Growing Western Sydney’s arts and culture

Western Sydney’s arts and culture line-up is not to be missed. It’s diverse and dynamic, and as a result it is consistently attracting new audiences and providing significant growth opportunities.

Western Sydney is a priority area under the Government’s Create in NSW, a 10 year-year policy framework that guides strategy, investment and partnerships to grow a thriving, globally connected arts and cultural sector.

The NSW Government’s strategic approach and investment to strengthen Parramatta, as Sydney’s second commercial hub, has been a catalyst for economic change across Western Sydney. In keeping with that vision, the relocation of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences to Parramatta provides a unique approach to developing a layered arts and cultural precinct for the region.

To further grow the capacity of local arts and culture in Western Sydney, the NSW Government has committed to significant investment in the region with an additional $7.5 million over four years.

This investment is underway with the NSW Government announcing on 15 October 2015 that 19 arts and cultural organisations across Western Sydney will receive program funding totalling $3.4 million.

This support is provided under Arts NSW’s Arts and Cultural Development Program2015 Annual and Multi-year Program funding categories – which aim to assist organisations to deliver a dynamic and diverse range of cultural experiences to communities across NSW.

Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said, “The Government is determined to grow the arts and cultural sector in Western Sydney, and this most recent funding round shows it is well on the way to doing exactly that.”

The funded organisations cover a broad spectrum of services and activities, from artform development, festivals, residencies, site-specific projects and international touring.

These organisations are contributing work that supports the ambitions of the NSW Government’s arts and cultural policy; building partnerships, supporting professional development, developing career pathways for young people and showcasing Aboriginal art and culture that is reflective of their local communities.

Blacktown Arts Centre, WestWords and Urban Theatre Projects are excellent examples of organisations that are delivering high quality arts and cultural outcomes.

Blacktown Arts Centre

In the thirteen years since Blacktown Arts Centre (BAC) opened, it has established a reputation for excellence and innovation in contemporary arts practice. It has grown from a small base to become a cultural organisation that well and truly punches above its weight.

For 2016, BAC has developed a program that strategically delivers for diverse communities and artists over the long term, comprising exhibitions, performances, site specific visual art and performance and interdisciplinary works.

For artists in particular, BAC will provide employment and development opportunities through commissions, self-directed creative development, projects with communities that explore new ways of engaging with audiences, and creating contemporary artistic outcomes.

The Arts NSW program funding will also assist BAC in expanding their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program, which will include new partnerships with Moogahlin Performing Arts and Carriageworks.

Partnerships are at the core of its programming, and  diverse in scale, and include  the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, Bangarra, Urban Theatre Projects, Performance Space, Boomalli and Australian Theatre for Young People.

BAC are also looking beyond the arts and cultural sector by developing strategic relationships with agencies such as Urban Growth NSW (Blacktown Native Institution Program), the Whitlam Institute and National Centre for Indigenous Excellence and local community organisations – ensuring that it is being responsive to local needs and change.

Arts NSW is providing $927,000 in multi-year program funding (over the next three years) to Blacktown Arts Centre.

WestWords Ltd

WestWords Ltd, incorporated in December 2014, is an organisation that has emerged from the Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Development Project (also known as WestWords since 2010), which was established by Arts NSW and the NSW Department of Education in 2007.

Building on the achievements over the last seven years, WestWords will deliver a program to engage young people from the range of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds that make up Western Sydney. WestWords will expand its partnerships with key service providers and community and school groups in the area. It will continue and extend its core activities of workshops, residencies and fellowships to engage young people in staged and sustained skills development, storytelling and creative writing. Their program also includes professional development for those who teach and practice literature development including writers, teachers and librarians.

Engaging in strategic partnerships, in and beyond the region, will further literature development for and by young people across the Greater Western Sydney.  For example, in collaboration with Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), WestWords will present a range of projects including the Mums’ Creative Hub project (to facilitate outcomes including early childhood resources for refugees and recently arrived migrant families), classroom outreach to disadvantaged high schools, Aboriginal Youth Digital Engagement program and Sinewave to capture aboriginal instruments, languages and stories.

Arts NSW is providing $165,000 in annual program funding to WestWords Ltd.

Urban Theatre Projects

Urban Theatre Projects (UTP) has consistently delivered a program of high quality work that has put cultural diversity and under-represented voices centre stage for more than 30 years. As a company, it is known for putting itself out there – in the real world – allowing landscape and location to give context to the stories it tells. This is core to its artistic process and continues to be a driving force in determining the vision and direction of the company.

Over the next three years, UTP will consolidate its position as a leading voice in Western Sydney, contributing to the cultural ecology and vibrancy of NSW by presenting ambitious projects that reflect perspectives of the region.

It is work with over 200 NSW-based artists to create activities in NSW, as well as nationally internationally.

UTP pioneers new models of contemporary practice, creating opportunities for professional artists and community participants to collaborate in the creation of new Australian work.

It actively seeks new audiences through collaborations and partnerships, whether that is with a major performing arts company, a not-for-profit housing provider or local residents

Arts NSW is providing $945,000 in multi-year program funding (over the next three years) to Urban Theatre Projects.

The NSW Government’s bold vision for our arts and cultural community – built on the mutually reinforcing ambitions of excellence, access and strength – is reflected in the work of these organisations.

Blacktown Arts Centre, WestWords and Urban Theatre Projects offer a snapshot of the diverse and innovative organisations that Arts NSW supports through the Arts and Cultural Development Program.  For a full list of Western Sydney funded programs and projects please click here.

The assessment of applications to the Arts and Cultural Development Program has been completed.  Progressive announcements of successful applications are now being made and the full release is expected before the end of October. Arts NSW will contact all organisations once announcements are made.

If you wish to discuss your application with Arts NSW staff, please contact Arts Development and Investment on or Freecall 1800 358 594 (within NSW).

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Published: 19 October 2015