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Happy Mondays - Stephen Clark

In this week's Happy Mondays we talk with Stephen Clark....

  1. What are you creatively working on at the moment?

I’ve recently returned from Thailand where I was engaged in the set up of a cultural exchange project between Australia and Thailand. This project goes for 8 weeks and involves a Queensland artist working with women in a rural Thai village recycling waste materials into arts and crafts products. Currently, I work on the Quilpie Shire Arts and Cultural Plan, which is due for completion today. This has been a great project and one which will build on the wonderful work that has been done by the good people of Quilpie over many years and will provide the direction for the further development of arts and culture over the next 3-5 years. At the coalface, I continue to work around the State delivering arts business and management workshops to artists, arts workers and arts organisations. I’ve just returned from three days in Gladstone and will away six times over the next seven weeks.


  1. Where would we find you on a Monday?

On Mondays, if I’m not returning from a trip to regional Queensland, you’ll inevitably find me in my office. Today I have to wrap up my past three days in Gladstone and then have a telephone hook up with my clients in Quilpie to finalise the Arts and Cultural Plan. There’s some preparation for my workshops this coming weekend in St George and a little bit of admin and business promotion I need to do to keep up to date. Then I’ll go for a late afternoon cycle ride around the river.


  1. Three arts and cultural experiences in regional Queensland you would never miss and why?

This is a tough one. There is so much going on in regional Queensland and as I travel so much, it’s hard to get to the same event two years in row. When travelling I always make a point of checking out the local regional gallery. If at all possible, I would always try to ink in one of the epic scale Queensland Music Festival regional community events into my diary. There is nothing quite like these marvellously rich, entertaining, original music theatre works made by local communities in collaboration with the expertise of QMF. Thrilling. Other than that I am always attracted by local harvest festivals or events that have a distinctive local character. This year I have pencilled in: Jumpers and Jazz in Warwick; the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival and the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival in Winton.


  1. What is your prediction for the regional Queensland arts sector in the next ten years?

Over thirty years I have seen remarkable development of arts, culture and creativity in regional and remote communities. There are many cultural champions who continue to drive extraordinary and wonderful things. Now, it’s not so much about reinvention but more about appropriate encouragement, recognition and support to foster creativity, new ideas and greater diversity so that the cultural momentum can continue to flourish.  Although our communities are experiencing significant economic, social and environmental challenges, the greater regard for the role and value that cultural vitality can contribute to community well-being will be an important factor in resilience and regeneration. I have little doubt that this momentum will continue, local communities will flourish as a result and that this will attract many visitors wanting to share in these unique experiences.


  1. What was your first or strongest experience that made you realise the value of the arts?

Ahh. I vividly recall the moment I fell in love with the arts. The instant the orchestra struck up, the red velvet curtain was raised and the magic of My Fair Lady spilled out from the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne. I was hooked and shortly thereafter made the performing arts my first career. Cut to 15 years later, now living in Brisbane and in the thick of the community arts scene, I began to realise the power of the arts to communicate, engage and explore ideas in a community context. From there it was a short leap to understand the broader public of value arts and culture and ideas around cultural vitality in communities. From that initial, deeply personal resonance it’s been a slow burn from inside out to understand the big picture of arts and culture and the significance of this to the well-being of the planet.


Stephen Clark


Stephen Clark, Director, ArtsReach Queensland and former Executive Officer, Flying Arts Alliance Inc: From a successful performing arts background based interstate, Stephen has worked in the Queensland arts sector since 1985. He has worked across Queensland in arts management and touring, event & festival production, cultural development and tourism destination marketing. He has worked extensively with local communities and local governments to enhance sense of place and identity, promote creative enterprise and advance professional development in the arts sector.


Jennifer Wright (Summers) | 28/04/2016 | 10:57 AM

Hello Stephen, Arts Council Toowoomba is applying for a grant and would like you to help us through this period of change by being a facilitator to engage with other LACs in our region. We needed to speak to you about this and I have lost your card. So please contact us.

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