Unique Challenges in Developing Capacity in Rural and Remote Australia: Arts Utility in Growing Rural and Remote Places
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The development of capacity is a relevant concern in the face of the spatially uneven outcomes of globally-driven economic and societal change. This spatial inequity is highly pronounced in rural and remote regions of Australia, with particular concern over the challenges posed by ageing and declining populations. Increasing interest is being paid to factors that determine resilience of rural and remote communities, and how capacity can be fostered, developed, and maintained over time. The utility of the arts in developing capacity in rural and remote Australia has been a topic of increasing interest to researchers, policy makers, and the communities themselves. For rural and remote communities, many challenges are posed by vast distances and very low population densities. These challenges can be mitigated by the arts through their ability to communicate and strengthen place identity and culture, as a setting for social and civic participation, and in supporting innovation and economic regeneration. Using the unique setting of the Mid West region of Western Australia, this chapter reviews the utility of the arts as a tool for capacity development in some of Australia's most disadvantaged and remote regions. This chapter shows the fundamental difference of arts practice in these regions revealing distinct cultures and lifestyles that are inherently shaped by notions of distance, and the scarcity of human resources and economic capital. In acknowledging the utility of the arts to develop economic, human, and social capital and foster enabling environments for increased wellbeing and quality of life, there is an obligation to support the arts as a vehicle to develop capacity in rural and remote communities.
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