The community of artists in Emu Park are eagerly awaiting the completion of its new Art Gallery in the centre of Emu Park. The gallery has been a part of the community for more than 14 years and has a well-established clientele, offering five or six new exhibitions of work each year and about 10 workshops for the community. With the loss of their former premises, they are now looking forward to the building of their new gallery, funded by the State Government and Livingstone Shire Council.
So how important is an Arts Centre and Art Gallery to the community?
The Arts make a vital contribution to our wellbeing in many ways. It is the arts and art galleries that engage our imagination and allow us to develop a new way of thinking. Vibrant public art spaces provide skills development and opportunities for community building, as well as a space for artists to share their work.
Results of recent studies of art galleries and the arts in general, reflect the positive contribution the arts make to local and regional communities. Galleries provide a response to the local art scene as a platform for local talented artists; they contribute to the local economy and foster a community pride and sense of belonging and identity. Currently, twenty five artists exhibit at the Emu Park Gallery, many of whom have exhibited both nationally and internationally. The new gallery plans to host a new exhibition every 8 weeks, as well as travelling exhibitions and those promoting the work of emerging artists.
Recent statistics reflect the importance of the role of an art gallery in Emu Park. In 2019 over 2000 visitors viewed the work of local artists and more than 400 people participated in workshops between 2017 to 2019. These workshops have not only focused on the ‘fine arts’ but in a range of artistic pursuits including music, poetry and artisan crafts. Each year the Emu Park Gallery offers at least 10 workshops for people of all abilities and all ages. Workshops are featured on both the gallery Facebook page and the webpage, and offer a range of art activities for all levels of expertise. There are many in the community who do not consider themselves artists, but have an affinity with the arts. There is an opportunity for people of all ages to become involved in the Emu Park gallery by volunteering, becoming a Friend of the Gallery in a friendly, social environment. The new gallery also looks forward to involving community members as ‘Associate members’, those who want to foster their artistic skills and artists who would like to display their art works in the gallery retail space.
The promotion of health and wellbeing has been identified in research as one of the significant benefits of the arts, improving the mental and physical health of participants, both art makers and viewers. Participating in the art process can reduce stress and develop a sense of self and achievement for both adults and children.
Another role of the arts is to promote positive change around stereotypical views and to bring social issues to a wider public discourse, creating an alternative perspective to social media, phones and laptops. Personal development in life skills, view of history and personal identity can be enhanced by the arts. Artists at the gallery often follow a theme for their exhibitions which offers an alternative view, or medium, to the style of art they generally work in and some artists focus on social commentary in their artwork. Further development of exhibitions is planned to widen the range and scope of artistic viewpoints.
The educational value of the arts is highlighted through school based arts curriculum, which sees the value of children engaging in artistic pursuits. Programs offered by galleries can be a valuable addition to mainstream education and allow children to engage directly with art works and the artists.Children’s workshops have been offered in the past and will continue to be offered, including family workshops where a range of skills can be catered for.
The mission of the new Emu Park Gallery, which has valued the arts for more than fourteen years, aims to continue to promote the value of the arts, not just visual art but also drama, music and other artistic pursuits, through its continued program of exhibitions, workshops and educational experiences, as well as building community through its volunteer program and social gatherings. The new space will offer the opportunity for the community to hire a studio space and to engage in a range of arts to enhance the creative life of Emu Park and the Capricorn Coast.
With predicted completion of the gallery in the middle of the year it is anticipated we may extend our membership of Artists and Friends of the Gallery. Interest in joining will be accepted after the AGM in April with a view to membership when the gallery opens. We look forward to an exciting and expanding interest in the arts on the Capricorn Coast.
For further information on the new gallery, the artists and workshops offered visit emuparkartgallery.com.au or our Facebook page.