Partnerships, collaboration and big picture thinking were the key themes at the recent Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum held in Newman.

Attracting more than 220 delegates from across Australia, including Alice Springs, Melbourne and Sydney, and from across the Pilbara region, the Forum explored the current strengths of the Pilbara’s creative and cultural sector and opportunities for future growth.

Culture and the Arts Minister the Hon. David Templeman, who opened the Forum, called the creative elements of our culture “vital to who we are and who we want to be.”

Building transformational partnerships between government, the resources industry and the creative sector was highlighted throughout the two-day Forum as key to creating a stronger, more diverse and resilient sector in the Pilbara.

Michael Woodley, Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum, 2018. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor.

Keynote speaker and Head of Corporate Citizenship at KPMG Catherine Hunter encouraged greater collaboration between businesses and the creative sector.

“Businesses can be a force for good and have a critical role in social impact. Art can change the story more powerfully than any other medium,” Ms Hunter said.

Melbourne Festival Director Jonathon Holloway, who brought The Giants to Perth in 2015, delivered a keynote presentation encouraging the sector to think big and not be limited by the need to seek permission.

“Creating The Giants, we knew we wouldn’t get a yes, but what we got were a thousand not-no’s,” Mr Holloway said.

“This is the land of giants, of space, beauty and possibility.”

Jonanthan Holloway, Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum, 2018. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor.

Existing cultural infrastructure, art centres and programs in the Pilbara were recognised through case study presentations for their role in enhancing liveability, attracting tourists and capturing cultural knowledge.

Delegates heard about projects like Pujiman, a collaboration between two Pilbara Aboriginal art centres, which has propelled the creative development and career opportunities of younger artists and laid the foundations for long term, continuous partnerships between regional art centres.

Digital technology was also raised as a key growth opportunity with Roebourne organisation BighART sharing the success of an interactive online comic book titled Neomad which was developed to drive inter-cultural collaboration.

A series of workshops were held during the Forum where delegates were given an opportunity to discuss new ideas and opportunities to expand the Pilbara’s creative sector to create greater depth in the economy and increase employment and career opportunities.

Nicole Monks, Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum, 2018. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor.

Creating distinctive festivals and events, enhancing visitor experiences, commercialising and exporting creative products, and harnessing digital technology were all raised as potential opportunities for growth within the region’s sector.

FORM’s Executive Director Lynda Dorrington said the Forum’s program was driven by a need to provide alternative models of thinking and practice to present back to the region’s creative and cultural sector its capacity and its opportunities for growth.

“The Forum was a special moment in time for the Pilbara,” Ms Dorrington said.

“It brought the sector together to celebrate the strengths of current initiatives and find new opportunities that are possible through collaboration and stronger partnerships.”


The artists and arts workers behind Pujiman, Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum, 2018. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the Forum marked a turning point in the way the Pilbara’s creative and cultural sector would develop.
“The future prosperity of the Pilbara relies on our ability to create diversity within the economy and the creative and cultural sector will play an important part in this as a creator of employment and new economic growth,” he said.

Outcomes of the Forum will inform a region-wide creative and cultural strategy delivered by the Pilbara Development Commission.

“The resulting strategy will provide a blueprint for a more coordinated and effective approach to investment in arts and cultural infrastructure and initiatives and will ensure our regional art centres thrive long into the future,” Mr Hill said.

Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum, 2018. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor.

The Pilbara Creative and Cultural Forum was an initiative of the Pilbara Development Commission delivered in partnership with FORM, with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Lotterywest, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Screenwest, BHP, Shire of East Pilbara, Roy Hill, Yara, Newcrest, Woodside, Rio Tinto and FMG.