Cowell Silo art project

Community stories: 17 December 2019

This year, the Franklin Harbour district in South Australia has seen the lowest rainfall recorded on history. The District Council of Franklin Harbour have estimated around 99 farming families have sought off-farm employment due to significantly depleted farm income. With less income in the farming community, the flow on effect is being felt across local businesses and services. The Franklin Harbour Community Development Group recognised the need to diversify their economy in the district, to build community resilience, and local tourism is a market they sought to expand.

They took inspiration from neighbouring communities, Kimba and Tumby Bay, who commissioned murals on their local silos and saw significant economic benefit. The Paint Cowell’s Silo project was created with the aim to attract more tourists, both day trippers and overnight visitors – increasing spend across the town and enabling the businesses to survive and retain staff.

The $14,237 in grant funds went towards commissioning the Australian artist – NITSUA, to create the mural including the costs of the paint and hire of a boom. NITSUA, Austin Moncrieff, visited the community in 2017 to consult with the community and gather themes and ideas for the design which he combined with his own inspiration from some of the town’s iconic characters.

The outcomes this project has achieved is far beyond what the group could have ever imagined, including receiving the People’s Choice Award in the Regional Category of the Australian Civic Trust Awards.

The number of visitors drawn to the town was more than anticipated – during the painting period, which was the month of August 2019, there was an increase of 4.43 percent visitor spend compared to the same period in the previous year. The artwork is part of the Australian Silo Art Trail which has a large social media following with many postings of the Cowell silo artwork to this group. The Cowell silo project has also featured in both local, State and on national media including the TV news program The Project. 

The Franklin Harbour Community Development Group has now left a legacy to Cowell which will see economic and social benefits for years to come.

Dee Cook President of FHCDG explained that the project would have still gone ahead without the grant however we would still be fundraising – maybe for another 5 years!

“Receiving grants like this takes the pressure off the local businesses and community by not asking them to put their hand in their pocket time and time again – especially in a drought.”