The Recovery Boost was a $10 million targeted measure announced by the Australian Government in 2020 as part of the Relief and Recovery Fund. It responded to the difficulties experienced by regional artists, arts organisations and communities who were heavily impacted by COVID-19.
Three streams are funding were available through the program:
Renewal (to $125,000 over three years)
Renewal grants will provide up to three years of funding to support projects that have strong partnerships and demonstrated long term outcomes, with sustainable future-positioning focus. These projects will be strategic in nature. Collaborations across State and Territory borders will be encouraged. The projects can be process-driven and provide an opportunity to think beyond ˜snap back’ and to consider renewed arts practice and learning processes.
Project activities could include partnership projects, community events or programs, First Nations-led renewal and wages for workers (First Nations worker positions will be encouraged).
Lake Tyers Beach
FLOAT AIR @ GIPPSLAND LAKES – an arts residency trail on the Gippsland Lakes
FLOAT Artists In Residence (AIR) will build on the success of East Gippsland’s floating art studio, FLOAT, an established residence moored on Lake Tyers that has been hosting artists since 2018. This project will establish a network of artist-ready venues across the Gippsland Lakes. Over three years Float Incorporated will plan, build partnerships, develop and then launch multiple venues in the region to be utilised as artists-in-residence spaces. The FLOAT AIR arts trail will operate as a social enterprise that grows creative and experiential tourism opportunities for local artists.
Borders – Regenerating creative practices along the Murray River
Arts Mildura will deliver Borders, a creative inquiry into vitalising people and place, which will explore the relationship between creative, cross border communities in Victoria and New South Wales along the Murray River. Artists from regional Victoria and NSW will explore the impacts of COVID-19 border closures on their communities. Reinstating the value of rivers as meetings places and ecologies, the Borders team will foster an environment aimed at renewing creative practices in the regions. Unfolding across four communities (Albury/Wodonga, Echuca/Moama, Swan Hill region and Mildura) arts organisations will join to engage regional artists from both sides of the border.
Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) – Shepparton and Bendigo
Shepparton and Bendigo
Out of the Box – Intercultural Regional Arts Network
Funding will support the development of Out of the Box, a new intercultural arts network to connect cultural workers and artists of colour in Shepparton, Bendigo and online. This network will enable these artists to demonstrate diverse forms of cultural production and will build skills, knowledge and opportunities that reflects a contemporary, multicultural vision for regional Victoria. Funding will allow a Cultural Facilitator to work across partnerships with young digital content producers, accessing platforms for sharing content online. Out of the Box will renew confidence, build sustainability for regional artists of colour, and develop new models of learning and practice.
Horsham Rural City Council
People, Projects, Place – a creative boost for the Wotjobaluk Nations
People, Projects, Place will support the peoples of the Wotjobaluk Nations, to achieve their cultural and creative ambitions working with the Barengi Gadjin Land Council. The project will strengthen partnerships, addressing the impacts of COVID-19, experienced by First Nations people. Funding will support new creative networks, services and skill development for Traditional Owner artists improving cross cultural knowledge, and awareness for non-Indigenous partners. This will become a bridge between First Nations people and local Council and artists/arts groups. Horsham Council will provide mentoring, including the provision of a network of creative professionals to collaborate when invited supporting the Indigenous community.
Warrnambool Art Gallery
Maar Nation Gallery & Cultural Engagement
Funding will support the employment of a Curator of Cultural Engagement at the Maar Nation Gallery, Warrnambool Art Gallery to implement programs, exhibitions and workshops. This role will engage with the community, connecting them to Aboriginal-led exhibitions and activations that are safe and accessible, inspiring people to visit, boosting business participation and engagement. Working with the established Maar Nation Steering Committee of Aboriginal Elders and Cultural leaders, and Gallery staff, the Curator will build meaningful connections with Traditional Owners Groups and communities to optimise the use of the Maar Nation Gallery space responding to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recovery (up to $30,000)
Recovery grants were designed to meet the medium-term recovery needs of artists, organisations and communities. Projects in this program focused on activities that assisted in recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. Project activities included creative recovery projects, training programs, operational recovery plans, asset purchase or replacement (up to $5,000) and the development of risk plans and emergency operating procedures and responses.
The funds will be used to create a new theatre work coming out of COVID-19 restrictions, combining Ballarat Indigenous and non-Indigenous actors. It will galvanise the community empathy that has emerged during lockdown and will have a focus on Indigenous treatment since Federation to the present. The process will involve Indigenous consultation, writing, set design, rehearsing and a public showing. A guided workshop will follow the showing and performance. Facing Up will be adaptable to a wide range of audiences in a variety of contexts and will be available to tour for Reconciliation Week in 2021.
Art Resource Collective Inc.
The Arc Print Studio Re-engagement Project
Funds will support Art Resource Collective to run technical art workshops. Capable technicians are essential for artists and designers, as they allow them to develop and produce products and workshops including facilities for printmaking, ceramics, set building, 3D, painting and drawing. The Arc print workshop will also perform the role of œhub for pathways to and from external print studios, arts education organisations and creative-makers networks around Gippsland and Victoria, strengthening shared arts culture, product development, small business, residency and training opportunities.
Music Mentorship; Developing young people & community
This project is a mentorship program that will support medium-to-long term arts practice and employment for two regional artists in direct response to COVID-19. The mentorship will develop new skills, offer unique workshops and connect regional communities. It will involve experienced local musician, Tom Richardson, and young, upcoming musician, Lewis Stone, who identifies with a disability. The project will develop an engaging and accessible drumming program, and promote social cohesion across the entire southwest region.
The Centre for Rural Communities Inc.
