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Opinion piece – arts and culture – transformative opportunities for our region


Arts and culture – transformative opportunities for our region

Great South Coast Regional Partnership member Sarah Schmidt is Director of the Hamilton Gallery, one of Victoria’s key regional galleries. Here she writes on arts and culture, one of the Partnership’s key priorities.

Cultural industries can be transformative, offering community expression, economic development and renewal opportunities, especially to regional areas and challenged economies. Population attraction via creative economies, quality facilities and community connection around culture, is proven. But it requires vision, bold vision, long term vision and an open-minded and progressive vision to embrace the possibilities around culture. Our Regional Partnership, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is about to develop a Regional Creative Industries Strategy for the Great South Coast that takes a visionary approach.

The strategy is about a vibrant arts life being stimulated in our community. But it is also about building a visitor economy via our remarkable assets. The region contains some of Victoria’s most iconic landscapes and Aboriginal places, important places of Indigenous cultural heritage. Our region boasts Gariwerd - The Grampians, The Shipwreck Coast, and Lake Condah and Budj Bim which hold the potential of World Heritage Listing. There are major cultural tourist attractions. We have two of Victoria’s key regional galleries, numerous performing arts centres, and well attended festivals. Our facilities are community hubs, often built up by the effort of local individuals over many generations, and they attract visitors and new residents to our region. There is a strong live music culture supporting an active local scene with festivals and small venues. This is an excellent foundation for the growth of a cultural industry in our region.

The Great South Coast regional strategy will support making the case for investment in maintaining, modernising and expanding and building cultural facilities across the Great South Coast. We have communities who demonstrate strong usage of cultural infrastructure but who are now attending often tired facilities that may no longer always meet the standards of touring bodies. We believe that the Great South Coast is deserving of first class facilities that bring you first class programming that engages the broadest scope of programming and audiences. The Great South Coast is falling behind as successive redevelopments of cultural infrastructure occur in other areas of the state. 

The Great South Coast must keep pace and our Creative Industries Strategy is the first step towards engaging with our communities, asking them what they really want in this regard, and seeking more support and funding for our artists and our facilities.

If you want to have your say about these and other important issues for our region, I strongly encourage you to come along to our next Regional Assembly on Wednesday 13 June 2018 in Hamilton.

To register to attend go to

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