Regional Engagement and Training
The VCA & MCM is committed to helping all Victorians engage with the arts. With special support from the Victorian Government though Creative Victoria, and in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria, we run training and engagement programs with regional artists, students and communities across Victoria.
Creativity knows no geographical boundaries and the desire to express ourselves through the arts is at home across Victoria. The VCA & MCM believe that all Victorians should have access to the best possible training and education in the visual, screen and performing arts. Below you will find details of recent projects we have undertaken in partnership with Victorian regional communities.
What’s Your Story? November – December 2014
This visual arts residency was delivered in partnership with the Shire of Buloke's Youth Services, with support from their Youth Advisory Council, BYAC.
The visual artist, Ngardarb (Francine) Riches, took on this community based residency in the Buloke Shire in north western Victoria. Ngardarb was based in the area for a month delivering workshops in Donald, Charlton, Sea Lake and Birchip. The residency provided opportunities for isolated regional youth to engage with indigenous art practices – both traditional and contemporary.
Ngardarb has been a practising visual artist for nearly thirty years. She is a Bardi/Jawi and Karijarri woman from the West Kimberley Coast; known as ‘salt water people’. Whilst she had no formal arts training, in the last two years, Ngardarb has undertaken a Master in Fine Arts (Visual Art) at the VCA, which she cites as one of the highlights of her artistic career which has taken her around Australia and overseas, with paintings acquired by visitors from various places.
FR!SK – Festival of New Work, November 2014
FR!SK was a ground breaking program of new theatre works created by the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre Practice) graduating class of 2014. FR!SK presented new and original work, operating across genres and forms and innovatively addressing issues of the next generation of leading artists and the next generation of theatre and arts audiences.
The entire cohort of students travelled to Natimuk (25km west of Horsham in western Victoria) and Benalla north-eastern Victoria) and were hosted in each town by a key arts organisations and / or arts workers with long term and strong connections to the VCA. The principle outcomes included a five day in community residency, workshop and master class program and performances; culminating in a community celebration.
Under the guidance of Undergraduate Coordinator of Theatre Robert Walton, the project offered an enhanced training experience for the students combining and building upon skills and work developed within their studies and applied to their initial transition beyond their studies into the professions - a critical period in an artist’s life. FR!SK was designed to specifically address the completing of tertiary study and the entering of the profession with solid, real world skills gained from participating in a festival and tour. Students gained experience by developing and presenting their work in varied professional regional contexts, in addition to building networks and professional relationships with future employers. A number of FR!SK members have already been offered follow on work in both communities in 2015.
Wangaratta Jazz Festival, October - November 2014
Through a partnership between the VCA’s School of Contemporary Music, Wangaratta Jazz Festival and their affiliated music based youth outreach program – Dookie Band Camp, a series of skills-based music workshops were delivered to secondary schools students from across the north-eastern region of Victoria. Including but not limited to: Euroa, Wangaratta, Albury-Wodonga and Benalla. Additionally, Latin percussion community workshops were delivered during the jazz festival. Wangaratta Jazz Festival also provided performance opportunities for VCA students and alumni, as part of the ‘Next Generation’ program.
TWIG – Art & Agriculture, August - September 2014
TWIG was a residency developed in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria in the Swan Hill region and delivered with the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery. The VCA employed two of their recent graduate visual artists to take on a 10-day farm based residency in the Mallee region in the north-west of the state.
The artists, Fred Fowler and Carrie McGrath, both graduated in 2012 from the VCA’s School of Art. Fred held his most recent, sell-out solo exhibition ‘New Landscapes’ at the Backwoods Gallery, Melbourne. His work is also held in the National Gallery of Australia collection. Carrie has had a number of solo and group exhibitions. In 2011 she undertook a residency in New York with Robert Wilson’s Watermill Centre and in 2013 was the recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts, ArtStart grant.
During their time on their respective farms, Carrie and Fred ran workshops for young people in the region, as well as developing their own response to their time on the property, culminating in a TWIG event on the farm. This event, incorporating a bonfire and BBQ, brings together the broader farming community to participate in an arts program on the residency farm. The artists worked with their host farming families to create an informal event that incorporated a showing of the artwork/s by the artists [and farmer] created during the residency.
fear&love&clowns - September 2014
fear&love is a theatre company created by 2013 graduate actors from the VCA: Chelsea Zeller, Emil Freund, Michael Gosden, Alistair Frearson and Tristan Barr. The artists created the show fear&love&clowns whilst in their second year of training at the VCA and since then have toured the show to the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival and then developed it for a sell -out season at Malthouse Tower Theatre.
The project fear&love&clowns was a series of hands-on acting and performance based workshops in three regional communities in north-west Victoria (Kerang, Robinvale and Swan Hill). Workshop participants were encouraged to ‘find their clown’, a unique playful being that exists inside everyone. The work forced them to challenge themselves, work creatively as an individual and in groups, all the while building confidence in their ability to perform and create a character. The process of finding their own clowns empowered each participant to work in an ensemble and devise their own short piece that could be included in the performance of fear&love&clowns for the wider community.
Digital Shakespeare – July 2014
Digital Shakespeare (Stratford) focused on creating six short films to promote and encourage interest in the Shakespeare on the River Festival, outside of theatrical realms. Its aim was create a fresh and inventive feel for the Shakespeare Festival and to generate interest throughout the year. Neil Triffett, a film and television alumni, was based in Stratford for three weeks completing the residency in the mid-year school holidays.
