Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Local NFPs invited to join online workshop to learn about FRRR’s new capacity building grant program for Taree and Wingham

FRRR is inviting local leaders of Taree and Wingham’s not-for-profits (NFPs) and community organisations to join in an online workshop on Thursday 14 October 2021 at 11:30am AEDT to learn about the Foundation’s new grassroots program, Investing in Not-for-Profit Capacity in Regional NSW (INFPC).

Investing in Taree and Wingham’s not-for-profits

The INFPC program, which is supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, is a 12-month place-based program providing NFPs in three bushfire-affected regions with a capacity boost for their vital work in their communities. The program is currently underway in the Bega Valley and Glen Innes Severn, with grants already awarded to support local organisations for a range of projects including strategic planning, training, and development of systems and processes.

Through the INFPC program, FRRR will support Taree and Wingham’s NFPs and community organisations to respond and thrive in the face of current challenges. The program will include access to grant funding, workshops, skill development and networking to help create local solutions to local issues.

The workshop will introduce the program and give local community leaders the opportunity to brainstorm their key priorities and interests and identify how INFPC can support them to address these.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that the program recognises the vital work of these grassroots organisations and community groups and intends to offer assistance that can add strength to the support and service they provide to the community.

“From speaking with these groups and their volunteers, we know that they are a passionate and resilient bunch. What is evident from our discussions though, is the toll that having to face successive disasters has had on their capacity to do their job,” Ms Egleton explained.

“Even before the flooding event earlier this year, local NFPs, many of which are run by volunteers, were experiencing fatigue, having already faced drought, bushfires, and COVID-19 restrictions. The need to rethink, reschedule or pivot projects to meet changing needs has added additional pressure to their ability to support their communities.

“We are grateful for their openness and willingness to share with us the very real challenges they are facing as well as their goals and aspirations for their organisations and community. We look forward to working with Taree and Wingham’s local leaders and to supporting them to develop local solutions to overcome their challenges,” Ms Egleton said.

Taree and Wingham workshop

WhoCommunity-based not-for-profit organisations in Taree and Wingham
WhenThursday 14 October from 11:30am to 1:30pm (AEDT)
WhereOnline workshop via Zoom – Link will be sent by email once you have registered.
HowRegister for the workshop here: http://bit.ly/FRRR-Taree

For more information about the Investing in Not-for-Profit Capacity in Regional NSW program visit –  https://frrr.org.au/investing-in-not-for-profit-capacity-nsw/.

In the historic town of Wingham, in the Manning River Valley on the NSW Mid-North Coast, Circatus offers classes in general circus skills, stilts and aerial skills. It might sound very niche for a rural town, but the program actually fills an important gap –the need for non-competitive and expressive arts opportunities for the community to engage with.

Circatus gives the community – mostly young people – access to diverse and vibrant circus and creative arts in an inclusive and nurturing environment. Since 2009 just one trainer, founder Jill Watkins ran the show, averaging 90 students and 17 classes a week. Local catchment communities include Hallidays Point, Bobin, Elands, Mount George, Taree and Landsdowne, all within 20-50 minutes drive, however there were some families who would travel from as far as 75kms away to attend.

Rethinking the model for sustainability

Originally operating as a sole trader business, by the end of a decade of operation it became clear that the organisations’ structure needed to be rethought. Circatus had built quite a little community through classes at its Wingham space, performance projects at community events, delivery of circus as a sports elective at Wingham High School, weekly scheduled classes for a third of the 100 families in the Manning Valley Community who home school their children, and wellbeing workshops for teenagers with disability, Aboriginal youth and children in out-of-home care. One supporter wrote that “While training students in the physical circus arts, [Jill] also facilitates life skills such as confidence building and teamwork.”

Jill brought together a passionate group of five committee members and 18 volunteers and Circatus entered a new model of operation as a NFP, opening the doors for the beginning of Term 3 2020 and operating five classes a week. But building capacity to deliver more classes was a priority. Circatus needed a group of trainers to make the program sustainable into the future. Most performing arts work is in metropolitan areas, so regional circus programs find it very difficult to attract circus artists to teach.

A grant to build capacity

The group successfully applied to the Small & Vital stream of Strengthening Rural Communities to help fund a ‘Train the Trainer’ program. This would provide weekly mentoring and coaching for ten volunteer trainers, supported by a weekend intensive session for aerial skills. The funding will also cover documentation of a teaching manual, supported by videography to be utilised by these 10 future Circatus teachers. As of February 2021, the project is underway and  there are six new trainers teaching a variety of circus skills to locals aged four years to adult.

What a win-win outcome! Trainer participants are supported to develop their leadership skills and an employment pathway, AND the general community has the opportunity to continue enjoying a vibrant and culturally enhancing experience, right on their doorstep. This circus can stay in town – watch this space for more great outcomes from this project!