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‘Phenomenal growth’: how the creative arts are flourishing

The Sunshine Coast has more artists than ever before with many people working full time in the arts, turning their passion and skill into profitable, creative careers. Latest research shows the region’s creative arts sector, which comprises everyone from painters to podcasters, is evolving and diversifying with great momentum.

 
‘Phenomenal growth’: how the creative arts are flourishing
Credit: Cooper Brady

The Sunshine Coast has more artists than ever before with many people working full time in the arts, turning their passion and skill into profitable, creative careers.

Latest research shows the region’s creative arts sector, which comprises everyone from painters to podcasters, is evolving and diversifying with great momentum.

Results revealed that 9 in 10 locals agree that arts and culture make the Sunshine Coast a better place to live, while 96% have attended an arts event, and 1 in 2 participated.

The success story was heard at the latest meeting of Sunshine Coast Council.

Councillors unanimously voted to adopt the Sunshine Coast Creative Arts Plan 2023–2038, the second iteration of its 20-year plan, to shape and support the sector over the next 15 years.

Councillors were told that this would build on the previous plan, which was a first for the region when adopted in 2018.

Sunshine Coast Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the arts plan had been a genuinely positive influence.

“Council developed its first arts plan in 2018 to set the foundations for the creative arts to further flourish in the region – and flourish they did,” Cr Baberowski said.

“We’ve seen exceptional growth and real development in the sector over the past five years.’’

A recent sector survey very encouragingly found that 42% of respondents were working full-time in the arts, which has increased from 31% in 2017. It also revealed that artists able to generate income from their practice has increased from 55% to 61%.

In the years following the first Arts Plan, Sunshine Coast Council’s Creative Arts and Events team led a series of focused development programs, designed to build the capacity of local artists and strengthen the region’s creative sector.

Ruby Donohoe, an interdisciplinary performance-maker whose exhibition ‘This is Incomplete without you’ was recently on show at Caloundra Regional Gallery, said the programs provided opportunities for artistic growth and challenge.

“These programs provide structured scaffolding for the development of new skills with the freedom for self-driven direction,” Ms Donohoe said.

“They are crucial for increased visibility within both industry and community. They also offer immeasurable tangential opportunities through connection – professional networks, audience development, partnership pathways and artistic collaborations.

“The fruits of these programs will ripple through for many years to come.”

Cr Baberowski said two critical objects has been to deliver more professional development and more spaces. As a result, the Coast now had more arts venues and facilities, more creative programming, and additional training opportunities for artists.

“These results are really a great testament to building a culture of sector collaboration and of Council’s close relationship with its strategic advisors – the Sunshine Coast Arts Advisory Board.” Cr Baberowski said.

The teams behind the delivery of the Sunshine Coast Creative Arts Plan are ever mindful of the dynamics of the sector and will be formally reviewed again within the next five years by 2028 – four years prior to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the planning and delivery of the 2032 Cultural Olympiad.