The BIG DECISION DINNER 2022, Celebrating ten years of funding creativity!
Announcing the successful grant applications from our recent BIG Decision Dinner – celebrating ten years of Culture Bank – and a BIG congratulations to everyone!!
Even to those who were unsuccessful – because all the applications were heart-stirring. We simply wish we had more members – so we could have funded them all. If you think the following sounds like pretty good stuff, please remember we need you to keep doing what we do.
In this round, funding went to Sarah Hudson, who will be working with Liz Tadic and the Jam n Bread music project to document “…what we’ve come to think of as the secret, beating heart and musical soul of the Illawarra.” They will explore the concept of “hidden maestros” and the histories of local musicians, their connection to their own culture, the rhythms that sustain them and the common language they share. Secondly, funding also went to Narrelle Happ for a project titled – Indigenous Plants, Food and Culture Day. This project will be about Native Food Plant education, cooking, weaving and stories. It aims to educate the community to identify, plant, cook, weave and appreciate stories about local plant species. Thirdly, another went to Illawarra Potters Incorporated to sponsor two people for six months who are currently experiencing financial disadvantage but would like to start learning pottery. The next one went to Ali Gordon to develop a theatrical adaptation of local author Kirli Saunders’ picture book for primary school-aged children and their families. This adaptation of “The Incredible Freedom Machines” is a response to the isolation of COVID-19 and the importance of imaginative play for young people. “The book is both local and beautiful; it explores the world of a child who finds freedom and expression in a sometimes bleak world”.Another successful application went to Lucy Mills, who will develop a debut album and supporting content with the help of other creatives in the Wollongong area. And finally, a BIG nod to Holy Pavlova for creating an accessible, contemporary sound bath experience featuring Wollongong-based instrumental bands. They wrote: The event is designed to facilitate an internal experience, unlike a live music show where the audience is distracted by lights, crowd, conversation & alcohol.
A Garden for life
Narelle Happ will create an Indigenous Plants, Food and Culture Day
|Spring 2022 at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens|
Native Food Plant education, cooking, weaving and stories.
This will educate the community to identify, plant, cook, weave and appreciate stories about local plant species.
Another message has come in from a recent grant recipient – Ali Gordon, who wrote: I am so incredibly in awe of Culture Bank for the work they do to improve Wollongong’s arts and cultural life…What a unique place Wollongong is, and what wonderful people its members are to put their money into this work. Lockdowns proved a simply devastating time for my art practice, and I am only starting to rebuild my work and begin to emerge with new energy. It is such an incredible lift to receive funding at this time. My project will begin the process of bringing a new and important story to our young people using theatre. Our children have missed out on so much through the lockdown. They need stories that mirror and explore their experiences and offer hope for the future. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Culture Bank recently funded a project known as Holy Pavlova. (What a great and intriguing name). They just sent us this message to share with our community -“We are extremely grateful for the support in bringing new concepts to life. Diversity in music & art experiences contributes greatly to the vibrancy of a city. It wouldn’t be possible without the generous members of Culture Bank, and we’re very excited to share the outcomes with you.”
Illawarra Potters Inc
A message for Culture Bank Members from a recent successful grant application – The Illawarra Pottery Inc.:We are so grateful for this money; we have always wanted to provide some free spaces in this workshop. Still, because we need the money, it brings in fundraising to run the studio we haven’t been able to. With your funds, we can now purchase the wheel, provide the spots, and redirect our fundraising efforts into fundraising for a new large kiln. Thank you for giving this opportunity to 2 people. The sponsorship will also include clay, tools, firing and access to the studio, all at no cost for six months. What you all do is so amazing. We will be encouraging all of our members to join. THANKS AGAIN from all of us to all of you.
Culture Bank recently funded local musician Lucy Mills, who will develop a debut album and supporting content with the help of other creatives in the Wollongong area.
Lucy recently wrote to us, saying, ” Thank you so much! I went for a walk in the sun by the beach in Towradgi yesterday afternoon with a big smile on my face. I’m sure you know as a creative, it’s often solitary work, so to receive the support of Culture Bank (my community) makes a world of difference. I’ll be offering some discounts and/or free tickets to members when the time comes to release.
A little message from Sarah Hudson to our members: Hooray! Thank you so much! We can’t wait to make this beautiful film and share this music with the world! Thanks so much for supporting local artists and creatives – little grants have a big impact!
Local director and film-maker Sarah Hudson wrote: “Together with my favourite accomplice in film, Liz Tadic, we’ve been dipping our toes into the Jam n Bread music project over the last two years, set on documenting what we’ve come to think of as the secret, beating heart and musical soul of the Illawarra. Exploring the concept of “hidden maestros”, we’ve been getting to know the histories of local musicians, their connection to their own culture, the rhythms that sustain them and the common language they share. After making a showcase teaser and some promotional reels for Jam n Bread, the next phase is to tell the uniquely humorous, inspirational and incredible individual stories of the participants. First in line Laz, is a retired bus driver, active granddad, and a humble musical maestro who plays the most captivating Macedonian rhythms and melodies on his accordion. When it comes to musical talent, Wollongong has no idea of the genius it harbours. It’s time to bring our hidden maestros to a broader audience”.
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! 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 many projects funded by Culture Bank, 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 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 develop and extend the project’s life collaboratively. 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.