Wonderland Shire: context


 Wonderland Shire Council Plan – About Wonderland Shire

Context: The Shire

·       has a unique combination of natural qualities and environments;

·       has significant manufacturing, retail, agricultural & service sectors;

·       is of cultural and historical significance;

·       geographically, is strategically placed in terms of economic and tourism potential, and quality of life.


·       Australian Bureau of Statistics data confirms that Wonderland Shire has significant challenges – particularly in the areas of household incomes, educational attainment, employment rates and health indices. Council is implementing a significant program to address these challenges.

This Cultural Development Plan refers to context and challenges for WS as documented in the Council Plan 2013-2017.

Cultural development resources and activities in the Shire

As evidenced by existing cultural resources and activities in the Shire, there is a strong awareness and appreciation of arts, culture and heritage in the Shire, particularly from people in the retired age group.

  • Council’s cultural infrastructure

Cultural infrastructure includes a fully operational Wonderland Shire Art Gallery, the Downton Town Hall, Station Domain amphitheatre, many halls in its small towns, plus access to a community theatre located at Downton Education Centre.

Wonderland Shire Art Gallery is fully equipped to museum (gallery) standards and able to host touring exhibitions. An active Friends of the Gallery group, with more than 80 members, contributes to the Gallery’s programs.

  • The Arts Department

Council’s Arts Department was established in 2004 responding to a committee of interested community members. It is currently staffed 1.5 EFT, with a full-time position of Arts Manager. The 0.5 component comprises two part-time staff at the gallery.

·      Go East

The Go East project is state government initiative underpinned by a focus on prevention and early intervention, which involves families to deliver improved literacy for children aged 0 – 8 years; building speech and language skills to provide a great start to learning. It seeks to develop supportive learning environments for youth to extend their future career options. The strategic, “place-based” approach targets the whole community and gives the community ownership of the plan, to ensure the plan’s sustainability.

Go East commissioned a report, completed in early 2015, titled A Future for community arts in which $142,500 has been allocated over three years for a sustainable community arts program. This report’s recommendations have been considered in the proposed activities in this plan.