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The evolution of green arts

Fiona Vuibeqa and Lara Russell discuss the new Green Arts category in the Mackay Regional Arts Development fund….

Mackay Regional Council’s (MRC) Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) is consistently oversubscribed showing strong local demand for the program.

With the region experiencing an economic downturn, mostly due to the recent dip in the mining industry, the last few years have been challenging for many. As we watched a number of internal and external funding sources for the arts, culture & heritage sector diminish, the question was asked: “How can we extend our RADF program to meet demand with very limited resources?”

The answer for us was to pool funds wherever possible to extend each other’s “reach”. 



In 2015 we explored a partnership with MRC’s Parks, Environment and Sustainability Department to utilise an allocation of the Natural Environment Levy and match it with funds from our RADF allocation. With this we could offer a dedicated environmentally-focused category within the RADF community funding pool. 

Our Green Arts category was born. Offered once per year, the new category aims to support initiatives that focus on environmentally-based arts and cultural practice that highlights issues relating to our unique local biodiversity.

In its first year the category attracted enough submissions to make it competitive, and feedback from the community about the projects which received support has been very positive. 

The 2015-2016 funding year saw four projects funded including: 

  • Mackay Conservation Group’s Creation of new work - Threatened Endemic and Migratory Species: Clarke Ranges Ecosystems Mobile Immersion Display
  • Kerry McNeill and Owen Burns’ Concept Development for Platypus Wind Turbine dual purpose public art piece / power generator for their new gallery in Eungella; 
  • Jodie Connolly and Donna Robinson’s Techture, an awareness raising community arts project creating partnerships between local artists, schools and community groups; 
  • David Day’s creation of new work: The Wave – large -scale artwork utilising found beach debris (thongs), which premiered at the Mackay Airport Beach Horse Races Festival.



Being able to offer this category has: 

  • aided the creation of local, creative educational resources that can be used at local events to support tourism development within our region; 
  • supported further development of local cultural tourism infrastructure, such as a privately-run gallery in Eungella, which will assist to bring people out through the Pioneer Valley and up the Mountain and;  
  • given local artists an opportunity to engage others and be engaged themselves in projects that raise awareness of and celebrate our unique environment.

The Green Arts Category will be offered again in 2017, with the focus this time being on activities that coincide with the 2017 Queensland Coastal conference being held in our region in August 2017. 



This will provide an opportunity for local artists to create artworks or other installations that can be exhibited at the conference and showcase both our local artists and our region’s unique environment. It supports the notion of valuing our local arts and cultural resources by supporting locally-driven content for events, which in turn assists to stimulate economic growth as local creatives are employed. 

In this time of scarce resources it is vital to work together across departments to add value to what we do whenever we can. Don’t be scared to ask the question across the organisation: “What are you doing in the coming years? Is there anything we can support each other with?”

Having the support of management has helped us ask these questions and communicate effectively how partnering with the RADF program can extend what is possible and be of great benefit to all involved.



Fiona Vuibeqa & Lara Russell job share the role of Arts Development Officer within the Community Development team at Mackay Regional Council. Fiona is a practicing artist with a background in: sound design and installation; collaborative and community arts and; project management. Lara Russell has a Bachelor in Community Welfare and previously worked as the Local Area Multicultural Partnership (LAMP) Officer and within MRC’s Community Engagement Team.