Markets hit the mark, say locals
  • Friday 27 August 2010

Markets are a big drawcard with locals, ranking as the number one cultural activity enjoyed by Sunshine Coast residents, a new council survey reveals.

When they are not attending markets, locals are busy dabbling in photography, writing and drawing – the three most popular art forms enjoyed by Coast residents.

These are some of the fascinating findings to emerge from the latest round of community engagement undertaken by council for the 2010–2015 Creative Communities plan.

Nearly 800 people provided written submissions or responded to surveys with a series of questions on which cultural activities were most valued on the Sunshine Coast.

Markets emerged as the most frequently attended cultural activity with 94.7% of community survey respondents attending either often (52.1%) or occasionally (38%). Beaches and restaurants/cafes ranked a close second to markets with 91.7% of respondents regularly visiting the beach or eating out.

Locals also emerged as an artistic and musical mob, with the most popular recreational art forms identified as:

  • Photography (214 respondents)
  • Writing (156)
  • Drawing (148)
  • Playing a musical instrument (144) and
  • Dancing (135).

The community engagement process also included focus group meetings that attracted 167 people and interviews with Indigenous residents.

As with previous community feedback gathered by council, protecting and appreciating the Sunshine Coast environment emerged as one of the most widely held community values among Sunshine Coast residents, with 97.5% of community survey respondents nominating this as an important issue.

This concern for the environment was mirrored in residents’ response to the question on community celebrations, with the majority of survey respondents ranking World Environment Day above Christmas, Easter and New Year.

Councillor Jenny McKay, whose portfolio responsibility within council includes Arts and Culture, said this finding indicated how strongly locals value the natural beauty of our region.

"The response to our two month community engagement was very encouraging,” Councillor McKay said. “With this level of community input, we are confident that the resulting plan will truly reflect the cultural needs and values of Sunshine Coast residents."

Other widely-held community values to emerge from the consultation included:

  • Strong sense of community, friendliness, appreciation of our laid back lifestyle and willingness to volunteer for community benefit
  • Appreciation of the individual character and culture of local communities
  • Liking for cultural events in outdoor spaces, a wide range of dining options and fresh produce, and,
  • Acknowledgement of, and respect for, local Indigenous cultural heritage

Libraries emerged as the most highly valued and well used cultural service provided by council.

Focus group participants said some of the things that were working well on the Coast included the growth of food and wine festivals and markets in our region, the increasingly well developed creative career pathways from local secondary schools through to Sunshine Coast TAFE and the University of Sunshine Coast and the cultural connections between the education sector and local museums and regional galleries.

They also commented on the concentration of musical talent in the region, growth of community choirs and school music programs and the popularity of regular live music events such as Maleny’s Upfront Club, Joe’s Waterhole in Eumundi and Peregian Originals.

One of the major gaps uncovered by the community engagement was the need for more current and comprehensive information on Sunshine Coast cultural activities and resources. To address this need, council has recently launched a new monthly e-newsletter, Creative Communities e-news, to keep residents up to date on all the latest arts and culture news and opportunities in our region.

Residents interested in subscribing to Creative Communities e-news can do so by visiting the Electronic Newsletters page of the About Council/Corporate Documents section of council's website.

The first draft of the 2010-2015 Creative Communities Sunshine Coast plan will go to council for endorsement within the next two months.