Lake Tyers Beach
School for unTourists
School for unTourists (S4U) is an artist-made destination experience, curated and operated by the artists who have embedded themselves in the Gippsland Lakes catchment. Artists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and community will collaborate across Lakes Entrance to reactivate a town through arts-led tourism. S4U establishes a creative enterprise in a struggling tourism town, activating Lakes Entrance wharf precinct and creating direct and indirect income streams. S4U will engage a new generation of local artists and be a base for a creative community that has, until now, had nowhere to gather due to COVID-19.
Rainbow Arts and Culture Foundation
Rainbow Serpent Festival – Conscious Streaming
Funding will support the recording of the Rainbow Serpent Festival, a gathering of storytelling, music, dance and corroboree. This project is essential for the recovery of the Rainbow Arts and Culture Foundation from the impacts of COVID-19. A recording direct from the Rainbow Serpent Festival site in regional Victoria will feature the Rainbow Serpent dreaming storytelling, Welcome to Country and ceremonies by the local Dja Dja Wurrung and Wadawurrung First Peoples, and live music, leading into an evening of dance and celebration by seminal Victorian musicians, visual artists and performers.
Metanoia Theatre (Metanoia T Inc)
The Deregulated Market of Fact and Fiction – a tragedy with performance possibilities in 150 parts
Funding will support Metanoia Theatre to create the work The Deregulated Market of Fact and Fiction. This performative elaboration of local market traditions will see artists as stallholders working at their ironic entrepreneurial best, grasping at straws, making meaning out of commodities and never letting the truth get in the way of a good story. This project addresses social disconnection, loneliness and isolation experienced by the community after months of lockdown, and immerses audiences in communal arts experiences that are safe in this new COVID-19 world.
Glenelg Shire Council
A.D.A.P.T.D. – A Digital Adaptation of Performance and Theatre Development
A.D.A.P.T.D. is a collaboration between Portland Arts Centre and theatre company Lab Kelpie to deliver an innovative series of three performances and three training opportunities over six months for the Glenelg Shire community. Each activity will be adaptive, and together will form a tailored journey of applied skill development for participants, and a flexible, COVID-safe pathway from digital to live engagement for the audience. The project anticipates a different future and tests new ways of working with the community, particularly Seniors and LGBTQIA+ youth, to find their voices, tell their stories, and empower the creation of a local youth theatre group.
Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) Bendigo
Bendigo Cultural Exchange
Bendigo Cultural Exchange will be a dynamic cooperative suitable for running an arts and cultural centre based on self-determination, sharing and exchange. Through a collaborative methodology, MAV will operate a shared facility under a COVID-safety plan that will include a program of capacity building, enterprise development, mentoring, exhibitions and installations, studio based practice, forums, and creative commissions that consider the Mining Exchange through the lens of decolonisation. MAV will develop an in-parallel strategy to build sustainability and growth of this model through their networks.
The Synergy Exhibition
Funding will support The Synergy Exhibition at the Lot 19 Gallery in Castlemaine, Central Victoria. The Synergy Exhibition will be a COVID-19 recovery project, building on earlier initiatives by Helen Bodycomb to unite a group of regional women isolated by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
Brambuk: Renewing our Arts Program
Brambuk, The National Park and Cultural Centre in Halls Gap, celebrates and interprets the cultures of the Jadawadjali and Djab Wurrung Peoples of Gariwerd (Grampians). The project will involve Traditional Owner artists trialling a series of musical performances and arts workshops at Brambuk, which could then be included in Brambuk’s ongoing cultural program. Due to COVID-19, Brambuk will have to pivot its visitor offering to focus on domestic markets as international markets are unlikely to fully recover before 2023. The cultural activities will involve contemporary interpretations of cultural traditions, with artists telling their own stories through music and visual arts.
The Village Festival of New Performance Inc.
In partnership with the Castlemaine State Festival and Murnong Mamas, The Village Festival will premiere its community art project Our Village under the newly established Village Production House. The Production House is a response to the challenging realities of COVID-19 and sees a pivot to produce COVID-safe community art in partnership with third party regional festivals. Our Village, the first project within this new model, has been programmed in the 2021 Castlemaine State Festival. It will be a collaborative arts project where child participants construct a utopian cardboard city which is flooded, and from the debris a native garden grows.
This is Your City – Albury Wodonga
HotHouse Theatre will create This is Your City – Albury Wodonga, a multi-reality, location-based game inspired by a 1980s legacy board game of the same name. Reimagined, regional communities will play the game live through the twin cities in a 1980s-style car rally. Combining live performance, geocaching and immersive theatre, participants will race through the cities, exploring spaces, hunting for clues, completing tasks and experiencing performances to complete the game. Developed by regional artists, this work will catalyse recovery, reactivating the creative industry, supporting local business and providing long-term impact on domestic tourism with a COVID-safe visitor attraction.
Arapiles Community Theatre (Act Natimuk)
GRIST – A Portable Arts and Cultural Venue.
The funds will be used for a portable venue GRIST, informed by the agricultural landscape that surround the town of Natimuk. GRIST will be an adapted field bin, custom-designed to offer a variety of arts and cultural opportunities within the many open spaces of Natimuk and surrounding areas. A COVID-safe moveable feast, it is a stage for performance, an external exhibition space, an afternoon or evening hub of musical treats, a peek-a-boo dance experience, a space for sharing cuisine, and a bar.
Relief (up to $5,000)
Relief grants were designed to assist regional artists, arts organisations and communities to meet their immediate needs. This included asset replacement or purchase, support for arts practice (including self-directed residency/research and development), small projects and professional development opportunities.
Image: Balmoral Mural by Rowena Martinich and Geoffrey Carran, supported by the Regional Arts Fund. Photo by Clare Ryan.