Small Town Transformations Grant meeting
Arts Hub 26 November 2015.

The meeting was called to develop initial ideas for a Small Town Transformations grant. These grants are for Victorian towns with fewer than 2000 people and are designed to support artistic projects that are:

  • connected to community and place
  • that are collaborative and
  • that will create a legacy
  • enjoyable over time

The maximum grant is $350,000 over 3 years and it is highly competitive. Our expression of interest is due in at the end of February, and if shortlisted, a detailed proposal is due in April. A significant part of the grant is to pay artists.

We discussed what sort of project would be good for the Newstead community. Here are the criteria we discussed:
1. Equally benefiting artists and community – artists are community members too
2. Be unique, not simply replicating what other communities in the region are doing
3. Leave something tangible after the three years, that is an ongoing physical reminder of our efforts as a community
4. Interpret the arts emphasis broadly – many forms of art: performance, story telling, culture and painting, potting and playfulness
5. Inspirational and beautiful and lead into further community activities after the three years
6. Be implemented in clearly defined 3 or 4 stages

Who came?
There were 14 people there: (with 6 apologies)
Prue MacAdam , Julie Patey, Chris Johnston, Jan Denton, Graham Denton, Sarah Koschak, Andrew Skeoch, Phillip McDonald, David Farrington, Don Culvenor, Geoff Park, Mary Caspar, Roger McKindlay, Ann Berg.

What ideas were proposed?
The following ideas came from previous meetings of people from the Newstead Arts community:

Arts Studio – Workshop
The development of an Arts Studio Workshop where skills between artists could be shared, artistic skills further developed and the community have equal access. It’s a place where arts gets made, resources and equipment are shared, teaching and learning happens. Use the Good’s Shed for this purpose – and tap into VicTrack money again?

Arts Town?
Clunes is a BookTown – can Newstead be an ArtsTown? What would it mean to be an arts town?

Art around town
More art – public art:
• Maze
• Arts trail – along the river? an arts river bridge?
• projections
• painting on buildings

Performance
• create an outdoor performance space and/or:
• a fully functional theatre space and screen production
• digital editing – music, film etc
• film-making
• showcasing local performance – musicians, theatre etc

Sculpture Park opposite the Arts Hub
Would this work with the RSL park and its purposes?

River Art
Mend the flood levee bank and turn it into a feature of sculptures, mosaics, maybe including an Art Walk, incorporating the River and the landscape around and within Newstead. Connects to river restoration plantings and other river projects

Rotunda Park
A rotunda with a beautifully winding wheelchair access ramp? Or a very modern SoundShell Theatre space. Does it fit with history/Historical Society? Theatre in the Newstead Community Centre is under-utilised. Perhaps theatre events focused here to increase its viability?

Newstead Live & other Festivals
Incorporating Art Events/festival into the Newstead Live Festival. Expand the Short Story Tattoo into a Festival of Ideas and Art Practice Inspiration (link into Words in Winter, Chopped etc)

A street trees project?
Mount Alexander Shire are in the process of developing a street trees strategy for MAS towns … could we create an idea around this?

A number of extra ideas were added, then we worked in small groups to identify extra ideas and then group them together.

Arts Hub ideas
• To develop the railway building footprint to enhance the landscape with dry land australian garden, add signage to the entrance and the transform the “goods shed” as a theatrical place both outside and inside the building.
• To have sculptures which would be in/ around the garden but also have interactive parts for children to “play” with, using sound and movement.
• To have a “Projection Art ” festival depicting history and culture of Newstead in the form of projections of digital photos on the goods shed wall.(The Screen)
• To have a carriage or couple of carriages parked on the rail to create visual interest, and practically make the platform safe and link station to goods shed.
• Create a vertical garden on the brick wall to make attractive.
• Connect the Railway Station with an “art trail” from the Railway garden across to the river with a path with sculptural presence.

River ideas
• River Art (as above)
• Pathway/arts trails from Newstead village to Arts Hub and Park – masks, colour, footprints, painters
• Telling the story of the river – past, present, Dja Dja Wurrung, historical society, arts trail
• Health of the river – trees, stories, powerful owl nesting, other creatures, punt
• Interpretive signage
• River bridge – suspension bridge, sculptural – a folly
• Ephemeral art and sculptures

Earth Ship/Studio/Arts School ideas
• Arts Studio/workspace (as above)
• Workspace – involve children, open access
• Arts school…
• Earth Ship ….

History-related ideas
• Incorporate / publish historical archives
• Historical walk around time – the buildings as the focus – with creative interpretation- light boxes illuminating past streets apes
• Historical transition – demonstrate past and ongoing traditions/transformations through specific place such as the courthouse – develop the grounds, dramatised performance in courthouse, schools theatre in education
• Oral history stories e.g. Janet Barker’s farmers project – create intervene rational experiences through oral history recording

Performance ideas
• Sound performance space at Footy oval
• Create and nurture theatre/performance activities
• Event in the park opposite Arts Hub – ‘spiegeltent’
Other ideas
• Arts Map
• Sculpture Park
• Sensory Gardens
• Outdoor art – pavement art, murals, mosaic seats
• Non-artists working with artists to create their vision- perhaps an art competition where an artist is commissioned to bring a non-artists vision to life.

Some ideas were about process or bigger concepts
• Our town as ‘arts town’
• Including as products – a thing, an event, a collaboration
• Inviting visiting artists to hold workshops or talks in town
• Process not product – arts and science working together to tackle big problems

Getting down to details?
Everyone was invited to choose the idea or ideas they felt most inspired by and work with any others who were interested in the same idea/s. Three ideas were focused on:

  1. Arts Hub
  2. River
  3. Earthship/Arts school, including the idea of shared studio space/s

Each group documented the idea, identified strength and weaknesses, who would benefit and what the long-term legacy would be for the Newstead community. The ideas developed were presented back to the whole group. Through discussion, we recognised that there were links between these three ideas and with some of the other ideas that hadn’t been picked up.

Next steps
Each of the three groups, (Arts Hub, River and Earthship/Arts School/workshops), will meet in the next two weeks, develop the ideas further and bring them back to the next meeting on Wednesday 9 December, 7pm at the Arts Hub.

For further information: Andrew Skeoch e: listen@netcon.net.au or m: 0419 091 979

 

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