HATs Inc

An Arts Success Story

HATs - A Multi- Award Winning Organisation


HATs incredible contribution to regional development through the Arts

was recognised when they received four Awards in late 2013-14: 


  • Australia Day (State Award) for Clare Valley Carnival Of Music 2013

  • Australia Day (Regional award ) for Clare Valley carnival of Music 2013

  • State Award “Prime Super Community Group" of the year 2013 

  • State Ruby Arts Award  Best contribution to the Arts 2013


Those awards have been important in raising the profile of HATs and its program and projects.  It is seldom that a small Arts organisation can receive such recognition so quickly unless they are doing something exactly right. 


In 2014 HATs continued to grow with an increase in income of 75%. HATs  presented 28 unique events which were attended by 4,500 people. In 2014  45 volunteers engaged with HATs delivering over 3,500 hrs of skilled support. HATs presented 150 performers on stage at our events and 55% of our income went towards the payment of performers. HATs was successful in attracting small but important funding from a number of different sources, mainly non-arts areas. 


HATs is committed to developing projects that also have a state-wide impact and is currently developing an Adelaide Songs project for the 2015 SA History Festival which will be launched in Adelaide and delivering  a Multicultural music project in Port Adelaide.


HATs believes strongly in the transforming nature of the Arts and its ability to bring people together. Having a cultural focal point/place is important if we want regional  communities to be creative places to live and grow up in.  


A healthy arts scene makes the Clare Valley a better place to live  and visit, gives it a creative identity and connects it to the world.  HATs has already seen its activities contribute to regional development, community well being, tourism visitation, local business and community development.  


Having HATs based in the Clare Valley has seen the arts attract funding for community projects and build audiences.

The Arts is far more than Arts!

HATs Inc - An Arts Success Story


This story is about how the Arts can support the re-vitalisation of an SA regional area by establishing a permanent  based performing arts centre in a heritage precinct and implementing a new, exciting and lower cost model for delivering arts into regional areas. HATs Inc launched itself in January 2011 and in four short years has captured the imagination of many people, collected a number of important awards and most importantly establishing itself firmly in the bedrock of the community at the same time giving the arts a focal identity that has been missing in the Clare Valley region.

The Clare Valley, one of  SA’s premier wine regions


The Clare Valley, (130kms from Adelaide) a significant Australian wine region does not have a funded regional performing arts centre and gallery and it would be fair to say that coordinated arts/ cultural activity has been at a low level over many decades. Despite a community interest, the region has received no direct organisation or infrastructural support to give it the means to coordinate a program of arts/cultural activity.


In late 2010 a small group of interested people living in Clare Valley and Adelaide took on the lease of the historic Auburn Courthouse (a National Trust building) with a view to presenting some arts events and possibly turning the venue into an arts cafe. This group had previously worked together on a number of arts/music festivals and had a range of skills in arts/events and business management. They formed a new arts organisation to be based at the Auburn Courthouse and mapped out a plan to develop a small arts centre for the region.  The company was named HATs (Heritage Arts &Traditions) to celebrate the new home base in Auburn’s historic precinct.


HATs first significant achievement has been in putting an important heritage building to a new use as an arts centre. Many beautiful buildings and halls are neglected or underused in regional SA and HATs realised this was an important place to create an arts centre. The task was considerable as the organisation had to establish the venue, make community connections,  create a new program of events, market these in order to build an audience and develop a totally new kind of arts organisation suited to the Clare Valley.  HATs brought in sound/lights/office equipment, chairs, tables, bar  and kitchen equipment.HATs achieved this without funding and with just a small personal investment by the founding organisation members to create a starting capital. In doing so they created a new model for delivering the arts epecially into regional areas.

"Changing the face of the Clare Valley, SA" 
Clare & Gilbert Valley Councillor
The First Four Years


How has this new model worked out in practice? Well it has seen HATs build an arts identity both in the Clare Valley and in the wider SA Arts scene. This historic Courthouse venue has been an inspirational place for HATs to establish itself. The Arts Centre comprises a small performance hall (100 seater) with in-house sound, lights and projection. Facilities include a Bar & Kitchen, Office Space, Courtyard, Storeroom. HATs has installed cabaret seats and tables, and maintained an arts/heritage form of decor that captivates visitors & audiences. In four years HATs has built up a solid audience base for its Program of events that cover music, cabaret, theatre, puppetry, poetry, and community events. For its music festival HATs also uses its outdoor areas and local venues to be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people. 


The town of Auburn is the gateway to the Clare Valley (110kms from Adelaide) and has a delightful heritage  atmosphere. The sheer number and range of events that HATs has presented as a new (and unfunded) regional arts organisations is simply staggering. Over 130  individual concerts have been presented, featuring diverse acts/shows from overseas, national and statewide.  HATs links into touring circuits to be able to do this. HATs has then toured some of these acts into local schools, libraries and RSL clubs adding another 40 performances to this list.  On top of this HATs s has run Music Camps at nearby Bungaree Station and established an annual Music Festival (The Clare Valley Carnival of Music) now acclaimed as one of SA’s boutique music gems. 


