Dave Jones, Jones’ interactive work Balance was commissioned by the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation (administered by Regional Arts Victoria) and was debuted at Nati Frinj. Regional Arts Victoria was well-represented there, with many of our staff in Natimuk for the Frinj weekend, where we enjoyed other Regional Arts Fund supported shows including Kat Pengelly’s Fashion for Funerals and Fantasy Eulogies.

Our Education & Families team delivered another strong year of taking high quality art to schools and communities across the state. HotHouse Theatre’s Warning: Small Parts at Art is… Festival in Horsham was a particular highlight, as was Eliza-Jane Gilchrist’s fabulously popular Strange Garden at the Wodonga Children’s Fair.

Our staff completed Mental Health First Aid Training, and later attended the Arts and Self-Care Forum at Footscray Community Arts Centre, where we reflected on and reaffirmed our commitment to well-being in the workplace.

Performing Arts Touring presented the Victorian Touring Workshop with Theatre Network Victoria and VAPAC. The Touring team also secured funding from Creative Victoria for the 2016-17 Touring & Engagements Project to support Victorian artists, audiences and communities. The new model will enhance the way that arts and cultural experience are travelled and enjoyed across the state.

The second iteration of Small Town Transformations was announced in October, and expressions of interest opened in November (to close 29 February 2016). We also wrapped up the 2012-14 project, with Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley MP launching a Small Town Transformation book How can art transform your town? and video at our Annual General Meeting in May, also attended by former Minister of the Arts Ted Baillieu.

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Locals getting into the spirit at Bellbrae Hall for the Home is Where the Hall is 5th birthday party. Image: Carolyn Lambert

Home is where the Hall is captivated the state in November, where we supported a whopping 73 events in halls across Victoria, Tasmania, and – for the first time – South Australia, thanks to our friends at Tasmanian Regional Arts and Country Arts South Australia. From Avon, SA, to Mallacoota, we saw dances, art exhibitions, film screenings, markets and more in much loved community halls of all shapes and sizes. Plus, we celebrated the fifth year of this great project with a special birthday party at Bellbrae Hall, with entertainment by folk duo Miles and Simone.

Through our Connecting Places program, Regional Arts Victoria also took Mikelangelo’s Cave Waits Cohen on the road to community venues in Cheshunt, Charlton, Stratford and Narbethong. Cultural Partnerships held Regional Cultural Forums from Dunkeld to Bonegilla, as well as presenting a series of regional Expert Arts events with Creative Victoria.

To top it all off, Performing Arts Touring coordinated eight national tours and nine Victorian tours, including Daniel Keene’s Mother, a one-woman show featuring Noni Hazlehurst, which won a Drama Victoria Award for Best Performance by a Theatre Company for VCE Theatre Studies.

Now, we need a break to recharge our batteries! Our office will be closed from Monday 21 December and open again on Monday 4 January.

Thanks to all our members and partners for helping us have another huge year of inspiring art across the state – we look forward to doing it all again in 2016.