Lifestyle Western Sydney artists resilient despite lack of funding

Western Sydney artists resilient despite lack of funding

A new study tracking cultural activity across Greater Western Sydney has found artists in the region are resilient and optimistic about their professions, despite a relative lack of funding and resources.

The research, led by Professors Deborah Stevenson and David Rowe from the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) at Western Sydney University, surveyed over 200 artists and cultural practitioners.

“Previous research has found Western Sydney represents one in ten Australians, yet attracts only one per cent of Commonwealth arts program funding, and 5.5 per cent of New South Wales’ cultural arts, heritage and events funding,” said Professor Stevenson.

The study found most artists and cultural practitioners identify strongly with the region.

A sense of community and of being outside ‘mainstream’ culture offers relative artistic freedom to many, and supports both aesthetic risk-taking and diverse cultural expression.

This widespread positive sense of belonging and professional pride endured despite a degree of financial insecurity, with most respondents forced to seek additional employment to supplement their limited artistic and cultural income.

“This research indicates that cultural workers in western Sydney are a highly adaptable group of people who are able to combine their commitment to creative practice with a range of alternative employment activities and economic resources,” said Professor Rowe.

“The survey also maps where survey respondents live and work. It reveals that there is a flow and exchange of arts and cultural activity across metropolitan Sydney.”

“These spatial and cultural relationships should be encouraged in the interests of information sharing and mutual support,” he said.

To help overcome a lack of funding, the study recommends a greater investment in permanent arts and cultural working spaces to help nurture and value creative practice in the region, rather than programs to fund individual artists.

“The participants in our research were well aware that they had chosen a relatively precarious lifestyle in order to pursue their creative interests,” said Professor Stevenson.

“This research highlights the immediate need for accessible and flexible spaces for cultural practice.”

Read more about the researchers and their study here. Story credit: University of Western Sydney newsroom.

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