LGBT Art Prize Celebrates Rural And Regional Victorian Communities
With around one-third of Australia’s population living in regional or rural areas, minority communities can face enormous barriers to accessing services and community engagement.
The Macedon Ranges Accessible Arts Inc. (MRAAI) is hoping to be part of changing attitudes and increasing accessibility for Victorian communities with their second annual arts prize, Queerthentic, celebrating authentic stories of rural and regional LGBTQIA+ identities.
Regional Communities in the Spotlight
Presented as part of the Regional Activation Program – a joint venture between Midsumma and the Victorian Government – Queerthentic has also been made possible through sponsorships from local businesses including Collective Possibilities and Trentham Bendigo Bank.
Building on the success of 2023’s Regional Activations, Midsumma 2024 has expanded the program to include more events, exhibitions, anthologies, and film projects, bringing together isolated communities in a celebration of LGBTQIA+ identity and the unique lived experience of rural and regional life.
Rubber Ducks, Leather and Oil Paint
With submissions open to all mediums of two- and three-dimensional artworks, Queerthentic hopes to build on the success of MRAAI’s 2022 exhibition That’s So Gay, which engaged 1800 visitors, artists, volunteers, and judges across the region.
Artworks included sculptures by Martha Ackroyd Curtis made from a PVC fanny pack and rubber ducks, Beeza Knees’ Chicken-tita, a tribute to the iconic costumes of ABBA, and works made using embroidery, linocut, collage, oil paint, ground glass and even gold leaf.
On top of 2022’s $500 cash prize, That’s So Gay winner Christos Linou also won an opportunity to mount a solo exhibition which will be exhibiting at The Old Auction House, Kyneton from January 4 – 22, 2024.
Linou’s exhibition will be immediately followed by the Queerthentic opening on January 25, 2024, and the winner, runner up and people’s choice awards will be announced at a event with live music from local band The Femmes and the The Rainbow Voices Community Choir.
Increasing Access to Arts, One Exhibition at a Time
Founded in April 2022, MRAAI is dedicated to increasing access to arts for rural and regional minority and disadvantaged communities. In 2024 they hope to engage disabled communities and the aging population currently experiencing housing insecurity.
“We all know that the community for one person isn’t always the community for the other”, says curator Rhain, one of many reasons MRAAI is committed to encouraging authentic self-expression through art as a way of breaking down barriers and creating community through creative communication.
Entries From Every Postcode
While the prize celebrates rural and regional lived experience, that doesn’t mean artists currently living in cities are not eligible. MRAAI committee-member Jo is quick to confirm why: “Regional and rural artists often move to the city, [this exhibition celebrates and creates a platform for] their experience living regionally queer prior to moving.” Artists exhibited in That’s So Gay hailed from an impressive 18 postcodes, from the inner suburbs of Melbourne to Kyneton, Castlemaine, and Central Victoria.
Entries for Queerthentic are open until January 11 2025, with artworks to be received no later than 19 January at The Old Auction House, Kyneton. For more details visit MRAAI’s website, or contact the committee directly if you have any further questions.