An open letter to our community

For almost 30 years Arts Mildura has been dedicated to the development and growth of the cultural landscape and creative industries of the Mallee and Victoria. 

Our community’s appetite for arts experiences is largely attributable to the work done over past decades by passionate, visionary individuals, who could see something others couldn’t—the unlimited potential for our regional community to become a progressive and sustainable cultural force perched on the edge of our great state, our grandest waterway, and the expanses of our country’s vast and richly mythologised interior. 

Each of these temporary custodians have left an indelible imprint on the fabric of the organisation, an accumulative effect which has contributed to making Arts Mildura the nuanced and lively organism it is today. 

Arts Mildura is a unique entity which does not invite easy comparisons; however, it does share the same rugged resourcefulness, dedication to community development, and knack for eclipsing expectations which are peculiar to successful regional arts organisations.

In these past few dark months (which has seen us displaced from our home of several years, significant staff changes and a global pandemic which has almost entirely decimated the arts industry)

Arts Mildura have re-defined our vision and are now steadfast with a new mandate that supports arts as a means for economic stimulus; arts as a generator for local jobs and skills development; arts as a major tourism driver; arts as a place to bring our community together; arts a means to shine a light on and support our incredible local producers who form Australia’s Food Bowl; arts as a way to promote Mildura and the Mallee on a national and global stage.  

Unfortunately, the Mildura (and wider Mallee) communities are hugely deficient of access to the arts on all fronts. 

Our region is one of the worst arts funded regions not only in Victoria but also nationally and our local economies are suffering without the stimulus that can be provided by arts and events that compliment other industries. 

At the end of the year Arts Mildura will be the only non-government professional arts (and events) organisation left in the region, and we are only hanging on by a thread. 

Long gone are the days of thriving street parties, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and the array of activity that was created by Arts Mildura and provided the vibrancy, excitement, and entertainment that our community deserves—our current funding, resourcing and support simply does not allow us to do this anymore, but our desire and drive to bring these back is resolute.

While unlimited scope for optimism of the region’s potential remains, the future of Arts Mildura is precarious. We are working diligently, to ensure that our voices are heard beyond the confines of the Mallee scrub, as we petition the governments (of all levels), philanthropists, commercial entities, private donors, and audiences for the much needed (and deserving) support required for Arts Mildura to provide equitable access to the creative industries for our community.

Leaving nothing to chance we have devised a comprehensive strategic plan for the next four years, the most well considered and ambitious in the organisation’s history. 

 

Our humble requests for support are not without an acknowledgement or requirement to do more and show greater value and contributing proudly and equitably to our national identity and culture. The creative program between 2022-2025 will deliver exciting new programs including:

 

  • Arts Mildura Hub—a new creative hub for North-West Victoria. The year-round gallery, performance space and artist studio program will fill the gaps of a drastically increase the capacity of the Mallee to build the local creative industry to support locals while providing opportunities for out-of-region creatives to tour to Mildura (where opportunities currently do not exist). 
 
  • Mildura Sculpture Triennial (and Sculpturescape Trail)—the revamped and rejuvenated sculpture programs will bring international attention back to Mildura. Working collaboratively with existing Outback Victoria offerings such as the Silo Trails, the Mildura Sculpture presentations will be site responsive in a bid to promote the unique natural environment through unique and exceptional Victorian tourism experiences.  
 
  • SemiArid—a new annual multi-arts festival which celebrates the regions creative community, unique environment and local producers. The program will include large outdoor concerts for thousands, immersive art trails, street parties, projections, live music, commissioned works and residencies. Annually, SemiArid will provide over 200 employment opportunities for Victorian artists and creatives in addition to the hundreds of crew, support and hospitality employment opportunities. SemiArid will contributes at least $2million to the local economy through not only tourism, out-of-region visitation, but also the stimulation of local spend in local business.
 

This is our vision, this is our plan to deliver locally produced exceptional arts and events that stimulate our economy year-round (rather than just for one weekend). This is our commitment to the people of the Mallee to live in a thriving community that they deserve.

 However, none of this will be possible without the support, advocacy and backing of our local, state and federal governments, combined with that from philanthropists, commercial partners, donors, audiences and others.   

Arts Mildura as a not-for-profit will always place the quality of our services to the community ahead of commercial exploitation, however it is important that we can access and leverage the funding and work in partnership with other agencies, organisations, and stakeholders to develop sustainable projects which adhere to our vision, and which have the potential to augment our future to continue to do so.

Our plans and visions are in part our response to the deficits our community is experiencing, in part our response in how we can contribute to our community, but in its majority it the greatest opportunity to use the creative industries to bring equity, access, prosperity and economic stimulus to the Mallee.

Our plans and vision are a guiding light for the future—to not only to ensure the creative and organisational integrity and future of Arts Mildura over the next four years, but to also build a genuine legacy which utilises the arts and creative industries to secure a globally significant reputation of the Mallee as vibrant place to live, an attractive place to work and a truly exciting destination to visit.

There is no time like the present. Arts Mildura has survived its displacement and secured a new home. The idea of Arts Mildura has re-manifested. The operational capability of Arts Mildura is evident with the recruitment of team of skilled and passionate staff members, who have vested interest in Arts Mildura’s rise to success for all Victorians. 

Arts Mildura is ready to light pathways into the future for our regional creative practitioners and audiences. We are ready to uncover talent, to host first solo shows, we are ready to present life-affirming performances which propel audiences to learn, prosper and contribute. We are ready for watershed moments, tears, laughter, discussion, dancing, and learning. 

We are ready to pay it forward, to establish a secure and sustainable legacy for the Mallee and most importantly to welcome our community back, with open arms, to the thriving arts organisation they deserve that is by them and for them. 

 

A call to action:

Regional, rural, and remote communities are no less worthy of equitable access to the creative industries, or less worthy of the investment and support required to succeed.

Regional, rural, and remote communities continue to face greater inequalities across many sectors and services than their urban neighbours—while some inequity is unavoidable—this inequity in the arts, culture and creative industries does not need to exist—however, it still does.

Now is the time for leadership!

Now is the time to speak up.

Now is the time to advocate and propel governments, public and private entities to show true equity for our regional communities through action rather than policy platitudes.