Esperance Arts Out There Column: The value of art to a community.

All hands on deck: Getting the puppets ready for the opening event at the Festival of the Wind. Photo: Esperance Community Arts.

All hands on deck: Getting the puppets ready for the opening event at the Festival of the Wind. Photo: Esperance Community Arts.

HOW to determine the importance of the arts in this region has been a topic of discussion over many years and central to this discussion has been sustainability and measuring the value of arts to community life.

We know the arts create value in so many ways.

That value is often measured by participation rates, audience numbers and anecdotal feedback, but it doesn’t stop there.

The arts shows up to a lot of community events, thinks big (just look at the 2017 festival program), attracts a crowd and creates the space for people to work, alone or connected to a group, the space for people to experience the world around them in creative ways.

The Esperance Arts Review has been an important means of providing a helicopter view of the arts in Esperance, who participates and in what way. It has also provided some insight into what we can do better in the arts. 

As the response to the report nears completion there is a sense of excitement about how committed people are to the arts, and about what lies ahead.

In framing a response to the Review it has become clear that people want to focus on what the arts means to the community, not just what it costs.

Thanks to the efforts of current executive officer, and the volunteer committee, Esperance Community Arts has increased grant funding from $115,000 in 2012 to $447,000 of confirmed funding by the end of 2016. 

For every ratepayer dollar invested in Esperance Community Arts last year, we have been able to leverage a further $9 for community projects, a good return on investment. With increased funding support for administration allocated by Country Arts WA, this figure is set to rise.

Did you know that Esperance Community Arts is one of two arts organisations in the state who receive the peak level of funding through Country Arts WA’s Core Arts Fund? This funding is recognition of a strong performance over 20 years and it is an achievement the people of Esperance can celebrate.

While the arts might appear to be less structured than other community activities, it is often this fluidity that helps us to connect with people of all ages and abilities. Arts events and activities can help us to create shared community memories in the same way that a song connects us to a time or place.

Creative: Some of the puppets the community have made for the Mandaboornap Dreaming Puppet Project. Photo: Esperance Community Arts.

Creative: Some of the puppets the community have made for the Mandaboornap Dreaming Puppet Project. Photo: Esperance Community Arts.

The excitement of seeing the Whale Tail sculpture project unfold, the much talked about performance of Cabaret at the Bijou Theatre or the pride of seeing children perform on stage at the Music Festival for the first time. These connections can allow the community to find new visions and possibilities.

Work on the Mandaboornap Dreaming Puppet Project is continuing in the Esperance Community Arts space with the performance on March 16 to open the Festival of the Wind. The big event in the March calendar is the Festival of the Wind from March 13-19, with an exciting and extensive program available on the Festival website. Feature events are Art for Esperance - a mural project, Cliffs Sand Sculptures, Art to Wear, The Hub, Sounds at the Soundshell, Resonate After Dark and Taste of Esperance.

If you can volunteer any time to support the Festival please contact them by their website. The Festival team would love to hear from you.

For more information on any of these events contact Esperance Community Arts on 9072 1158, email admin@esperanecommunityarts.org.au, visit our website or message us on Facebook or Instagram. 

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