Community Interest Representative
Ken Lloyd AM
After 17 years as Chief Executive Officer, I retired from Country Arts SA in late 2010.
Although my office was based at Port Adelaide, I was rarely there. I was usually travelling around country South Australia.
At Country Arts SA we operated five regionally-based theatres, supported around a dozen regional offices and managed both performing arts and visual arts touring programs. I often used to joke and say, ‘Name a town in country South Australia and I have more than likely opened a touring exhibition in it.’
We had many successes over the years, but one story stands out. In 2008, after a year of planning and with the support of the South Australian Government, we established the state’s first Regional Centre of Culture. This included funding for new arts infrastructure and a year-long program of arts events and activities.
The successful town was Port Augusta and at first I wasn’t sure how this new program would be received. However, I should not have worried. With the support of the local council, we redeveloped the small 120 seat performing arts space and opened a new art gallery as part of the new cultural hub situated right in the middle of town. Over the year of arts activities, we sold out, or fully subscribed, almost every performance, exhibition or workshop. The 2008 Regional Centre of Culture was an outstanding success.
This was evidenced by literally hundreds of local citizens telling me that Port Augusta was now a different place. This was confirmed at a big celebration which was held to thank the hundreds of volunteers who had helped us organise many of the events and activities. I remember going back to the hotel that night and thinking, ‘We’ve done well here. We’ve done well because the community thinks differently about itself and attitudes have shifted.’
Throughout my years in the regional arts sector I have been part of numerous community consultations and have attended literally hundreds of community meetings. I have listened to local people telling me about what they would love to see happen in their town and how they would love to see the arts transform their local community. If, in my role on the Australia Council as a Community Interest Representative, I can promote these voices, I will be happy.