The inspiration for the Colac Otway Arts Trail comes from a project developed in 2003 called Art Start, where it was identified that there wasn’t enough promotion and support for local artists and arts groups. A weekend exhibition was created at Balnagowan and a mini arts trail ran from there down through the Otways to Lavers Hill using buses as a demonstration of the possibilities of developing and arts space and arts tourism. The limited budget of about $1000, which covered the cost of the buses and the hire of the venue, meant there was no room for advertising. The project was organised and promoted by the volunteers involved.
It was hoped at the time that we could find a partner who might see the potential of such an idea and employ someone to organise this and make it an annual event.
Fourteen years later the same gap still applies in our shire while neighbouring shires are enjoying great success with their arts trail… bringing many people to visit their wonderful galleries and studios
So our volunteers are going to try again. Hopefully with the increase in use of social media we will be able to reach more artists to take part and open their studios and galleries for the weekend and be able to publicise the event far more widely to the community who will be able to participate
We chose the weekend of the Kana as a way of celebrating its 60th Anniversary. The idea developed from an invitation from the Kana committee to run an exhibition as part of the celebrations and grew from there.
We believe the adding of an Arts Trail to the weekend can spread the celebration over two days and add a new dimension to a community event that has taken place for the last 60 years and hope that it might bring another element to their celebration and bring a new vitality and interest to the event.
We have several galleries involved at this stage…COPAC will hold a curated exhibition called Adamas- From Ancient Greek ἀδάμας (adámas, “unconquerable, invincible”), as a tribute to the volunteers who have worked so hard to keep Kana alive. Plan B Gallery, Studio 92, Red Rock Regional Gallery and Gellibrand River Gallery have all expressed interest in their involvement.
We also have potters, felt makers, printmakers, painters, jewellers, glass artists and photographers expressing interest. Tim Lucas is hoping his new photographic book about the Otways will be ready to launch.
We welcome art forms of any medium to be involved and also invite community or educational groups who might wish to showcase what they do to the community.
For those artists who don’t have studio space we are also hoping to find a space for a pop up studio & gallery where they may bring their work to showcase it and promote themselves, so we are looking for a venue for that at present.
We are unfunded, and are looking for sponsorship to help with printing the maps and signage to give directions to the galleries and studios and also for publicity.
Creative Otways is our auspice so any donations to support the event can be tax deductible.
The big dream for the future is two-fold:
That we can make this Arts Trail successful so that it becomes an annual event and highlights the Colac-Otway Shire as a place to travel to not only for its physical beauty, its fabulous food, and wine and but also for its amazing art.
The Australian Council for the Arts reports that a modest investment in the arts can deliver significant return on investment for government agencies and private sectors
It also has statistics that Australians take 9.5 million day trips and 9.3 million overnight tips which involve cultural and heritage activities we would like to see the Colac-Otway shire as a cultural destination that can tap into that and increase our creative economy.
In looking at the liveability of a region, arts and culture contribute directly to the sense of place which attract both residents and investors. Many regional Victorian cities are investing in cultural infrastructure and activities to create vibrant and diverse local cultural offerings to attract new residents and investors.
The second dream is to have a Community Art and Studio Space in Colac,
A space where people can hire space to create either as individual artist or as groups. A space that has equipment available for use, that has space for artists to work or run workshops for the community.
For people who support the idea of community art space in Colac you can send an email registering your interest to email@example.com
Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far including Emma Clark for the Colac-Otway Shire and Julie Dyer, Arts Officer for the Surfcoast Shire.
We look to the future with hope and determination to make these dreams a reality.
More information can be found here: