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Gabriel Comerford and Amelia Stokes of Makeshift Theatre, performing in 'Absence of Light' 2019. Photo by Jacob Collins - LUSY Productions.

Insights into the Regional Arts Fund 2019-20

16/12/2020

Manager of the Regional Arts Fund, Mary Jane Warfield takes the RAF out of the filing cabinet with some fascinating data about cash, audience, location and trends.

The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund (RAF) consistently provides resources towards sustainable cultural development projects and practice across regional Australia.

In the 2019-20 period the competitive grants awarded by the RAF totalled 375 projects and $2,297,444.19 in funding.

  • 118 Project Grants, valued at $1,814,109.56

and

  • 257 Quick Response Grants, valued at $483,334.63

All RAF projects must benefit regional people and places and must align strongly with the objectives.

Regional Arts Fund Objectives

  • To encourage and support sustainable economic, social and cultural development in regional communities;
  • To develop partnerships and networks which leverage support for projects and encourage ongoing collaboration;
  • To develop audiences and broaden community engagement with the arts; and
  • To increase employment, professional development opportunities and profile of regional and remote artists.

Overall, the RAF data trends are reasonably stable and consistent. However, in the fourth year of the five-year deed, some trends have emerged which reflect trends in arts practice and consumption across regional Australia. Particularly, a rise in the number of projects in very remote areas and an increase in artists and arts workers as primary beneficiary of the funding.

Regional Arts Australia continues to collaborate with a national network of organisations (Regional Program Administrators) who administer the fund in each State and Territory.

Regional and remote arts practice is at the core of the RAF and we see a continued trend to MMM2 and MMM5 locations being the most highly supported, with a jump this year in MMM7 (very remote), in locations such as Ceduna (SA), Blackall (Qld), Warakurna (WA) and Ramingining (NT) – demonstrating that contemporary arts practice is increasingly active in remote areas.

A majority of projects take place in the same location as the applicant (demonstrating strong place-based practice), while simultaneously we continue to see strong number of professional development projects which take place in MMM1 (metropolitan) locations and overseas locations (demonstrating that regional artists and arts workers are nationally and globally connected). Unfortunately the overseas project numbers dipped this year due to the impacts of COVID-19, however there were still 17 projects that supported regional Australian artists and arts workers to travel to work, learn and exchange overseas.

There was a significant jump in the number of ‘digital media’ projects this year, which can be attributed to regional artists adapting their work in the wake of the pandemic and creating new ways to engage audiences and communities. This has also affected participant numbers, which are estimated at almost 29,000 participants, a significant increase. Audience numbers are estimated to be over 4 million for the 2019-2020 year. These large increases are due to the accessibility of digital content, which provides regional and remote arts practice to be broadcast globally. It has also allowed for regional artists to engage with a huge amount of content online that would not otherwise have been available.

Leveraged income continues to be a strong factor in the development and delivery of RAF projects, with a leveraged income (income from sources other than RAF and applicants themselves) of over $4.8 million and applicant contributions of over $3.3 million. Notably, the applicant contribution to leveraged income was more than the total amount of funding provided.

Estimated numbers of people involved in RAF projects were:

  • 4,039,879 audience
  • 28,892 participants
  • 3,081 employment opportunities – 1.5 times last year’s figure!

Demand for the fund continues to be high, with a national success rate of 31%. Overall, the fund remains a competitive, but reliable source of funding for high quality, community engaged outputs across communities in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Check out our interactive data mapping for 2019-2020!