Arts and Edges: Australian creativity at the centre and periphery

Arts and Edges banner - from the Regional Arts Summit @raasummit on Twitter
Arts and Edges – from the Regional Arts Summit @raasummit on Twitter

I was sad not to be able to attend the Regional Arts Summit in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia this year – despite best efforts, we couldn’t square it with all the projects currently on the go at Parkes Library.

Earlier this year, I was privileged to keynote at VALA, the biennial culture, libraries, and tech conference which took place in Melbourne. I spoke about opportunity and equity in Australian libraries, trading my Hugo Boss for a miner’s uniform on stage to make a point about arts access outside Australia’s big cities.

Working in Parkes has opened my eyes to the challenges that rural, regional, and marginal communities in Australia still face in gaining access to arts and culture – both as audiences, and as creators in their own right.

In Parkes, we’ve designed events like the Central West Comics Fest to reach out beyond an arts-event circuit that focusses on state capitals, and give regional creators, fans, and audiences their due.

Some of the Twitter coverage from Kalgoorlie was relevant to this work in Australian regional libraries, especially contributions from Curtin University librarian Teresa Bennett – @kalgrl on Twitter.

You can find out more by checking out the #RAASummit hashtag on Twitter, listening to summit coverage on ABC Radio National, and visiting the Regional Arts Summit site.

You can read text based on my VALA keynote here and watch a video of the presentation by entering your email at the VALA website.

The Regional Arts Summit in 2016 will take place in Dubbo, just down the road from my friends at Parkes Library. It’s going to be a great time for Central West New South Wales. I look forward to seeing an Australia where the culture scene goes further in embracing the sharp edges and strange delights of life at the margins.

Parkes Fun Palaces: Tabletop Supervillains

It’s the big day! Three hours from now, Australia’s first Fun Palace opens in Parkes Shire Library, New South Wales.

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Games designed and built by local kids and teens will be on display for the community to have a go over the holiday weekend. There’s also a chance to try Parkes Library classics like Paint Like Michelangelo, a dinosaur dig, and a few more surprises besides.

Events have a supervillainous theme this year because many of our activities were inspired by British author Louie Stowell’s book The School For Superheroes, so we’ll also be rolling out a superhero-themed tabletop roleplaying game. We worked with local teens to devise, design, and test this game, which is quick to learn, easy to play, and inspired by the work of sci-fi writer, activist, and journalist Cory Doctorow.

The game will be available for the whole community to play in or out of the library after the Fun Palace closes, and we’ll aim to share both the game and our design process online as soon as possible. In the meantime watch @parkeslibrary and @drmattfinch on Twitter for the latest updates over the long weekend!

In the meantime, let me leave you with a personal favourite from our pre-launch photo gallery.

The Parkes Shire Library is sponsored by a number of organisations including Charles Sturt University…which led to this glorious caption card on one exhibit of the kids’ games.

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