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Sustaining a career in the arts in regional Queensland

Mackay-based Jodie Connolly shares her experiences in sustaining a career in the arts…

Living and working, in a regional city can be difficult at times, but also highly rewarding. Resilience and hard work are some of the fundamental characteristics a regional artist needs to be able to face the present challenges, and these are the core attributes of a successful and dynamic regional arts environment. It also helps to be flexible and have an ability to create your own opportunities. Strong partnerships based on trust and mutual interest are also vital to maintaining a career, like those formed with local council, small business, community groups and other funding bodies.

Personally I can say that I have experienced some challenges in my own practice more recently, but have managed to overcome these with sheer determination and a passion for creativity.

To get through the challenges I have learnt to live by the motto ‘you have to be in it to win it’ and this is certainly the case when it comes to submission writing. For all of the knockbacks there will be those ones that are successful and they are so very satisfying. This last financial year I have written somewhere in the vicinity of 16 submissions for a number of different outcomes and out of these I was successful for about 5. The hours spent typing my thoughts onto paper are starting to get some traction, and propelling me into new and exciting direction.

Some of the highlights of this past year have been:

The relationship built with CreativeMove that stemmed from my initiative to book myself a professional development session with Flying Arts Inc. Honestly this is the best $35 investment I have ever made. I met John Stafford and eventually gained a commission for a $23,500 public art commission.

In August I was successfully commissioned to participate in the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival keynote project and worked with some fantastic people on my ‘Uncommon Places’ project.  I was certainly an artist from the fringe as most of the participating artists were from Victoria and mostly around Melbourne.

Back on local soil I have been collaborating with some wonderful local artists on a number of projects including public art submissions (not so successful) and community festivals (extremely successful).

Regional Arts serves as one of the social foundations of life outside of metropolitan cities, it helps us create a cultural identity and encourages us to celebrate diversity. Regional artists can also benefit greatly from expanding networks outside their own community, by gaining support from peers, and finding experiences beyond their region.

Staying connected to the local, national and global domain of contemporary arts is so much easier for artists due to new media technology. Never before have we been able to access the latest content of job, funding and professional development opportunities shared via social media. Technology has opened up new opportunities to work remotely using Skype, email, social media and phone. With all of these changes regional artists can stay current and participate in experiences beyond the borders of their own region.

Jodie Connolly is a qualified artist and arts educator who has over 20 years’ experience practising, teaching and studying in the Art and Design Industry in Australia and New Zealand. 

Since the completion of a Masters of Contemporary Art in 2011(HD in digital design specialisation) she has focussed on expanding her arts practice in an effort to push her work to a new level that reaches ‘out of the frame’, ‘over the wall’, moving and exploring the space in, around and outside of the gallery walls to find a place within public spaces locally, nationally and internationally. Her more recent projects have engaged the audience to interact with her art by moving, rearranging and removing the existing installation. Placing the role of artist into the publics’ hands.

Jodie recently completed a commission for the Melbourne Fringe 2015 keynote project called Uncommon Places, while working on an extension of this series of work that developed into a large scale interactive 2D exhibition called Disordre, held at the Grid Gallery in Toowoomba Qld. She currently teaches workshops independently in Mackay, North Queensland while pursuing opportunities within her arts practice. For further information about her practice: or