Lindy Hume’s recent article “Why artists live in regional Australia” outlines some exceptional reasons for urban creatives to consider regional relocation. This article was widely shared with positive reception in my particular circle, which raised some interesting questions for me: a native regional creative. This article was presented to urban audiences as a series of reasons why creatives have shed the shackles of city life, for the affordable, enriching serenity of regional Australia.
I must state here for clarity, that I agree with most of the arguments outlined by Lindy Hume in this article, thinking space, community, nature and affordability are exceptional positives of creative life within regional Australia.
But in the words of the Great Mr. Trumble, can’t we start to expect a better standard of arts journalism here? The questions I found myself asking as I saw people agreeing with the affordability and tranquility of regional living centred on this: why must regional arts communities continually prove and outline to their urban counterparts that there is merit to our regional living?
With the shifts in demographics in Australia, as regional and suburban centres grow, the benefits of regional living are becoming increasingly clear with the discourse of Australian housing prices and avocados in recent times leading the charge. With the outcomes from conferences like ARTSLAND 2016, the solidarity and growth of arts programs across regional NSW, the excellence of art ecologies in regional Australia are speaking for themselves, they need not be made palatable for more urban constitutions.
One of the more contentious aspects of this article, which I didn’t see addressed widely, was the notion that regional Australia can provide “a temporary oasis for reflection, research and creative development” in the form of artistic residencies. Again, from the outset I am going to state for clarity that I believe in the significance of personal and industry wide benefits which residencies provide in the form of cross pollination of ideas, experiences and collaborations.
What should be discussed, if we demand more rigorous arts publishing (which many arts writers, Lindy Hume included, are more than able to provide) is this: regional Australia does not exist to offer a respite for inspiration and renewal to urban creatives.
In these communities which are drastically underfunded (that topic is a whole other article) creative ecologies are and always have thrived.
Maybe the answer lies not in trying to make regional Australia appealing to urbanites, but rather to promote and encourage the already innovative, exciting and rich artistic communities that exist in regional Australia.