About South West Arts
South West Arts provides strategic direction for sustainable arts and cultural development in the south-west of New South Wales.
We are a partnership between Regional Arts NSW and the local government regions of Balranald, Berrigan, Carrathool, Edward River, Hay and Murray River.
South West Arts has an elected board of volunteers and we employ staff members who coordinate and implement arts and cultural development programs across our region.
The South West region covers an area of around 78,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 38,000.
The region is particularly well known for the Murray and Murrumbidgee River, being dubbed "The Plains" due to its very flat geography and being a predominantly agricultural region.
The region serviced by South West Arts comprises of six Government Areas:
Staff at South West Arts
Kerry-Anne joined South West Arts in 2015. Kerry-Anne’s career spans Federal, State and Local Government focusing on regional, economic and community development. Most of her career has concentrated on southern NSW and northern Victoria, having lived in the region since 1992.
Administration and Projects Officer
Brooke joined the team at South West Arts in February 2020.
Brooke is a country girl who spent most of her childhood in Coleambally and has lived in Deniliquin for the past 13 years. She has a very good understanding of the region having previously worked for Regional Development Australia – Murray and brings with her specialist skills in business administration, finance and project management.
END FM Station Manager
The South West Arts volunteer board meets 4 times per year around the local region.
Current members are welcome to nominate for the South West Arts board at any time during the year prior to the AGM in April each year. Please download and complete a member form and board nomination form and submit via email to the South West Arts office. Please note that you need to be an adopted general member before submitting a board nomination.
Rowena works as a Rural Counsellor for Southern New South Wales and was previously a Business Advisor for the Central Murray Business Enterprise Centre (BEC); President Murella Club Deniliquin; and Vice Commodore, Treasurer/Secretary The Multihull Yacht Club of Victoria.
Rowena holds a Master Business Administration and BA Business (Marketing) as well as having a wealth of experience in fundraising corporate relationship management and event management.
Narelle is an artist and a passionate disability advocate and supporter of mental health programs and campaigns particulary as they improve the quality of life for farming communities and their families.
Narelle founded an arts program called Art Relief, that provides free art workshops for farmining communities impacted by drought.
Ray Davy is an advocate for the arts and the role the arts can play in driving social and economic transformation in rural and remote communities.
Ray is the Director of Infrastructure and Development with Balranald Shire Council and brings with him vast experience and skills in regional economic development, finance, law and specialist local government knowledge.
In April of 2021, Ray was appointed to the Board of Regional Arts NSW.
Michelle Cobb works for Edward River Council as Manager Community and Economic Development. Michelle has experience in the arts and tourism sectors and joined the SWA Board in 2021. Michelle holds BA of Economics and Marketing and has over 16 years of of working in Economic Development in Local Government.
Former Hay Community Radio Station Manager and Outback Theatre for Young People board member, has specialist skills in communication, media and networking.
Ian is a man of many talents. He currently works and the Art Gallery Director, Swan Hill Rural City Council and is an artist in his own right, practicing his craft since 1986. He is also a musician, fine arts lecturer and curator and brings project management skills, public institution management to his role with SWA.
Ian holds BA Fine Arts, Grad Dip Education, Master of Arts (Research), Dip Management Cert iv Workplace Training and Assessment.
Hank van Apeldoorn
Hank has been involved with the Balranald Community Arts and Crafts Inc and the Southern Cross Inc, while also being the Vice president at Can Assist Balranald. Hank joined the board in 2022.
Raymond "Splinta" Woods
Splinta, a Wiradjuri Elder from Hay NSW, joined the SWA Board in 2019. He is a Wiradjuri Language Teacher, Youth Worker and is a project consultant to the fabulous Outback Theatre for Young People (OTYP). Ray brings a wealth of lived experience and passion in cultural heritage to the SWA Team.
History of South West Arts
Initiated in 1983 through the joint effort of several local government bodies, the Arts Council of NSW and interested members of the community, the organisation commenced with the establishment of the RADO (Regional Arts Development) position.
In 1997, South West Arts became fully devolved from the Arts Council of NSW and is now regionally self-managed by an elected board.
South West Arts has enhanced the cultural life of communities in the south-west for over 25 years. During this period, South West Arts has consistently received strong local government support, with local government contributions to the program increasing annually.
In response to the small number of cultural institutions in the region, South West Arts has been the catalyst to developing two significant programs, both of which are now fully independent organisations to their own right. In 1989 South West Arts ran a three-month pilot program in youth theatre. This lead to the eventual establishment of the Outback Theatre Program (a mobile youth and community theatre resource servicing western NSW), which now has evolved into a fully independent program – Outback Theatre for Young People. South West Arts also played a role in establishing a music program – South West Music Regional Conservatorium, which is now based in Deniliquin.
Members of South West Arts believe that involvement in the arts assists the social structure of communities, as it is understood to strengthen and unite communities by creating a better environment and quality of life. There are also economic advantages where arts and cultural development creates employment and encourages tourism by promoting and developing the identity of the region.
South West Arts values the important cultural history of the south west region, and works to enhance and create sustainable cultural opportunities for our communities.