Some of the projects Culture Bank has made possible:
Northern Illawarra Residents Action, Aboriginal Tent Embassy Concert, Exposure Arts and Media,
Austinmer Dance Theatre, Night Eats Day, Wollongong Writers Festival, Solidarity Illawarra Aboriginal, Illawarra Folk Festival, Jobs for Women, South Coast Writers Centre Inc., Jam n Bread, Rentell Anne-Louise, Warrawong Residents Forum Inc, Jennifer Macey Podcast Producer Journal, Queer & Now, N.R, Ozolins & A.J Pike, Love: Art, Ideas, M & P, The Story Line Pty Ltd, Short + Sweet Illawarra, Exuberant Elders, Vaudevillawarra Illawarra, Screen Illawarra for a Festival of Film, Magic Mountains, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”, Iso-Liloquize, The Purple Turtle, The Sketchy Sisters, Tasmin Witkamp, Enough Said Poetry Slam, Dumadjirii Arts Mogo, Pecha Kucha/MAP, Tender Cloth Project, Lexicon Innovations, Notes From Home Podcast, Welcome to the A to Z of Wollongong Podcast, Fault/Lines
HONK! Oz Festival of Street Music (twice), A Mile in My Shoes, The OmniBus Poetry Project, Ali Jane Smith
Pride Tide, We Are Conjola, Where Lies Beauty Project, Fabled Feasts, Woman of Steel, All-Female Shakespeare, Misty Escarpment, Urban Biodiversity Illawarra, Elsie and the Bird, Parallel Lives, Never Heard of Them Anthology, A Practical Guide to Self-Defence, Jacuzzi Workshop, Cortex Journal, Le Femme Fatales, Strawberry Boogie, Stella Prize, Wombarra Sculpture Workshop, Studio 19, SPATE 13, Village Variety Revue, Wollongong Writers Festival (WWF), Film-based street installations/Joshua Wiffen, Mel Wishart attending HONK! (activist street music) festivals in Somerville, Boston, Yours and Owls Music, and Arts Festival & Local record label launch
What are the kinds of projects that Culture Bank members choose to support?
There have been so many projects funded by Culture Bank (too many to list here), but we started with our first round in August 2013. After much lively discussion and debate, members opted to support art tours offered by Studio 19, SPATE 13, and a unique project curated by the Austinmer Dance Theatre.
Culture Bank is not a large entity. We have the resources and funds to support small grants, often supporting “seedling” projects – which grow and develop into bigger things. Most of the projects funded sit around the $2000 – $3000 mark (and obviously $$ $’s below). We like to spread our limited resources as far and wide as possible.
Culture Bank members met to decide the successful funding applications for our March 2021 –
It was decided to fund Fault/Lines, a hybrid performance work created by In Transit Co., and members of the Wollongong community as a creative response to the crisis. As a company, they explore participatory processes to do large-scale performance works. Their work focuses on how people interact with spaces, structures, and systems that define human beings. The project asks a community to use art to respond to the idea of crisis (environmental, health, economic). It asks how we meet? How do we come to a consensus? What is our collective responsibility?
Culture Bank members loved an idea called “Vaudevillawarra.” local artists created a classic Vaudeville Variety show that includes Music, Comedy, Circus, and Theatre. Taking the show to venues that Vaudeville and music hall shows were once performed in – community halls.
Members also decided to fund the project development of a 5-minute video of an “exuberant elder.” With a bigger vision of producing a feature-length film documenting a range of creative, vibrant elders. This demonstrates that getting older doesn’t mean you need to lose your spark. The applicant wrote, “I am serious about developing the Exuberant Elders concept into a disruptive philosophy on aging. I need a way to reach and impact as many people as possible to begin spreading the word. I want to tell stories of exuberant elders – older people who make me unafraid to age”.
Culture Bank is providing funds to Screen Illawarra for a Festival of Film comprising a conference, networking, and screenings, designed to foster and promote the Illawarra and screen community. This financial contribution will effectively greenlight the project. They aim to make it an annual event.
Finally, Culture Bank also decided to fund The Short + Sweet Illawarra Theatre Festival, which will run over two performance weeks in July-August 2021. Short + Sweet Illawarra is open access and culturally inclusive. With its ten-minute format in all genres, it seeks to return ownership of that vital storytelling ability to the community.
Here are some other examples of projects Culture Bank had funded in the past:
The Dire Theatre Company, and the All-Female Shakespeare project. Their next project was based on the play “Anthony and Cleopatra” and performed in two Wollongong venues. Due to COVID -19 restrictions, the project transitioned to online. Our members are therefore helped to establish a seed fund to ensure their project continues.