Neil mentored local young adults and filmmakers through the process making of films, improving their technical and storytelling ability. The workshops offered the group Shakespearean works as stimulation and encouraged them to respond with their own stories and ideas, all the while asking where such stories are relevant in their own lives. Neil assisted the filmmakers in navigating through making their works attractive and palatable to an audience and shaped their stories to have high artistic and story-telling values.
From the Shakespeare Festival Committee’s perspective, the films fulfilled a desire to diversify their program and add an extra element that might attract community members not normally interested in the Festival. The screening night indicated this should work: there was a packed house of over one hundred people for our films, a fantastic effort for a community of Stratford’s size.
We Art Corangamite, April - June 2014
‘We Art Corangamite’ was Theatre graduate Renae Shadler’s contribution to the 3rd annual Robert Burns Scottish Festival. It was a site-specific tour of art events created by and for the Corangamite community.
The project celebrated the diversity of art practices in the region and Camperdown’s rich Scottish Heritage. As VCA Artist in Residence at the Festival, Renae spent 4-weeks in Camperdown delivering workshops with community groups, local artists and primary school children. During the creation of the project, participants were encouraged to explore site-specific performance, intimate audiences, multi-disciplinary practice, audience interaction and contemporary storytelling.
In addition to the project, Renae ran a series of Identity Tartan workshops in local primary schools. Over the workshops 285 students created A3 tartan posters to reflect their identity. These artworks were presented as colourful bunting on the main street of Camperdown throughout the festival.
Lorne Sculpture Biennale, March 2014
Wilin Centre & Short Black Opera’s, Regional Engagement & Training Project Portland Reengagement May 2013
The Wilin Centre and the Short Black Opera Company visited Portland, Victoria to conduct Music and Performance workshops with local Indigenous children from the region. The Wilin Centre’s community engagement program is not just about working with children, but also designed to make lasting connections within the region as a whole. Meetings with the Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation in the nearby town of Heywood, and the local council’s Indigenous advisory group were also held.The program culminated with a final pubic rehearsal in which parents, friends and family members were given the opportunity to observe the process that the students had been a part of. The children who participated in Wilin and SBO’s workshops were also given the opportunity to travel to Melbourne in August 2013 to participate in the Wilin Centre’s major choral conference Dhungala Choral Connection, held at the VCA and Federation Square.
The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and The Smith Family: Engaging Regional Communities with Music
Voices of Geelong
Delivered by the Centre of Cultural Partnerships, ‘Voices of Geelong’ aims to demonstrate the value & impact of community-based arts practice addressing public policy areas of regional development, immigration & settlement. The project focuses on recently arrived refugee communities from Burma and the Karen & Kareni communities, Afghani, Liberian and Sudanese youth.
Three: Engaging Victoria’s Communities with Meaningful Sound
Residency at Upwelling Festival, Portland
Vincent Giles, currently studying a Master of Fine Arts (Production) at the VCA, presented a sound installation Heard/Unheard: Flux on the foreshore in Portland as part of the Upwelling Festival. He tells us about his experience on the VCA Blog.
Film and TV: Rural Animation
This project aims to introduce young people in regional centres to animation as a viable form of expression and creativity while providing recent VCA graduates with the opportunity to develop important educational experience and skills.
Let Me Count the Ways
A web based documentary art project in which people from all over regional Victoria can document and share what they love about where they live and what they do. This may be activities, objects, people, memories and so on. All participating communities will develop an idiosyncratic and local history that can be shared via the web. This history will also be shared with other participating communities, demonstrating synergies and divergences.
VCA & GRADA Winter School Program - Benalla
VCA Performing Arts in partnership with GOTAFE Regional Academy of Dramatic Arts (GRADA) ran a successful three-day winter acting workshop in Benalla in July 2012. Ninety-five people from across central and north-eastern Victoria including Benalla, Mansfield, Wangaratta, Bendigo, Myrtelford Shepparton and Ararat worked intensively with staff and recent graduates from the VCA. Participants elected to join one of four streamed programs designed for beginners or drama teachers looking to gain professional development.
Music making in Victoria's fire-affected region
The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music has partnered with secondary schools in the areas of Victoria affected by bushfire to provide the opportunity for music students to work with some of Melbourne's renowned music educators. Six recent MCM graduates worked with woodwind and brass ensembles at schools in Alexandra, Healesville and Whittlesea, to support and enhance existing music teaching. At the end of the term, the students from the Whittlesea Secondary College Concert Band, Alexandra Secondary College Concert Band, and Clarinet and Saxophone ensembles from Healesville High School, performed alongside the University of Melbourne’s Wind Symphony and the Royal Australian Navy Band for a concert at the University’s Melba Hall in September 2012.
Future Now, The Substation
The Substation Art and Culture Centre in Newport hosts an annual exhibition featuring the most exciting new work by recent honours graduates from VCA Art. Thanks to a partnership between VCA & MCM and The Substation, the current exhibition of work by eight graduates from the 2011 honours class is visiting three Victorian regional centres. The Future Now 2013 exhibition along with a suite of workshops and artist talks will also visit selected Victorian regional centres in winter and spring 2013.
Future Now Catalogue (pdf file, 3MB)
Percussion Tours - Western district schools
A series of workshops and performances in four schools/districts in the Western District of Victoria: Geelong, Colac, Warrnambool and Portland. Alumni ensemble Speak Percussion presented a high impact program of music, spanning works from concert hall pieces to underground club music. Students from each of the four school districts were invited to take part in an afternoon of workshops, performances and discussion about the works, techniques and aesthetics involved. Four schools were chosen as “host schools” for each region, and then invited other local schools to attend the workshops and performance presentations. This was designed as a precursor and “teaser” for further activities and involvement with the MCM New Music Studio in 2013.