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The social impact of a regional community contemporary dance program in rural and remote Western Australia

Anwar-McHenry, J., Carmichael, A. and McHenry, M.P. (2017) The social impact of a regional community contemporary dance program in rural and remote Western Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 63 . pp. 240-250.

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The dominance of cities as the centre of the knowledge-based economy in Australia has led to migration of creative artists away from regional centres and smaller cities. While the evidence is limited, it is suggested that the arts positively impact both economic and social sustainability of rural communities. This research sought to establish the social impact of a regional community contemporary dance program, Ausdance WA's Future Landings 2013. Specifically, whether the project enabled participants to 'belong' more to the local community and whether the projects increased capacity for contemporary dance in regional Western Australia. In 2013, Future Landings comprised of three projects representing communities in the Kimberley, Pilbara, and Great Southern regions of rural Western Australia. Data were collected on the extent of activities, partnerships, and media associated with the projects. Self-complete surveys to determine the social impact of the projects were collected from participants at baseline and post-project, as well as from audience members. Finally, focus group interviews were conducted at the project debrief to gather more in-depth information from participants. The findings suggest that the three Future Landings projects were successful in achieving the stated aims. That is, more than 90% of post-project survey respondents felt they had a good bond with, and were connected to their community, and over 80% of audience survey respondents felt the performance had a moderate to strong impact on their opportunities to socialise and feel part of the community. All the participants who responded to the post-project survey stated that their views on contemporary dance had changed as a result of participating in this project. These benefits were thought to extend to the audience as well, whose understanding of contemporary dance changed to something that is more accessible, relevant, and something that they can enjoy. Future Landings 2013 has provided a project development, implementation, and evaluation framework for future Community Arts and Cultural Development projects in regional Australia.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © Elsevier B.V.
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