A new study in the State's Mid West will test the longstanding belief that engaging in the arts has a positive influence on the social wellbeing of regional communities.
Researcher Julia Anwar McHenry, a PhD student at The University of Western Australia, will spend three years studying the impact of repertory clubs, live music events, touring shows, line dancing, festivals and craft groups on country towns.
Ms Anwar McHenry is interested in the role of the arts within a community and the extent to which the arts contribute towards the vitality, identity and resilience of regional communities.
"I'm looking forward to spending time in the Mid West to get a feel for the extent of arts activity in the region, but also the perception of arts within these communities," Ms Anwar McHenry said.
"I want to study how the arts compare to sport and other activities in the ways they can bring towns together, create a sense of identity or contribute to making strong communities."
The research builds on her 12-month research project completed in 2005, which studied arts participation and wellbeing in the Shire of Denmark, as well as her own experience as an artist and involvement in local community festivals.
"As a dancer, musician and former festival committee member, I know how the arts makes me feel and I'm keen to make a contribution in this area, not just in an academic sense, but in a way that can directly benefit the communities involved," she said.
She travels to Wogarno station near Mt Magnet next Tuesday, March 25, before spending three nights in Meekatharra (March 26-28), Cue (March 29-30) and Mt Magnet (March 31-April 4). Ms Anwar McHenry also plans to visit the Shires of Perenjori and Three Springs in late April.
The research is supported by an Australian Research Council Linkage grant in partnership with Country Arts WA, the Department of Culture and the Arts, The University of Western Australia and Curtin University. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Country Arts WA toll free on 1800 811 883.
Julia Anwar McHenry 0422 538 116
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) 61 8 6488 5563 / 0432 637 716