Connecting creatives during COVID

Community stories: 28 May 2021

While the Black Saturday bushfires were now more than a decide ago, the effects are still being felt in the Victorian communities that were impacted. One such place was Kinglake, and over the years, it’s been proven that the arts and culture plays a critical role in ongoing recovery, helping people to process their experiences, but also bridge the social isolation that has come from the significant population change that occurred in the years after the fire. Since 2018, Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House (KRNH) has partnered with Regional Arts Victoria (RAV) to fund a part-time Arts Coordinator.

Their role has been to work closely with local art groups, and bring them together and collaborate on projects. There has also been a focus on strategic planning and increasing governance skills within various groups. The position has really made great inroads into the art and cultural community, which felt supported, heard and empowered. However, funding for the role was due to expire. RAV applied to the VBAF-funded Grants for Resilience and Wellness program to extend the role for another year, with a specific focus on three priorities identified through community consultation.

This included identifying a space for the display of arts and culture in the Murrindindi Shire, strengthening connections and collaborations between community groups and surround arts organisations, and working with the Taungurang Clan to embed Indigenous culture across the region. With the support of a $40,000 FRRR grant, the role was extended for another 12 months. While it was intended to be an on-the-ground, community based position, COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 meant most of the work was done remotely.

This prevented there from being as much progress on some of the big projects identified as priorities, however a rich variety of other activity took place and the Coordinator played a key role in meeting the needs and demands of the community during a tumultuous year. In acquitting the grant, RAV reported that the biggest achievement during this time was being able to bring the arts community together in meaningful and effective ways, including connecting local artists to creatives outside Kinglake.

The Coordinator made great inroads in connecting RAV to the community as well to the Murrindindi Shire Council, KRNH and FRRR. There was also good progress in connecting the Taungurang Clan and the Kinglake community and this will continue to be nurtured.