Arts Networking and Community Strengthening

Like many Arts people, I belong to more than one group. Until yesterday, when I became the first member of CART, I belonged to seven.

Why so many? Because I work in a broad range of Arts; each enriches in a different way, and I have much to offer – and to learn.

Another aspect of belonging to diverse groups is the opportunity to cross link skills and work collaboratively.

There are lots more than seven groups in our shire and probably many more lone artisans creating in their homes or in the field. How can we keep in touch with each other?

In the 1990s I was a member of Community Arts Pakenham (CAP). Before local government boarders were moved, the name also denoted our regional shire, so the group covered a large area.

One of our aims was to bring more Arts events to our community, which we did in fine style for several years.

Another was to set up a registry of all the artists and Arts groups in the shire, to support one another and to provide a single point through which visitors and new residents could connect with local Arts opportunities.

With our meetings focussed on the business of organising events and bringing Arts into the shire, our band of volunteers was too small to also do the necessary legwork to establish a registry.

Our numbers dwindled for a variety of reasons and, not having a registry from which to find other interested people who might join us on CAP, the group eventually went into retirement.

The desire for a registry came up again in 2007 when the shire’s first Arts Policy was written in consultation with the community. People want to be connected through the Arts, but there was no group to organise it – until now.


I was keen to attend as I wanted to learn more about the group. They have already been very active throughout the community, talking to many groups and trying to make contact with key people with other arts networks.


I was not disappointed (though I did leave with a homework assignment – to tell others in my network about CART; especially people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities in the shire).

There is a vibrancy about this group and a keen desire to achieve. The same was true about Community Arts Pakenham. The difference this time is
*a fabulous turnout for our inaugural gathering,
*already more arts people are aware of this group than its predecessor,
*stronger interest from council, with elected councillors in attendance yesterday speaking supportively and giving a local government perspective to better equip us for future requests for assistance,
*a much larger population with greater need but also from which to draw participants, networkers and volunteers,
*we live in a time when communication is much easier and faster. In the nineties we did a lot of photocopying and hard copy mail outs.
*we have a 5 days per week cultural officer on the permanent staff of our council
*and an Arts emailing list that has helped with promoting events and can be used to help link more people interested in the Arts.
*society has a better appreciation of the role of the Arts in healthy communities,
*Patrons, participants and the public are as crucial as Arts practitioners in providing community Arts experiences.

How do Arts people network in your community?


5 thoughts on “Arts Networking and Community Strengthening

  1. There’s a Council body (most ppl think its a right or left wing control centre depending on their politics), lots of ad hoc groups reflecting different activities\disciplines, social groups and the like. There are also many artists who abhor networking and just do their thing then sell it.

    1. Yes, their are many Arts people who avoid networking here, too. I think it often stems from a shyness in tooting their own horns – afterall most people were raised to be modest – and not to speak to strangers!

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