Looking for creative space that won’t cost a fortune? Join the queue. Despite big distances that challenge getting together across the region, there is actually a shortage of space. That is, easily accessible, low cost space available for community creativity, experimentation and the chance to fail as well as succeed. At the February Theatre Links in the West meeting in Penrith, above, and then in March, the issue of space was under discussion. Where is there a Penrith venue to host regular play readings, performances of short plays, somewhere to allow testing and development for writing and performance?
It’s the same issue in Blacktown, Campbelltown and many other communities across western Sydney. The established arts centres are very valuable, but the demand for their spaces is strong and hiring charges can be prohibitive for small groups. The cost of public liability insurance can be another barrier. Theatre Links itself meets at San Churro cafe in Penrith led by director and producer Ian Zammit, above right. Blacktown playwright and drama tutor Rob Escott, second from left, has temporarily solved his space problem by conducting activities at home.
Space was certainly an issue on the minds of participants in WestWords‘ Writing the West: Future Directions for Western Sydney’s Literary Culture, a seminar and workshop, held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on February 4th, left. The first priority to emerge from the event was strategic partnerships with other groups seeking similar resources and services. This led naturally to the second priority – a creativity centre or hub with the capacity to co-ordinate ‘writing mentors’ at satellite sites across western Sydney and to host writers in residence – among other roles.
Someone who has been pursuing solutions to the need of creative space in the Campbelltown area is Natalie Wadwell, third from left, front row, below. She successfully applied to the School for Social Entrepreneurs for training to assist her in establishing The Access Point – an independent art space particularly tailored for the western Sydney community. The Access Point, she says, “will operate at the intersection of community, culture and business; contributing to the region’s capacity to prosper culturally and economically. Investing in this venture means: community activation, artistic innovation and meaningful social collaboration.”
The School for Social Entrepreneurs was clearly impressed by her application. Natalie is thrilled with her experience. “I’ve just finished the first block of SSE and had to share with you how amazing the cohort is! They are tackling a range of issues, with three of us focusing on some form of the arts which is great. The commitment and dedication from the SSE team to deliver this opportunity to young people in Western Sydney is nothing short of remarkable. They genuinely care and are invested in us. The cohort is a sample of the diversity of young people in western Sydney. Their ideas and drive to promote social change in the region is inspiring to be around and I cannot wait for the next 4 months as we develop our ventures.” Natalie has been matched with a “fantastic” mentor from an established law firm.
She is keen to start building the network of people who share the same interest and invites you to contact her. Click here.
“The School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia nurtures those in our community that see big opportunities where others see big problems – social entrepreneurs drive local actions to meet local challenges. SSE is about helping communities to help themselves.“ – Emily Fuller, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation