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 off with our first round that went out in August 2013. After a lot of lively discussion and debate, members opted to support art tours offered by Studio 19, SPATE 13 and a special project curated by the Austinmer Dance Theatre.
Our most recent round at the end of 2019 gave money away to support the following:
The Dire Theatre Company, and to fund their next All Female Shakespeare project. Our members are therefore helping to establish a seed fund to ensure their project continues into the future. Their next project is based on a play “Anthony and Cleopatra” and will be performed in two venues in Wollongong.
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 cord with Culture Bank members when she wrote “I played a jazz concert recently and noticed a frail elderly woman sitting up front, curled up next to her middle-aged son. Her body looked contorted and pained, though she had the most beautiful, satisfied smile on her face. In defiance of her discomfort, she wore a slash of red lipstick which signalled, ”I’m going out for a good time regardless””. Culture Bank members proposed that this event could be “public” – so as to invite the broader community into the homes, to share the experience with residence, 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, Summertime.
Culture Bank received another application that said “Our vision is to get everyone across the Illawarra talking about enhancing their verges and gardens with beautiful local native plants!”. Urban Biodiversity Illawarra has been working for the last five years to develop an amazing website showcasing local native trees, shrubs and plants. They have a vision of a region where the local plants are grown absolutely everywhere for their beauty and their benefits for local wildlife. 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 stunning and hardy rainforest trees of the region! It’s ‘culture’ in a slightly unusual sense, in that the trees grow themselves, but we like to think that they will help create a more conducive environment for creativity of all sorts across the region”.
Lillian Pang got the thumbs up too, when she shared her vision for “Fabled Feasts” a bi-monthly storytelling event in Wollongong and 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 – its never looked like this before. It probably wont again. Entrées served, music playing and an exchange between storyteller and musician begins. Words, song, sound dance as food is served. There is 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”.
Our members were moved to put our money towards supporting a local photographer who proposed developing a community based project, shedding light on homelessness and our sleeping lives. Keziah Sugarat wrote “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” is the topic of my project. My aim is to have an inclusive and non judging look into where our community sleeps. Being homeless for a short while myself and spending years travelling to the next couch, I wish to document and raise awareness”. Keziah hopes for everyone to come together at the end, realising the more vunerible people in our community and to focus on support and change. “Perhaps strengthening a part of the community that is sometimes shunned or ignored by many.”
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 visions present across the arts and 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, as well as illustration, 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. Funding will see a limited edition of art posters designed and printed, that includes Omnibus poems by Ali Jane Smith with original artwork by local artist Tania Maria Mastroianni. A poster and launch is a powerful way to collaboratively develop and extend the life of the project; while also acknowledging our current Culture Bank members contribution, while looking to gain more (much needed) support from our community.
A financial contribution was made by our members to encourage the development of a project called Elsie and The Bird.
This performance is a character-driven circus show that explores mental health, sexuality and gender. The individuals involved work professionally in both circus and mental health in the region, and are making a circus work which invites local audiences into this discussion. As artists, they are using their experience and expertise in 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’.
Most recently, Culture Bank members decided to fund Girls Rock! Wollongong who will bring a new group of young women, trans and non-binary folk onto the stage (literally). The week-long camp gives participants the chance to learn an instrument, form a band, and perform at the end of the week. Tutors are local musicians and campers also pay a fee to attend, to ensure musicians are paid. Culture Bank members voted to provide money to cover scholarships to attend this event. ROCK ON WOLLONGONG!
Culture Bank members were also passionate about funding Lexicon Innovations for Parallel Lives, an experimental contemporary play that challenges the construction of meaning between spectator, performance and text. The work is new and it attempts to use one dramatic text to produce two very different stories, that will be understood at the end of the performance night.
Thirdly, Culture Bank members decided to financially back Baby Teeth Journal in it’s creation of a print anthology of emerging and previously unpublished local writers. The ‘Never Heard of Them’ Anthology will engage 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 will engage with the wider community and share life experiences, between people who would otherwise never have meet.
So far we’ve given away over $70,000 +++ 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!