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Regional developments: Lismore the new Newtown; cultural infrastructure supported? LIVE AND LOCAL kicks off

Lismore’s future: The Newtown of the Northern Rivers

According to NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes, “Lismore is home to the highest number of artists and creatives in regional NSW and by encouraging investment in the arts we will see it transform into the Newtown of the Northern Rivers”

He is echoed by Lismore’s new Regional City Action Plan, which runs to 2036. So it has 15 years for the transformation – to a place that Newtown would like to copy.

[EDITOR’S NOTE. This article was first published by the Music Trust in October 2021. In February-March 2022 Lismore was overwhelmed by floods. The downtown, which is on the banks of a river, is so deeply inundated that there is discussion of moving it entirely to a new site. This is also the case for hundreds of houses. Hopefully, the plan described below will be revived but on the face of it, in the circumstances early action would be remarkable.]

Lismore is HQ for Southern Cross University (whose inaugural Vice-Chancellor was composer Barry Conyngham) and is not too far inland from Byron Bay nor very distant from Mullumbimby and Nimbin. Earlier in his career, Lyndon Terracini, for some time now the Artistic Director of Opera Australia, set up NORPA – the trail-blazing Northern Rivers Performing Arts, producer of theatre and arts events – in Lismore.

The action plan imagines Newtown as buoyant and arty. So in Lismore, expect live music, outdoor dining and pop-up stalls, imagine quirky laneways, alleyways and arcades says the plan. (The liveliness of the Melbourne arcades was intentional, not an accident, and there could be a plan there to follow.)

Lismore has the youngest population in the region. “This youthfulness, combined with improvements in digital connectivity, can build a network of skilled and inspiring artists, designers and retailers,” says the plan.

Cultural infrastructure included for the first time in new Australian Infrastructure Plan

Independent arts and culture think tank A New Approach (ANA) today welcomed the release of Infrastructure Australia’s 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan with its particular focus on the inclusion of cultural infrastructure in the Plan, a first in Australia’s history.

The Australian Government’s 2021 Infrastructure Plan follows the 2016 Plan and is intended to support our national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and other events that have impacted Australia in recent years such as the bushfires, floods and drought.

ANA CEO Kate Fielding said “The inclusion of cultural infrastructure in the 2021 Plan is recognition of the significant value Australians place on access to arts and cultural experiences and the need to ensure all Australians can benefit from them, no matter where they live.

“We know from our research with both middle Australians and young middle Australians that they believe arts and cultural experiences build communities and can help both individuals and communities recover from trauma like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ms Fielding.

“Well considered and planned cultural infrastructure that is sustainable and adaptive improves access to these experiences and supports increased cohesion in our communities. It also supports the growth and employment opportunities in our creative industries at all levels. Properly resourcing both the construction and the operating phases of cultural infrastructure is crucial to securing the best return on investment now and into the future.”

“As the Plan highlights, cultural infrastructure in all of its many forms plays an important role in community connectedness, social cohesion and sense of place. It is a critical part of our infrastructure and our economy and it is wonderful to see this recognised in the 2021 Plan.”

ANA welcomed the opportunity to be a participant in the development of the cultural infrastructure elements of the Plan and looks forward to further opportunities to provide independent advice to support the delivery of resilient cultural infrastructure for Australia.

[The current Federal government has given some priority to regional development so we might expect that the regions can find ways of benefitting from the infrastructure plan which, it might be noted, is owned by the government and not an arts sector think tank. That doesn’t guarantee funding but probably makes it more likely.]

Read the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan here

‘Live and Local’ is now also REAL

Loudmouth reported in its September edition the inception of the Live and Local program as a collaboration between five local government regions in SE Queensland. We have received this announcement from the Gympie member and similar announcements from the others. It’s all looking pretty good.

I am very happy to share the news of our Gympie Live & Local program. The series of Micro-Festivals will hit the coast as of 22nd October, having their first performances in Rainbow Beach.

Presented by Creative Arts Alliance with strategic industry partners and supported locally by the Gympie Council, this local series welcomes known artists such as Kev Starkey, Mason Hope & Joe Man Murphy, as well as emerging singer-songwriter Cora. The series will encompass five dates and eight locations across the Gympie region.

There is also an open invitation for two free, high quality professional development sessions for artists and businesses to connect and learn more about building a sustainable, local, live music industry.

These sessions are being held Monday 8  & Tuesday 9 November, 6:30pm – 8:30pm at The Pavilion Conference Centre Gympie Showgrounds with Q Music’s Dom Miller presenting; all welcome, free of charge, no booking required.

With the series about to hit the town we are opening opportunities for interviews with a select few artists.

We encourage you to share with your networks as this is a first of its kind event and we would love to see great support from our local community.

Gympie Live & Local program information, artist images can be accessed this link.


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