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Artist in Residence program

Ann, who has 50 years of case management, advocacy, welfare experience and has hosted many International exchange students, is committed to help build a stronger education base for children and adolescence, a stronger community for families and a better environment for all to enjoy and live in.

Ann sees the Artists in Residence (AIR) Program as one way of realising this goal and has put her full support behind the program.

Ann then introduced Jenny who briefed us on the pilot program that she is working on in conjunction with Shoalhaven Council, Schools, BCI and Arts organisations in the region.

Jenny said that there is three people working on the pilot program Ann from BCI her and another lady Dr Lynda Kelly from the Arts Board of Shoalhaven City Council. Jenny apologised for Lynda who was unable to join them saying that she is recognised as one of the leading researchers and digital innovators in the cultural sector both in Australia and internationally.

Dr. Kelly, who lives and has a consulting business in the Southern Highlands, has been working in the evaluation and visitor research fields since 1994, the digital realm since 2007, and the museum industry since 1987. Dr. Kelly has a comprehensive knowledge of audiences, visitor and market research, museum learning, new media and digital technologies, with over 40 years’ experience working across Local, State and Federal government agencies, the NFP (Not-for-profit) sector and business.

Jenny, herself, has 40 years’ experience split over two periods 20 years as an Arts administrator including theatre management in the UK and Australia then 20 years in tertiary education with the University of Sydney in many areas including the School of Physics and supporting the indigenous students studying at the university. Following her retirement Jenny moved from Sydney to the Shoalhaven and enjoys her country living here. Lyn has continued her arts interests as a volunteer with the Bundanoon trust, secretary for refugee advocacy and enjoys drawing, mosaic work and playing Crochet.

Jenny said that the pilot project that she is talking about getting Governments at all levels to invest in the Artist in Residence program in regional and rural Primary schools. There are plenty of opportunities for primary school children in city areas to get exposure to the arts; however, students in regional and rural areas do not have these same avenues of learning. Children in these areas do not have easy access to theatres, art galleries, live music, libraries and cinemas.

There is much research from around the world demonstrating that the benefits of an Artist in Residence program for children including.

  • Advance creativity, communication, critical thinking and collaboration skills;
  • Boost development in areas such as literacy and numeracy;
  • Develop problem solving capacity, self-management, and leadership skills;
  • Increase school attendance and engagement with school;
  • Foster social and emotional well being;
  • Assist the development of teacher skills, and professional development;
  • Generally improve the culture of education environments; and
  • Strengthen cross cultural capacity, perseverance, civic engagement and make creative, supportive communities.

Jenny added that the results of Australian research projects on such programs have been reported at AJTE Vol39/Issue 6.  Jenny also suggested that we may wish to read the National Advocate for Art (NAAE) press release of 13May20 supporting artist-in-residence programs in schools.

Unfortunately, Jenny said that NSW is the only state in Australia that doesn’t have such a program and she hopes that this pilot program will correct this anomaly.

Jenny said that educationalists and politicians often talk about and enthusiastically promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. Rotary is well aware of this acronym as we often sponsor High School students to attend National Youth Science Forums (NYSF). The pilot team is striving to and the Arts to this acronym to make it STEAM.

To make the pilot program manageable, the small team has selected a few primary schools in the northern part of the Shoalhaven to become proactive in the program - Bomaderry, Cambewarra, Illaroo Rd and North Nowra primary Schools, plus the Bomaderry and North Nowra preschools that heard about the project and wanted to be part of it.

Jenny explained how the teachers, parents etc will select the arts and engage the artists that best fit their curriculum and school environment and the arts facilities that they may take the students to on excursions. Also, the broader community would be encouraged to assist with cheap materials if they were required to support the program.

In regards to funding, Jenny said that it is considered that each of the participating schools should be initially given $10,000 to pay for artists and some materials to 'kickstart' their program. This means that they will need around $70,000. Jenny said that the Department of Education has given $20,000.  To pay the program Jenny said that they have been given a grant of $20,000 from the Department of Education; the Shoalhaven City Council has set aside $20,000 on the condition that the raise the balance. They have an application into Create NSW, the States Arts funding body for $40,000. This means that with all funding applications being successful they will raise the required $70,000. However, at this point they haven’t got funding for a planning workshop that want to hold in early May. They are approaching other philanthropic organisation and would appreciate a letter of support from Rotary to add weight to their requests and promote the value of the program to other Rotary Clubs that may be in a position to support the program in some way.  Rotarian Ann Sudmalis, well versed in grant processes and funding sources, suggested a couple of organisations the pilot group could approach.

In closing Jenny said that as a testimony to the arts and its power to keep one fit and healthy, her mother has just turned 95, still lives at home and teaches piano to students every day.

President Jason thanks Jenny (left) and Ann (right) their interesting talk, on behalf of members and guests.   

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