When you learn about past civilisations you look to their art and culture – objects that speak to the people and values of the time. So I have to ask: why aren’t we better documenting art and culture from Australia’s growth regions, namely Western Sydney?*
I am a writer from south west Sydney and I am frustrated; frustrated by the lack of visibility and awareness for the diverse creative communities of Western Sydney. There is incredible work being made by international standards and no one is talking about it.
Art is the business of ideas and storytelling. It connects us to our shared humanity, builds stronger communities and is fundamental to well being.
So what are we going to do about it?
I co-founded State of the Arts Media – the only digital platform dedicated to raising awareness for art and culture from across Western Sydney and Regional NSW. We publish content to give visibility to diverse arts and cultural communities. Our content is produced by local writers to balance the conversation and reclaim control of how we are represented.
Together, we are writing ourselves into the history of of Australian art.
This is important because Western Sydney (and regional NSW) has historically been invisible and therefore underfunded. Last night I googled ‘Western Sydney Arts and Culture’. Do you know what I found? Government reports, media coverage of these reports and Western Sydney University. It wasn’t until page three, search term number 34 that I found an arts event. We need to put Western Sydney arts and culture on the map. These are Australian stories with global relevance.
In 2015, Deloitte released a report that revealed that despite being home to 10% of Australia’s population, Western Sydney still only received 1% of Federal Arts funding and 5.5% of State Arts funding budgets. Since then we have seen incremental changes in funding priorities with CreateNSW, but the public record hasn’t changed. The media – both mainstream and specialty arts publications – are not sufficiently documenting these practices.
The public record is crucial for awareness and generating wider private support for the arts in greater suburban and regional areas.
Western Sydney (and Regional NSW) need independent media. We don’t want you to miss out on these amazing stories and experiences. My peers often ask me how I find out about ‘these cool events happening across Western Sydney.’ Well, now everyone can know. State of the Arts Media was developed out of necessity.
Parramatta is an evolving cultural hub, which is why we want to launch of series of commissioned articles by local writers. We know what politicians and eastern Sydney-siders think about the move of the Powerhouse Museum, but what do the locals think? Where are their voices in the public record?
This morning I got a message from a university student named Aneshka. She was excited to have found us because she could use our content as a reference in her honors thesis. State of the Arts Media is putting Western Sydney art and culture on the map.
At State of the Arts Media we believe that culture is everywhere. It is not just in the museums and galleries, but what each of us does when we walk down the street. Australia is starved for ideas, innovation and storytelling. I believe it exists – it exists in Western Sydney. But no one one is talking about it, especially not the public record.
So how can you help?
At State of the Ats Media we believe that innovation doesn’t happen in isolation. Your support for our crowdfunding campaign can help us bring awareness to local perspectives of the arts and cultural life in Parramatta.
You can help put Western Sydney arts and culture on the map. You can help us build the archive.
Aside from contributing to our fundraising campaign, please share this article and our campaign with your network. Let them know why you support us #cultureiseverywhere.
*Natalie acknowledges that for the purposes of this pitch she had to slip into generalisations about Western Sydney.
** This pitch was originally delivered by Natalie as a part of Pitch for Good Parramatta, a live fundraising event to launch our crowdfunding campaign. We received $1300 of support from the audience. Help us meet the rest of our all or nothing goal.