Business: Outback Arts, Coonamble
As part of a broader network covering NSW, Outback Arts is a non-profit regional arts development organisation covering the Local Government areas of Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Cobar, Bogan, Warren and Coonamble.
Developed in 1999, Outback Arts is part of a network of 14 arts-based bodies all governed by Regional Arts NSW with funding distributed through Create NSW.
“Each Council pays a contribution to be part of the footprint. We secure project funding through different means,” Outback Arts Communications and Touring Coordinator Maddi Ward explained.
The organisation is based in Coonamble where there are two staff members, along with an outreach employee in Warren.
A new premises was recently established to accommodate art programs, development and training.
“We moved into the new building in 2019 and just finished renovations in late 2019,” Mrs Ward said.
“We are the only regional organisation within the network that owns their own building. It initially had a lot of smaller shops here but it had the capacity to be remodelled, to be purpose-built rather than historical.
“We have two gallery spaces, a gallery shop and a studio workspace and office.”
Outback Arts caters to artists and the broader community with its programs and facilities, adding a cultural element that may not otherwise be available.
“For artists, it’s about helping them with professional development opportunities to exhibit their art.
“For the community, we are the only organisation dedicated to looking after the arts. There’s nothing else like it. If we weren’t here, there’d be no gallery for the region.”
Mrs Ward said many tourists stop in to visit the art space, which is also beneficial for the community.
“It’s about being very accessible. We have lots of travellers, people stopping in, the location is good for that.
The gallery area hosts solo and group exhibitions for the general community to enjoy.
“It’s a space where they can come in and escape the day to day, see a show from the outside.
Among the programs offered by Outback Arts is the Weaving for Wellness tour which features touring milliner and psychotherapist Waltraud Reiner.
The tour has elements of tourism as well as aiming to benefit mental health.
“The weaving has therapeutic benefits and helps deal with life,” Mrs Ward said.
Outback Arts is also offering cultural development and support for Aboriginal artists. Their current project has been two years in the making.
“We are developing a living arts and culture snapshot of 30 artists and knowledge holders in the region which will be distributed to universities and libraries. We will also be selling it in order to put the money back into more copies, featuring more artists.”
There are also plans for the development of street art and other opportunities in Coonamble.
“It will be exciting, there are so many creative people around.”
Outback Arts have endless opportunities to reach artists and art enthusiasts.
“It has the capacity to have a natural reach. Our future is to give priority to arts, events and festivals.”