Barkly Regional Arts (BRA) is the regional hub for the arts in the Barkly region. Its remit to deliver arts programs and initiatives in the region is as large as the region itself. BRA has evolved from a project-driven to a program-driven arts organisation. Critical to these programs are that BRA provides an interface between mainstream and Indigenous cultures that reaffirm core BRA values including a celebration of and respect for cultural diversity and recognition of a unique Indigenous demographic.
The organisation currently provides 50 annual programs or projects to over 800 artists throughout the Barkly region including 120 Indigenous visual artists, 300 Indigenous musicians including 24 bands, 7 gospel choirs, 30 traditional Indigenous singers, 50 traditional Indigenous dancers, 20 writers, 250 young people and 80 children.
The Barkly regional demographic also reveals high levels of unemployment, social disadvantage and cultural erosion. BRA adopts the regional role of developing resilient community development and cultural maintenance arts programs. It implements that role using arts as a platform for opportunity, engagement, and support and benefits across a range of economies: social, cultural maintenance, community well being, career pathways, financial, health and the celebration of regional arts. With increasingly secure funding and support BRA has developed strategies to create community benefits that are long-term and sustainable.
BRA was established in 1996, as a networking and resource organisation to respond to community needs across the Barkly region in the Northern Territory. In 2007 BRA was granted six-year (2008 – 2013) Key Producer funding from the within the Community Partnerships sector of the Australia Council for the Arts, enabling the development of long-term programs and assisting with tenure of staff.
BRA operates in a vast and remote region of Australia of 283,648 square kilometres, which represents 20% of the landmass of the Northern Territory (NT) and is bigger than Victoria. The main industries for the region are pastoral, mining, tourism, and government services. BRA is based in Tennant Creek where it develops programs, across art forms, within the township and to remote Indigenous communities and homelands throughout the region through our outreach community engagements.
BRA is the only arts organisation within the Barkly that offers art opportunities across the whole population of approximately 7,500 people. 25% of the population is aged less than 17 years and approximately 70% of the population of the Barkly Region are Indigenous. The Barkly Region is home to sixteen Indigenous nations, including the following language groups: Warumungu, Warlpiri, Alyawarr, Kaytetye, Warlmanpa, Wakaya, Mudburra, Wambaya, Jingili, Kudanji, Ngarnga, Binbinga, Garrawa, Yanyuwa, Waanyi and Mara.
The vastness and sparsely populated nature of the region present logistical and expensive challenges for BRA, an organisation working throughout it. Distances are vast and travel is often over unsealed roads. Although artistic expression and arts development is valued highly by members of remote communities, obtaining simple facilities and access to support that will enable these communities to sustain and grow their arts practice can be challenging.
Watch a virtual tour of Barkly Regional Arts and it’s programs/projects that Media mob filmed and streamed live around the world as part of Anti Poverty Week 2014.