Message from Director of Regional Arts Victoria

Six towns are about to embark on an ambitious adventure that puts artistic practice at the centre of their community life.

Small Town Transformations supports creative projects that will leave a lasting legacy. Projects that draw on contemporary Indigenous culture and proud Indigenous history. Projects that connect people, place and practice in meaningful ways. Projects that inspire new energies, new thinking and new collaborations.

With thanks to the Victorian Government, the funds that support Small Town Transformations projects are substantial. And yet transformation itself is priceless. It begins with a set of conversations that bring people together – often for the very first time. It’s sustained by passion, dedication and trust. And it’s committed to a lifetime and more of the kind of cultural change that constantly renews a community’s inspirations. Cultural change is generative, creative collaboration is empowering, and transformation is priceless.

Regional Arts Victoria presented the first Small Town Transformations a few years ago, and the people of Avoca, Dookie, Natimuk, Neerim South and Ouyen have gone on some massive journeys across that time. Today, when you visit the Avoca’s Garden of Fire & Water, or the dynamic Dookie Arts Collective, or Natimuk’s Verj with The Thing, or Neerim South’s majestic Bower, or Ouyen’s iconic Roxy, you’re in the presence of something far greater: the combined vision of countless individuals with confidence in one another.

Some years ago, a child in my extended family asked me what makes something a work of art. Without thinking I said that an artwork was something that asks questions, that asks new questions, that inspires us to look at the world differently, and that provokes us to ask those new questions of ourselves and of one another. As our six towns embark on their Small Town Transformations adventure, there’s questions they’ll be faced by that they will never have anticipated. Constructive questions. Personal questions. Difficult questions. Vexed questions. Questions that shift perceptions of what art is, of what’s possible when people come together, of what’s next for them as a community and as a whole town. What a thrilling prospect.

How can art transform your town?

Esther Anatolitis
Director, Regional Arts Victoria