Western Eyre Peninsula will be without a dedicated arts and cultural development facilitator following Country Arts SA’s decision to forge a Creative Communities Partnership Position with the Port Augusta City Council.
Jayne Holland had worked in the role in conjunction with Country Arts SA and the District Council of Streaky Bay, however the proposed partnership between Streaky Bay and the District Council of Elliston with Country Arts was not approved, leaving the region without an arts officer on the ground for the foreseeable future.
Country Arts SA chief executive officer Steve Saffell said choosing an application out of the seven received was a difficult process for the assessment panel.
He said Ms Holland had done a fantastic job over the years, but now the aim was to ensure the western half of Eyre Peninsula would not become isolated.
“The West Coast is an important part of regional South Australia, it is a massive area with many isolated communities and we will work with councils over the coming months to make sure things still happen in the region,” he said.
“Our work is more than partnerships on the ground, it is road shows, presentations, access to grant funding, advice and while there won’t be local expertise, it will be available on the phone – this is not the preferred way, but it is there.”
Elliston council chief executive officer Phil Cameron said they were disappointed to have lost the West Coast position.
He said the model the councils had presented would have included all parts of Eyre Peninsula at some stage in the upcoming financial year.
“It’s a shame because it means people on the West Coast can’t take advantage of programs and what is put together to offer them,” he said.
“With Jayne no longer in the role it makes it more difficult to offer programs and services and to present community events, and there are a lot of artists in the region – Elliston is a good example.
“Anybody in remote communities is going against the wind so I think it will have a detrimental effect, and Country Arts funding was to account for a fair chunk of what we were looking at.”
He said there would be discussions with councillors and Streaky Bay to see what they wanted to do moving forward.
Streaky Bay chief executive officer Joy Hentschke said the decision meant that after 14 years the western region had “lost a connection with Country Arts SA”.
“We hope local arts groups are strong enough to liaise directly with Country Arts,” she said.
Ms Hentschke said it was too early to determine the next step, but she said it would be good to have an arts officer on the ground in the region in the future.
The decision leaves the closest partnership and arts officer at Whyalla.
Mr Saffell admitted this was a blow for the region and said Country Arts needed to “find creative ways” to ensure West Coast communities were aware of their services.
He said Whyalla would now be the go-to for local artists, or people could call the Port Adelaide office.
“It’s a strong arts community on the West Coast, but they are largely self-sufficient and do more than what we are involved in,” Mr Saffell said.
“Access will be more difficult and we need to work to bridge that gap – we are determined to assist in that regard and need to consult with councils and RDA (Regional Development Australia) too.
“It won’t be the same, but we’ll work hard to help communities.”
Ms Hentschke said Ms Holland, who will maintain her role with the council, deserved thanks for her work in helping to facilitate local arts over the years.
“The council would like to say thanks for all her hard work over the years,” she said.
“She has put in a lot of hard work and has done plenty of extra work with events, presentations and setting up – there was a lot of selfless devotion.”
The new Port Augusta partnership will see a new full-time Aboriginal arts and cultural facilitator role created which will focus on developing the current gallery and adjacent facilities at the Port Augusta Cultural Centre into a Regional Aboriginal Cultural Hub and building the capacity of Aboriginal communities to engage culturally and develop their arts practice.
Mr Saffell said it would initially be Port Augusta-focused, but could expand to include artistic works from towns with a strong Aboriginal community such as Ceduna.