Arts say one in, all in

Ian Poole and Emma Jones, representing GO TAFE, and Paul Squires believe the North East needs a joint organisation to lobby for the North East arts community. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

Ian Poole and Emma Jones, representing GO TAFE, and Paul Squires believe the North East needs a joint organisation to lobby for the North East arts community. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

THE North East’s arts and cultural groups could unite as an Indi-wide collective to lobby for funding.

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz chair Paul Squires yesterday said such an organisation could be key to promoting the region’s many cultural events and their economic benefits.

He made his comments after a meeting in Wangaratta with representatives of other organisations, including the Wangaratta performing arts centre and art gallery, Benalla performing arts centre and art gallery, GO TAFE and Tourism Victoria.

Indi MP Cathy McGowan also attended.

Mr Squires said this was just the start of the conversation to keep arts and culture high on the agenda of politicians and the public.

None of Wodonga’s arts groups attended, but they could take part in future, particularly if an arts collective evolves.

Mr Squire said many other sectors — like agriculture, tourism or the service industry — had overarching bodies that helped give them a stronger voice.

But that was lacking in the North East for arts, and it was to its detriment.

“There needs to be a voice, a strong advocacy role in Indi around arts and culture,” he said.

“Each group needs to maintain their individuality but we need the capability to also have a single voice.”

He pointed to Murray Arts as an example of what could be done.

He said those involved were looking at structures that could work for this region.

An umbrella group could provide strength at a time when competition for grants was tough and could better cross-promote events and tourism.

“We recognise it’s important to share our visitors between regional cities and towns and demonstrate the richness on offer,” Mr Squires said.

He said with more than 250 events in Indi and many art galleries and museums, the sector was a vital component of the region’s economy but that fact was sometimes ignored or forgotten.

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