Toowoomba has richer culture than Melbourne
A NEW York art curator has touted Toowoomba as having a richer culture than Melbourne.
Melbourne has long been known as the culture capital of Australia but not according to New York artist and author Sharon Louden.
She believes Toowoomba is a hotbed of regional cultural activity.
The Garden City appeared on her radar after she recently found out about the Arts Queensland funding cuts for Raygun Projects in 2015.
Raygun Projects delivers an art program in Toowoomba that benefits the community through a range of art projects.
It focuses on showing new and innovative art exhibitions and collaborative outcomes.
Raygun Projects has worked with more than 90 artists on solo exhibitions, and hosted 28 artists who have travelled internationally to show their work at the space.
It is owned and co-directed by artists Alexandra Lawson and Tarn McLean.
Ms Louden decided to visit Toowoomba with Hrag Vartanian, the co-founder of Hyperallergic which is an American online arts journal that receives one million visits each month.
They visited in April as part of their international book tour for The Artist as Culture Producer - Living and Sustaining a Creative Life.
Ms Louden told ArtsHub Toowoomba's cultural programing was richer than Melbourne's.
"Two powerful women bringing artists from outside Australia to cross-pollinate with the magical Toowoomba community combined with the fact they lost all of their funding meant I had to go," she said.
"We have just been so struck by Toowoomba and its energy."
Ms McLean said our community was so much richer for their visit.
"It was really insightful and reassuring to know that they wanted to come to Toowoomba," she said.
"It is empowering to know well-connected artists from New York notice what we are doing.
"Alexandra and I are just two women doing it on our own and it was really encouraging that Sharon reached out to us."
Ms McLean said she agreed that Toowoomba was thriving culturally.
"It is fantastic so many different things are happening around town which makes for a richer culture," she said.
"It is creating an inclusive community and empowering individuals by giving them a sense of belonging."