Gunnedah Community Forum

‘Heading West’ is a region-to-region response to arts and disability development in regional NSW. It partners the successes of the Accessible Arts North Coast 'Creating Connections' program with the emerging New England Arts North West 'Enable Arts' program.

Approximately fifteen people attended the forum that was held in Gunnedah on Tuesday, 26 October, 2015. At this forum we followed a slightly different agenda than the usual community forums that Accessible Arts usually facilitates in regional centres. Gunnedah is a smaller community hence we had a smaller group and we thought it was important to manage this forum more like a round table discussion to foster inclusivity within the group. As a half day forum we were much more focused on discussion and outcomes of ways to move forward in the region rather than having presentations and videos etc.

It was fantastic to have such a good representation of local organisations at the forum and there was opportunity at the beginning of the forum for everyone to introduce themselves and their organization that the work that they so within the arts and disability sector in Gunnedah.

The individuals and organisations included Gunnedah Home & Community Care, Two Rivers Arts Council, Gunnedah Visual Arts Group, Gunnedah Conservatorium, Gunnedah Youth Theatre, Ability Links, Aboriginal Support facilitator, Artist, High School teachers from Narrabri and Gunnedah, Life without Barriers coordinator.

Following the introductions by Caroline Downer and Stephanie Brummell Accessible Arts, Arts Development Manager Kris Tito led a discussion around some of the opportunities available to regional organisations by Accessible Arts including funding and advocacy. Kris also spoke about the Artist Run Initiative that she is managing across the state and there was opportunity after this discussion for questions.

In small groups, participants were asked to share, discuss and record ideas guided by the questions:

1.Identify the most common gaps that inhibit artists/people with a disability from fully participating in the arts in a regional area as

(a) audience (b) artists


Personal support
Venue access and transport
Lack of confidence
Stigmata of artists with disability
Isolation and lack of effective networks
Unintegrated communities
Lack of local councils playing larger role

2. What are the major challenges that your organisation has faced when aiming to attract a mainstream audience to events e.g. International day for people with a disability?


Segregation – putting people in boxes
Exclusion of people with disabilities
Lack of promotion and knowing what events are happening in the region
Lack of resources
Finance and legalities
paperwork and red tape
Lack of commitment and following through with organizing events

3. What are the priorities you would like to see initiated during the life of the ‘Heading West’ project?Which initiatives would have benefits beyond the first two years?


Structured format to the project
Coordinator passion for the project
Connecting and networking
Professional practice development- greater opportunities “level up” / creative exchange
New England North West Arts and Disability festival/expo

4.How do we create stronger networks and communication between organisations and individuals to minimise the feeling of isolation that can exist when working in the arts and disability arena in a regional area?


Use social media to relay event information and opportunities
Advertising of events and opportunities across all media
‘Connect forum’
Education – disability awareness/skills development
Streamlining database to be current and effective


The major priority that was identified moving forward was the need for a session on Disability Action Plan training for organisations as well as the sharing of a database specifically for Arts and Disability organisations and individual artists with disability.


The Community forum offered an opportunity for networking and a sharing of information, knowledge and ideas very valuable for gaining community support and investment in the Heading West project moving into 2016.

Accessible Arts would like to thank everyone who came and supported the forum.