The Carnival is a two day event featuring up to 20 acts and celebrates the Clare Valley’s early Irish connections as well as following the theme of ‘Bringing the World to the Clare Valley”. HATs has involved local acts along with community where possible and now incorporates a regional visual arts market, schools projects, features a community choir along with local acts. Participatory workshops are a feature at the Courthouse encouraging participation in music and other varied art forms.


The HATs Board  is supported by around 45 local and city based volunteers who help set up the venue, assist with promotion, encourage local participation and networking as well as offering hands on support at events with tasks such as Box Office, Bar and Kitchen. Like any arts organisation HATs relationship with its audience is critical and a lot of work has been spent slowly building this audience. (People come from up to 150 kms away to see shows  ie Burra, Pt Pirie, Peterborough, Barossa as well as from Clare Valley  towns. Larger events also attract audiences from Adelaide as well as attendances by tourists passing through the region.


HATs has its own website, faceook page and puts out a monthly newsletter. It is supporter based rather than membership based. HATs does not charge a membership fee of any kind. HATs feels that it has been able to communicate its vision for the arts and that this is gradually being embraced by the regional community.


One additional aspect is that the Courthouse Cultural Centre has become a valuable community asset that is available for a range of community uses such as meetings, seminars, workshops and fundraising activities. HATs makes the venue available to the community.

Resourcing and Building and Arts Organisation


HATs has built up a range of partners, small sponsors and business supporters who offer donations and in-kind support. HATs has developed a funding plan to support the resourcing of the organisation and its program and in 2014 received funding from the Clare and Gilbert Council, Clare Valley Tourism and Business Association, The Adelaide City Council, Port Adelaide & Enfield Council, APRA/AMCOS and The Fund for Rural and Regional Communities. 

A New Model for Regional Arts


How does this new model work? There are a number of key elements to how HATs has worked that may be useful for other communities and funding bodies to consider.


A vision and plan:

HATs cannot be everything in the arts to the region so its initial aims were to establish a home base where regular, accessible, small scale arts performances could take place. Rather than establish a large arts centre, HATs realised that the region can be supported by a small venue with regular events (20-25 per year) in order to build an identity and awareness of the arts.


Entrepreneural & self sufficient:

Rather than relying on funding HATs has used a semi-entrepreneural approach, generating income through  box office, food and drink, fundraising, using volunteer support, social media marketing. As it builds its portfolio and profile HATs is now also achieving some success with funding from a range of sources.


Careful Programming/ Low risk Program/ Networking. HATs has been careful about what it programs and avoids making losses on shows. Small is beautiful. Because of HATs connections they have been able to link into national and international touring acts and bring a wide range of music, cabaret,  puppetry, theatre, workshops & special events. From interstate and overseas. We have been able to ‘Bring the world to the Clare Valley’. Performances celebrate traditions, cultural diversity and also performances that excite and challenge. HATs has endeavoured to make its program accessible and not elitist, ensuring that people engaged closely with artists in an intimate and open environment.


Building a Community Base:

HATs has slowly built up its arts assets and equipment and at the same time built a regional network of 

supporters, audiences, sponsors, networks and partners. This takes time but is important to be part of the community. HATs  has taken 

time to build partnerships with  the National Trust (SA) regional businesses, arts groups, tourism operators, media, community 

organisations, councils and key identities. HATs has embedded itself in the mainstream community life of the region.


Skills Base:

HATs has a core of people with a range of skills necessary to run and develop a small arts centre and program of events on a professional level. The organisation is self sufficient in terms of admin/marketing/programming/development/technical/business & finance. 

Volunteer support and utilisation and building of local people’s skills is important. HATs is able to operate without the expense of having to employ full time arts administrators or specialists from outside. HATs seeks however to employ its own staff as its builds.


Value of building Community:

Most importantly the HATs events program has brought people together to experience events, participate 

and socialise, building a stronger sense of community and making the Clare Valley a better place to live and visit. Local people are quick 

to realise this important aspect of HATs work.


Home Base & Identity:

Having a home base  at the Auburn Courthouse has given HATs a recognisable location to build an identity, but also to create new work, tour artists ,manage events, present workshops &  engage in community cultural development.


Breaking down barriers:

HATs believes in breaking down the barriers and distinctions between Community & Professional Arts, Performer & Audience, Arts & Non Arts and between Age groups.


The Future


HATs believes that we represent a revitalised new model to deliver the arts to regional areas. It is a community based/low cost/low risk model that could be integrated with existing models to develop regional performance & presentation, touring for arts, building opportunities for artists as well as invigorating the community and supporting growing service/tourism and business industries. We welcome a dialogue with State & Federal funding bodies on the implementation of this model and the benefits it could bring to regional South Australia.


It is important that Arts as well as Tourism, Business and Regional development recognise this model. HATs has shown over four years that this model can really work and as such should be supported to build this further. HATs has shown that  you can develop a thriving arts scene in an area that has been neglected and unresourced for decades.


HATs aspires to building a stronger arts program and build its organisational base to support regional and state-wide arts and is as 

deserving as any organisation in terms of receipt of funding. HATs has shown there is a need and a place in the Clare Valley for a regional arts centre that can service the broader Mid North region.