A Place for the Arts in Rural Revitalisation and the Social Wellbeing of Australian Rural Communities
- Year: 2009
- Author: McHenry, Julia Anwar
- Journal Name: Rural Society
- Journal Number: Vol. 19, No. 1
- Country: Australia
Despite the significance of rural Australia to national identity, many commentators claim that rural Australia is in crisis and suffering from decline as a consequence of economic restructuring and policy reform (Gray and Lawrence, 2001; Sonn, Drew, and Kasat, 2002; Baum, O'Connor, and Stimson, 2005; Tonts and Atherley, 2005). As a result, the social wellbeing of people living in rural Australia has become an issue of major national significance. Despite a number of commentators suggesting that the arts could play a crucial role in the contribution to the social wellbeing of rural communities, there is an absence of thorough research in this field (Kingma, 2002; Matarasso, 1997; Mills and Brown, 2004; Williams, 1995) . The most rigorous research into the benefits and impact of the arts has been conducted with a focus on individual health and wellbeing in a clinical and therapeutic setting. Extensive research in a community setting however is somewhat limited. This paper demonstrates, through a review of the current literature, the place for the arts in rural revitalisation and therefore, the social wellbeing of a community, directly through tourism, income generation and employment opportunities, and indirectly by enhancing participation and creativity in public decision-making, strengthening community capacity, and strengthening identity and sense of place.