In this day and age, it’s difficult to comprehend how women remain dramatically under-represented within the artistic landscape, compared to their male counterparts.
Statistics reveal that just four per cent of modern artists in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection are female and just two per cent of global art auction spending is on work by female artists.
The Barossa Women’s Artist Residency Project, driven by The Barossa Council and the Barossa Regional Gallery, aims to reduce this inequity by providing established female artists an opportunity to experiment and grow their practice within the environs of the Barossa region.
“Given the imbalance in representation of women within professional arts practice I was keen to see if we could come up with a project to help restore the balance in some small way,” Barossa Women’s Artist Residency Project instigator, Maz McGann said.
“The idea of women coming together to support other women is a really strong motivator for me personally, especially in the Barossa where there are so many strong, capable women.”
With its own unique identity, the project is the first of its kind in the Barossa Valley and has already garnered support from both people within the local art scene and a myriad of industries.
The annual residency program is expected to cost between $10,000 and $15,000 per year, including in-kind support from the Barossa Regional Gallery.
“We were looking for a minimum of 20 local contributors who were willing to support the project by donating $500 per year,” The Barossa Council Team Leader Gallery and Creative Industries, Ms Rowena Sloane said.
“We received that support within a couple of weeks, which completely surpassed our goals and expectations.”
Barossa Mayor Bim Lange expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming support of the community to make the three-year program possible.
“The groundswell of support for this initiative once again highlights the tremendous generosity of the community we live in,” Mayor Lange said.
The program will be open to both Australian and international artists across all artforms, including painting, sculpture, literature, architecture, cinema, music and theatre, allowing them to spend four to six weeks in the region, engaging with people and the Barossa culture whilst also creating work.
“The project is a fantastic opportunity to recognise the great contribution women make to the Barossa region,” Maz said.
“From a local perspective, the residency project will enable local artists both male and female to broaden their networks and learn from artists who come from other parts of the world.
“Most importantly it also has the potential to put the Barossa on the map from an arts perspective – something that is really important not only for me personally but for the strength and sustainability of the region.”
As part of their residency, the artist will participate in a minimum of four public programs within the region.
This may include a workshop or masterclass, mentoring a local artist, presenting an artist talk and or education session with a local school.
“There’s a certain reciprocity that comes from the engagement between the artist in residence and our community,” Ms Sloane said.
“The community can learn from that person and that person in turn learns from engaging with them, which then influences what they create.
“So, for us it’s not just about an outcome, a painting or exhibition at the end.
“It’s about the journey, the relationships and shared understandings that are developed throughout.”
The Barossa Council and Barossa Regional Gallery will begin seeking expressions of interests for the residency program in forthcoming months.
Each artist will be expected to supply a proposal detailing their goals and objectives for the residency, their CV and examples of work.
The artist will then be selected by a panel comprising of local arts industry professionals and three to four members from the Donor Pool.
“This residency provides yet another opportunity to reflect on our rich cultural heritage and the place we call home,” Mayor Lange said.
“We look forward to creating ongoing artistic opportunities that reinforce the Barossa as a premier arts and cultural destination.”