Bridging the Gap Towards Better Health in South West Victoria

RAV-Currency-by-Kim-Sargent-Wishart-a-dance-and-screen-project-which-featured-at-the-Warrnambool-Art-GalleryCorangamite Shire Council, Regional Arts Victoria, and other partners in the south west region will work together to provide mentoring and opportunities to young artists in a new initiative funded through VicHealth’s Everyday Creativity program.

Young participants will have access to professional industry advice and workshops in their chosen field over a 12 month period in a program designed to respond to their needs, with the aim to develop pathways for an arts practice or career, as well as develop creative projects for their peers.

During feedback sessions delivered for the South West Creative Industries Strategy last year, it was clear that young people felt a gap in support for creative ambitions with regard to industry expertise, advice and ongoing support. This project is one of the first confirmed outcome of the Strategy.

“Participation in the arts and creative sector can deliver wonderful health outcomes for young people, and this support from VicHealth is testament to this,” said Regional Arts Victoria CEO Joe Toohey. ”Projects that are led by young people are more likely to be relevant to young people, and we’re thrilled to be working alongside the young artists of south west Victoria so that they are able to realise their own creative ambitions.”

Corangamite Mayor Neil Trotter said it was great to be doing something for the Shire’s young people. “This empowering program is a terrific opportunity to help our young residents find their voice and help them address issues that are important to them,” said Cr Trotter.

“It will nurture participants’ creativity and help them express themselves in way that enriches their experience of belonging in the wider  community. Council is committed to supporting our youth and we’re pleased to be working with Regional Arts Victoria, VicHealth and the other Great South Coast councils, to improve the skills and resilience of our future leaders,” said Cr Trotter.

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio says creative new projects like the Creative Leaders program are designed to increase access for communities to encourage more people to participate in and benefit from our arts, cultural and creative sectors.

“Regular arts and cultural engagement mean better health outcomes, but unfortunately opportunities to engage in arts, cultural and creative experiences are not evenly distributed. Many people in our community face significant and complex barriers to participation,” said Dr Demaio.

“In the midst of coronavirus, it is more important than ever to support our community to feel socially connected and included. We are proud of these new partnerships that can ensure cultural, physical and systematic barriers to good health are addressed and diminished so more Victorians live healthier lives.”

The project will begin later in the year and will be led by Regional Arts Victoria in partnership with the five south west councils and existing networks. The Everyday Creativity grant is designed to promote health and wellbeing at the local level through participation in arts and culture. For more about VicHealth grants visit, www.vichealth.vic.gov.au for details.

Image: Currency – by Kim Sargent Wishart – a dance and screen project which featured at the Warrnambool Art Gallery (courtesy of Regional Arts Victoria)

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