Valuing arts and culture in regional Australia 

11 October 2023

ANA CEO Kate Fielding delivered the closing address at the National Gallery of Australia’s Regional Art Forum, held over two days in October. Kate’s address drew on ANA research to highlight the high rates of cultural participation in Australia, including in regional areas; the transformative impacts of arts and culture; and the resounding view from middle Australia that arts and culture improves lives and is essential to being human.

Kate acknowledged the challenges unique to artists and arts workers in regional and remote areas, such as logistics and internet connectivity, while highlighting how arts and culture can contribute towards addressing some of the issues facing regional Australia, including the impacts of climate change and natural disasters, shifting populations, health inequality and labour shortages.

While government investment is critical to ensuring more equitable access to arts and cultural experiences, Kate noted that the majority of income into cultural and creative industries in Australia comes from sales and services – potentially giving the regions a unique advantage and opportunity: “You live in the communities you serve. You are woven into the fabric of the day to day life of these places; you run into people at the supermarket and your kids play netball with their kids. You know your audience.” 

Kate concluded by sharing her belief that Australia can become a cultural powerhouse, but this ambition can only be achieved if we understand, value and prioritise arts, culture and creativity in regional areas. “The voices of middle Australia should give us the confidence to act boldly and urgently, to work across regional boundaries and to collaborate with industry, philanthropy and government to unlock the opportunities of regional Australia and support the development of a rich cultural life for all Australians.”


Photograph and video courtesy National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra.

New Approach acknowledges that it meets, works and travels on the lands of First Nations peoples. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and to all First Nations peoples.