Applied arts and regional communities (AARC)

Applied Arts and Regional Communities (AARC) is a group that delivers arts-based research and services that grow creative, healthy and resilient regional communities,  

Applied Arts and Regional Communities is a group that delivers arts-based research and services that grow creative, healthy and resilient regional communities. The AARC team collaborates across sectors and all levels of government to build local creative capacity and demonstrate and deploy the value of art and creativity in developing, revitalising and connecting regional communities.   

Our goal is to deliver research and practical solutions that support economic growth, cultural vitality, and wellbeing outcomes across rural, regional and remote Australia. To achieve this, AARC takes a holistic approach to the creative arts in communities. We work across artistic disciplines and with a broad range of partners to implement and evaluate programs that develop local skills and connect the arts meaningfully with health, tourism, education, local government and community development. Through collaborative projects and processes AARC contributes to strengthening and sustaining regional arts sectors for community-wide benefit.

Cluster Leader

Dr Elizabeth Ellison,au 


No Dramas: participatory action research using applied theatre in regional Queensland to enable youth-led communication on health and justice priorities


Social media is an under-utilised resource for the delivery of health and justice information to young people in Central Queensland. Through a participatory action research applied theatre project we developed short-form videos for platforms like TikTok and Instagram. 


68 young people include 4 actors and a videographer were co-researchers in the project. The resulting TikTok clips are gaining more views and likes everyday 


The College of Law, Criminology and Justice 

Funding from Queensland government through the Department of Science and the environment 

Project Lead Dr Linda Lorenza 

An examination of primary teacher, student and parent experiences of arts learning online during COVID-19 lockdown 


This study aims to demonstrate that arts learning improves primary-aged students’ well-being and self-esteem, can reduce stress and anxiety, and develops students’ socialization skills. In this research we ask the students and the teachers about their online and comparable face-to-face arts learning experiences. We will also ask parents/caregivers about what they observed in their child’s online learning experience during the lockdown periods. 

 The findings of this study will inform the development of digital case study exemplars of ‘best practice’ arts learning online and face-to-face to be made available online for teachers to review and selectively apply in their own school contexts. 


The study will have a national impact as it will identify, explore and evaluate the perspectives of online arts learning experiences reported by primary-aged students, their teachers and their parents/caregivers from across Australia 


University of Technology, Sydney 

University of Southern Queensland 

University of Melbourne 

University of Canberra 

Queensland University of Technology 

Project Lead Dr Linda Lorenza 

Heart of our Identity: Whitsunday Arts, Cultural and Heritage Plan (WACH Plan) 


The Whitsunday Regional Council is developing an Arts, Cultural and Heritage Plan and community feedback, visions and ideas have been gathered (through a series of informal community forums, industry forums and brainstorming sessions) to inform the region’s 2023 –2028 Arts and Cultural and Heritage Plan. CQUniversity was awarded a contract to undertake community consultation and professional development to inform the development of the Plan, which is due for release in 2023. Using an arts-led engagement methodology across four phases, the team has developed a five year plan responding to community needs, priorities, and opportunities.  


The team consulted with over 250 artists, creatives, practitioners, and local groups and business as well as delivering industry relevant professional development opportunities alongside the community consultation process. The plan will inform local policy and community activity within the Whitsunday region until 2028, and contributes to CQUniversity’s remit as a Regional Arts Services Network provider.


Whitsunday Regional Council (funding body) 

Project Leads: Wanda Bennett and Dr Liz Ellison 

Project Team: Kaylene Butler, Karen Newman, Lara Russell, Morph Consulting (Stu Watters and Ant McKenna), Patty Preece  

Creative Business Champions ++ 2022 


The Creative Business Champions program delivered online mentoring for artists, artsworkers, and arts organisations across Queensland between June and November 2022. The CBC+ program was supported by the Regional Arts Services Network (RASN), an initiative of the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. It included three elements: an online creative and cultural business mentoring program, a bespoke First Nations online platform to support arts business growth (with Tagai Management Consultants), and the development and delivery of a suite of seven online arts business micro-credentials.  


The program employed 15 Creative Business Champions to provide six months of mentoring across 41 local government areas within Queensland.  and nearly 17% of the program participants identified as First Nations. Mentees in the program identified improved focus and clarity for their arts business and/or career.  


Arts Queensland (funding body), Tagai Management Consultants, CQU’s Centre for Professional Development 

Project Lead: Dr Liz Ellison 

Project Research Team: Patty Preece, Bobby Harreveld, Vicki Saunders, Linda Lorenza, John Rolfe, Alex Russell as well as Ant McKenna, Alex McCallum, Deborah Power, Ali Hickling, and Luz Stanton.