Case studies

Dress the Central West

Blackall, Barcaldine, Winton and Longreach

Dress the Central West has been a collaborative journey that has inspired, engaged, encouraged and empowered local people within the communities of Central West Queensland to find ‘Beauty within the Drought’. The Gala has showcased regional designers, models, dancers, avant-garde makeup artists, and local hair stylists in a collective production over multiple locations.

This project was created through a collaboration between regional health service providers, and new networks between the Winton Neighbourhood Centre,  Central West Suicide Network,  Blackall-Tambo Neighbourhood Centre,  Longreach Art and Craft Centre,  Flying Doctor Service,  Central West Health and Hospital Service, Central West Aboriginal Corporation and Red Ridge.

This project was created by and for First Nations communities, in collaboration with external service providers.

The project used art activities as a fun and exciting approach for healing and coping with the effects of long-term drought. The project’s theme ‘beauty within the drought’ encouraged kind-hearted and colourful reflections on life throughout the drought.

Across the four regions, Blackall hosted creative textiles workshops to create wearable art for the showcases, Barcaldine explored themes about respect for each other and care of land through an Aboriginal dream time story about ‘Moon Sun and Eclipse’, Winton focused on a youth program to inspire confidence and leadership, and Longreach came together to share cultural stories about the land and languages with colourful reflections of the land through drought and through flood.

Thirty-three garments were created and presented at 3 separate performances and public showcases. Showcases successfully collaborated with a community dance group who performed a choreographed dance alongside the catwalk models.

The project included make-up workshops held in Barcaldine which formed a team of 10 makeup artists who led the makeup artistry for all three performances. Hundreds of attendants were blown away by the professionalism and talent of the local community.

By bringing service providers together in a collaborative environment, this project connected local strengths and resources, and has built capacity for local decision making. The scale of this project was unprecedented. Project facilitators successfully collaborated to secure further funding and resources to elevate the community’s passion and opportunities to grow. Government bodies were led by community members. This created a unique and light-hearted sense of community, with the mayor of one district described as “a roadie” for the project. This project has increased the value of community voices within local project management.

This project transformed understanding of the arts and cultural industries and what they can do for people. There was a strong focus on developing new skills through performance, art making and all elements of event production including props, videography, music, movement, management, logistics and design. This provided many opportunities for mentored participation and has seen participants enter pathways for recreational and professional participation in the arts industry and beyond.


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