Misty Escarpment asked us to support her wish to perform jazz concerts in local nursing homes for audiences who can’t get out to venues. Misty struck a chord with Culture Bank members when she wrote. “I recently played a jazz concert and noticed a frail elderly woman sitting up front, next to her middle-aged son. Her body looked contorted and pained, though she had the most beautiful, satisfied smile. In defiance of her discomfort, she wore a slash of red lipstick signalled. ” I’m going out for a good time regardless. Culture Bank members proposed that this event could be “public” – to invite the broader community into the homes to share the experience with residents, family, and staff. Song programming for the two events would consist of selective jazz standards that the audience would be familiar with, such as Girl from Ipanema, Take the A Train, and Summertime.
Urban Biodiversity Illawarra has been working to develop a fantastic website showcasing local native trees, shrubs, and plants for the last five years. They have a vision of a region where the local plants are grown everywhere for their beauty and benefit to local wildlife. Culture Bank received another application quoting, “Our vision is to get everyone across the Illawarra talking about enhancing their verges and gardens with beautiful local native plants!”. They wrote, “We’re on the point of releasing the website but would LOVE to have a big public launch that gets it into everyone’s awareness. Imagine all our local streets populated with the region’s stunning and hardy rainforest trees! It’s ‘culture’ in a slightly unusual sense, in that the trees grow themselves. Still, we think they will help create a more conducive environment for the creativity of all sorts across the region”.
Lillian Pang got the thumbs up when she shared her vision for “Fabled Feasts,” a bi-monthly storytelling event in Wollongong and its surrounds. She wrote, “Imagine an outdoor setting, tables, small stage area, sound system, food being prepared on the side. Strangers and friends arriving somewhere new – it never looked like this before. It probably won’t again. Entrées are served, music plays, and an exchange between storyteller and musician begins. Words, songs, and sounds dance as food is served. There is a time between each story for talk. Time to change seats for the next course and the next story. Create community, a shared moment, and then disappear into the night feeling full and warm”.
Earlier funding rounds have also supported local film screenings, a local record label launch, and the significant expansion of a writer’s festival – Including:
Anne-Louise Rentell to complete a draft script of The Siren Project in preparation for the development process and public showing of work in progress in July 2018. The Siren Project is the working title of a new performance work that draws narrative inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and the local Aboriginal myth of the Story of the Five Islands. While quite different stories, the indigenous and the western tale involve six sisters and six monologues, which underpin this new work.
These stories have been collated through the Where Lies Beauty oral history project. Our members also decided to fund Cortex Journal a digital publication that hosts articles on science, philosophy, and culture, complimenting Wollongong’s emergence as a cultural hub. The vision is to blend thought from science, philosophy, and art, especially promoting local content, writers, and artists. They are inspired by the diversity of concepts across the arts. They believe such an approach can be usefully applied to address political and social issues. Hoping to foster creative approaches to collaboration, especially across disciplines and schools of thought, and will publish creative and critical writings, illustrations, photography, and video. Funding was provided to support the creation of original artworks to celebrate the Omnibus poetry project and to gain more publicity for Culture Bank.
There was a public launch with poetry readings and a Culture Bank sign-up event. The funding saw a limited edition of art posters designed and printed, including an Omnibus poem by Ali Jane Smith and original artwork by local artist Tania Maria Mastroianni. Tania Maria Mastroianni also produced the animation in response to Ali Jane Smith’s poem. A poster and launch were a powerful way to collaboratively develop and extend the project’s life. While also acknowledging our current Culture Bank members’ contributions while looking to gain more (much needed) support from our community.
Culture Bank funded a theatre project called Elsie and the Bird. This performance was a character-driven circus show that explored mental health, sexuality, and gender. As artists, they used their experience and expertise in the circus to create a profoundly physical language – through aerial choreography and contemporary clown – which explores the overwhelming feelings of isolation and anxiety of a brilliant young person called ‘Elsie.’ The individuals involved work professionally in the region’s circus and mental health and are making a circus work that invites local audiences into this discussion.
Culture Bank members were also passionate about funding Lexicon Innovations for Parallel Lives. This contemporary experimental play challenged the construction of meaning between spectator, performance, and text. The work was new and attempted to use one dramatic text to produce two very different stories that were understood at the end of the performance night.
Culture Bank members decided to financially back Baby Teeth Journal in its creation of a print anthology of emerging and previously unpublished local writers. The ‘Never Heard of Them’ Anthology engaged directly with the local arts community through a series of workshops and a launch event. While teaching valuable editing skills that will benefit participants in the future. Also, while showcasing previously unheard voices, the anthology engaged with the broader community and shared life experiences between people who would otherwise never have met.
So far, we’ve given away over $100,000 to these and many more innovative projects, and we’re eager to do more! You can make that happen by joining us today or getting others to sign up!