NEW CANVAS: Councillor Rod Kelly is encouraging artists, tourism operators and business operators to beautify Warwick and the Southern Downs with outdoor art projects such as at the train precinct silos.
NEW CANVAS: Councillor Rod Kelly is encouraging artists, tourism operators and business operators to beautify Warwick and the Southern Downs with outdoor art projects such as at the train precinct silos. Sophie Lester

Arts to boost Southern Downs tourism

IN AN effort to drive tourism dollars into the region, councillors and curators are working to bring art to the community, outside of gallery walls.

Southern Downs tourism portfolio councillor Rod Kelly said the arts were just one of the ways the council was looking to reinvigorate tourism for Warwick and the region.

"The current level of the Australian dollar has encouraged more people to holiday at home and we need to take full advantage of that," Cr Kelly said.

"I think everyone has at least a bit of culture and creativity in them, and protecting our cultural heritage and attractions is vitally important in continuing to convey the uniqueness of our region.

"Street art is one example - painting on the grain silos near the railway precinct could enhance what the Southern Downs Steam Railway's hard-working volunteers have established."

I think embracing the arts and cultural tourism will pay dividends for our region, as it already has in Stanthorpe."

Though the grain silos are an ideal blank canvas, Cr Kelly said artists wouldn't be limited to just one area of town.

He said he would like to see local artists and business people collaborate to beautify Warwick's alleys and industrial areas with large scale art projects.

"While I'd say we'd always leave the artworks open to community consultation, it will likely be up to businesses to say they're happy to have this work done on their property," he said.

"I think anything that can be done to enhance the appearance of the town and get people interested in visiting will be of benefit to everyone in the town."

Last year, Stanthorpe was chosen as a satellite location for Toowoomba's First Coat Festival, with Brisbane artist Guido van Helten creating a mural of 100-year-old Angelo Valiente.

 

INSET: Guido van Helten working on a mural in Stanthorpe.
INSET: Guido van Helten working on a mural in Stanthorpe. Amy Kadel

Stanthorpe Regional Art Gallery director Mary Findlay said the cooperation between the council, artists local businesses had already brought street art to the wider community.

"One of my main aims is to break down physical and emotional barriers of the art gallery and think about how we get art into the community," Ms Findlay said.

"It's a great thing for our tourism and young people and right now there's lots of cooperation to get this work done, with council and businesses offering spaces."

Ms Findlay said the art gallery was working on bringing the First Coat experience back to the Granite Belt in 2017, but hoped the enthusiasm for street art and other projects would spread.

"I hope we can share this with every part of the region, not just Stanthorpe, whether that's through opportunities to be a satellite town in First Coat or otherwise," she said.

"It's important we're all supporting one another and create this energy for our arts community in South East Queensland."



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