Connecting the Community through Hands On Workshops
The Artists on Parade Co-operative hosted 16 workshops which aimed to create a safe and inclusive space for community enjoyment, support and connection after the 2019/2020 bushfires. Community members participated in activities that were specifically chosen to increase relaxation and inspiration. The wide range of activities included pyrography, canvas work, cardmaking, sketching, bike maintenance, and pastel portrait painting, all of which included morning/afternoon tea break with cakes, coffee, and milkshakes (for the children) to encourage general discussion and bonding around the impacts and shared experiences of the fires.
This project strengthened the capacity of cultural organisations to work with and be led by the community. The gallery directors mapped the skills of known local artists and practitioners to identify those who could develop and lead workshops. Consultations with the project leaders, artistic facilitators and community members uncovered a prevalent anxiety surrounding the skill level required for participation in ‘traditional’ arts practices. As such, the program adapted to ‘craft-based’ activities so as to remove any barriers to participation. This has built a responsive and flexible network between communities and the Parade Co-Operative, building capacity for ongoing cultural activity and strengthened levels of trust for cultural organisations’ to listen to and facilitate community needs.
New connections were formed between community members which have transformed into lasting friendships. Since the project there has been increased demand for hands-on workshops from community members. Further projects since the initial program have included a writers workshop and motivational talks, music concerts and painting workshops.