The latest round of Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) projects have begun coming to fruition, promoting the role and value of arts, culture and heritage as important factors for inclusive communities and strong regions.
One of the recent RADF recipients is the Common Ground Arts Program, run by Community Gro at the Garbutt Community Centre. The program offers locals the chance to work alongside prominent North Queensland artists to learn traditional and contemporary cultural art styles.
Artist and Coordinator Bernadette Boscacci said the project wasn’t just targeting those with existing skills, but aimed to educate the community on techniques that are being forgotten over time.
“Trying to create anything solo isn’t conducive to good holistic community development, so these workshops are building relationships, sharing skills, and helping to develop our own local community and economy; making it more sustainable,” Bernadette said.
“There’s been so many [people of] different skill levels dropping in to these workshops over the weeks and all have been willing to share their own work and skills, which is great because a lot of the techniques aren’t widely known by younger people in the community.
“It’s also been great for starting conversations. In the first few weeks of workshops we had Pandanus leaf weaving and the people involved were talking about connections and community-growing – and from there, they began asking if we could look at starting a natural resource garden at the Community Centre. That’s something we were able to bring up with Amanda, the Manager here, who has been happy to work towards starting a bush garden nursery with natural bush medicines and resources useful for weaving and other activities here.”
The 12-week program, Common Ground, enlisted the help of six Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, with many already hoping the program continues.
“As artists or community workers, we can’t afford to always just put these on for free without support – and I definitely don’t have anything against paid workshops run around Townsville because artists need to be paid. Thankfully with this one, RADF allowed us to be reimbursed for our time while making the program free and more accessible to the community.”
Workshop participant Michelle said the program had brought her out of her shell and taught her techniques she would pass on to her children.
“These workshops at the Community Centre are a safe space – I’m very shy and still have questions about my identity, so don’t go out much,” Michelle said.
“Art is definitely something that invites you in, breaks down barriers, and helps us network and grow. I’m starting my own business but have been frightened of whatever I don’t know and if there’s skills I need but don’t have, but have a lot more confidence now.
“I never knew how to weave either. Mum learnt it when she was growing up, but because she had to move away from her culture she didn’t pass those skills on to me. I’m so happy that I’m learning it now and will have this knowledge to pass on to my own children.”
The Common Ground Arts Program wraps up on 6 September. For future workshops and events, follow the Garbutt Community Centre on Facebook.