Arts ‘key’ for healthy community
Horsham mayor Pam Clarke has used an example set by Horsham-born theatre star Alex Rathgeber to encourage Horsham families to keep the door open for children to pursue artistic careers or pastimes.
Cr Clarke said Rathgeber’s 14-year career as a theatrical performer, which has included him playing a key role in national touring production of The Wizard of Oz, was a prime example of how someone from Horsham could make it ‘to the big stage’.
She said it was important that people growing up in Horsham and other Wimmera communities felt confident they could include the Arts in efforts to broaden their horizons.
“The Arts are such an important part of society. All healthy and progressive communities have vibrant and creative artistic organisations and individuals, whether it is in disciplines such as music, dance, performance or the various platforms for visual, interactive fine art. Art helps us all grow as people and communities,” she said.
Cr Clarke said Rathgeber’s success added to the justification of Horsham supporting art-based major infrastructure projects as well as regular events and programs.
“In following the career of Alex and others from across the Wimmera who are pursuing their dreams in the tough art and entertainment industry – be on the stage or behind the scenes – it tells us that we probably have a richer and more diverse culture than we realize,” she said.
“It is on a growing understanding of this that we have promoted and pursued projects, such as the redevelopment of Horsham Town Hall, and continued to do so.
“We’ve recognised it for many years in sport but we can often take for granted the other talent we’re fostering – talent that is bubbling away in our own backyards.
“We’re not just talking about our potential to produce international stars, but more about promoting our community’s collective ability to explore and develop our ability to be creative.”
Cr Clarke said a significant aspect of recognising the importance of the Arts in a regional community was understanding that it was culturally enriching.
“It fundamentally makes our part of the world somewhere that is attractive to live and prosper,” she said. “And it is not only about bricks and mortar – it is also about unveiling abilities and talent and celebrating the passion that people have in pursuing everything from singing, dancing and performing to creating art works.
“It simply makes Horsham a better place to live and something I have always been passionate about. We only have to open our eyes and look in our own family and friends circles to identify the natural talent we have in our community.
“It is always there. We all know of someone who is artistically outstanding, yet have taken that for granted. We need to not only recognise these talents, but also help open the doors and give them more opportunities.
“I found the talent on show at a cultural diversity day in Horsham simply staggering and if anyone wants further examples of what everyday people can do, they can simply go to one of Horsham Arts Council’s productions.”
• Alex Rathgeber update, see page 10.