Three female QUT researchers set out to embark on a journey to improve the overall well-being of regional communities and positively impact their health, education and employment through the use of creative arts projects. Associate Professor Sandra Gattenhof, Dr Donna Hancox and Professor Helen Klaeb have planned a three-year project where they will work with communities in Central Western Queensland and Tasmania’s Burnie region to highlight the social impact of the creative arts for regional and remote communities.

Their project The Role of the Creative Arts in Regional Australia: A Social Impact Model, has received $180,000 government funding in an Australian Research Council Linkage Project which the researchers will use to closely examine the social impacts that past art projects have had on these regional and remote communities. This will give them an understanding of how they should design and develop art projects that make an impact and create a framework to evaluate impact and success factors. These frameworks will then be used by the communities in order to source arts funding for specific projects they believe will offer the most beneficial outcomes.

“It’s already understood in an anecdotal way that involvement in the arts makes communities feel good – and that this has trickle down effects on many social issues,” Dr Hancox said. “What we want to do is develop methods to demonstrate these benefits so that communities can push for funding for targeted projects that build capacity and have lasting impact.” explained Dr Hancox. “Regional communities that have been identified as facing significant challenges already know that solutions exist within their communities. We want to illuminate how arts engagement can have individual and community impact for areas such as health, education and employment.”

The ARC Linkage grant will allow the QUT researchers to work with partner organisations including Regional Arts Australia, Red Ridge (Interior Queensland), the Australian Department of Communications and the Arts, Burnie City Council, Regional Australia Institute, Australian Performing Arts Centres Association, and the Central Western Queensland Remote Area Planning and Development Board.

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