10 May 2023

Art services network out to grow capacity in Cape York

| Sarah Martin
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Aurukun Akay Koo’oila Women’s Centre manager Elizabeth Hunter with Waratah Nicholls.

DRIVING social change through art and culture is the goal of Regional Arts Services Network Tropical North, whose Cape-based team are offering support to help local artists reach their goals.

RASNTN regional officer Waratah Nicholls, based with Cook Shire in Cooktown, spent a fortnight travelling across the Cape last month.

Along with regional manager Tony Castles, they visited art centres, local councils, service providers and individual artists.

“We travelled to Weipa, Mapoon, Napranum, Lockhart River, Portland Roads and Aurukun to engage with those communities and artists and get an understanding of what their arts and cultural priorities are and what gaps and needs exist,” Ms Nicholls said.

“We want to know what their dreams are, and how we can assist them to reach those goals.

“We can help in many ways including brokering partnerships, mentoring people through project development, grant writing and developing business skills.”

RASNTN has a regional arts officer based on Thursday Island and, between the two officers, they cover the entire region.

Ms Nicholls said RASNTN’s priority was to drive community change through arts-led initiatives and promote sustainable growth for regional arts and artists.

“One of the things the RASNTN team are focusing on is performing artists,” she said.

“There has been a big focus on investment into visual arts, and lots of communities have really strong arts centres and are producing incredible work.

“But we also have some incredible performing artists here that aren’t getting the same amount of support.”

Ms Nicholls said an exciting development for Cape performers was the completion of a new cultural centre at Mapoon, complete with a small recording studio, scheduled to be officially opened next year.

Lockhart River had also begun the development of a new cultural precinct with an outdoor amphitheatre and campground.

“We are also scoping out ideas for a Cape York sculpture trail involving designing and creating sculptures in communities,” she said.

“It really is an exciting time for arts and artists across the Cape.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work with artists, stakeholders and communities to support them to reach their goals.”

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