Arts Mid North Coast goes online to overcome COVID-19 challenges

Creative juices: Steph Sims will present her ukulele course online through Arts Mid North Coast. Photo: Jay Black
Creative juices: Steph Sims will present her ukulele course online through Arts Mid North Coast. Photo: Jay Black

Arts Mid North Coast says it is meeting the challenges of COVID-19 by finding new ways to present its creative projects and programs.

The organisations covers an area from Woolgoolga to Tea Gardens.

Executive director Kevin Williams says it's important that creative outlets are maintained in many and various forms, particularly during the current climate.

"We have to look past the initial problem that is being presented in front of us and look at it as a challenge," he said.

"It can be a difficult process because everyone has a different level of awareness of skills in technology.

"But we want to meet that challenge."

With social distancing and gatherings restricted to no more than two people, Mr Williams says it is vital to tap into new ways of presenting projects.

He said Arts Mid North Coast has presented a proposal for grants under the Australia Council Resilience Funding.

This would see Arts Mid North Coast working with its network of artists, arts groups and venues across the region to research and explore ways to collaborate creatively, increase digital capability and accessibility, and reach new audiences.

"We would do this by identifying ways we can adapt our own platform to be enhanced to increase accessibility and reach a broader audience for local artists," he said.

We would do this by identifying ways we can adapt our own platform to be enhanced to increase accessibility and reach a broader audience for local artists.

Kevin Williams

"This could include, ideas such as integrating live-streams, podcasts, online forums and webinars, links to artists online gallery or stores.

"We are also working on an online roundtable of local artists, organisations and venue operators; to identify skills gaps and needs within the local arts sector; identifying how to bring together local artists/industry professionals for knowledge and skills sharing, creating stronger connections and opportunities for collaboration and building upon shared platforms.

"This would also include a series of workshops or webinars delivered locally, providing access to industry professionals.

"Topics would include technology/software, copyright, live-streaming and podcasting tips, live captioning and audio description, Auslan interpretation, developing online galleries/performances.

"Along with a series of online events and publication via live stream performances (music, dance, theatre/performance/readings) and final e-zine to document event and journey."

Mr Williams said Arts Mid North Coast had also supported applications by Sculpture in the Gaol and Dance for Wellbeing for relevant projects.

He pointed to the Isolation Creation Mid North Coast project on Arts Mid North Coast's website as one avenue to harness the online sector.

Virtual markets

The Made With Love Markets were due to be held on May 3 but will now go ahead as an online virtual market.

Stalls will have online shop fronts where viewers can click through to check out the stallholders website.

The virtual market is on for one week commencing on Sunday April 26 at 9am. It concludes at 9pm on Sunday May 3.

The Our Rivers - Our History project involves seven museums from the Manning Valley to the Macleay.

This digital exhibition presents some of the most significant objects held in local museums relating to rivers and coastal waters.

The Port Macquarie Museum's newest online exhibition is called Tourist Paradise and features photographs, objects and stories from its large collection.

Or, why not join for the absolute beginners' ukulele course, starting on April 28 from 4pm until 5pm.

The course is held on Zoom and is held over 10 weeks. It is hosted by Steph Sims.

Courtesy Arts Mid North Coast

Arts Mid North Coast will update projects and provide news and information through its website.

Some resources also on its creative recovery website.

Meanwhile Mr Williams said he was buoyed by the recent announcement of $10 million investment by the federal government into the regional arts sector.

The scale of loss of activity and income across the cultural and creative sector, as a direct result of COVID-19, is unprecedented and devastating both culturally and economically.

This is particularly felt across regional Australia, where many industries and communities are yet to recover from the impacts of the bushfires, floods and drought.

The creative industries are a crucial element in the future of sustainable and liveable Australian regions and are central to thriving and healthy communities across regional, rural and remote Australia.

Arts and culture activities will be vital in the recovery and renewal process of the Australian COVID-19 response.

Regional Arts Australia manages the Regional Arts Fund currently valued at $13m over 4 years on behalf of the federal government.

The fund is an extensive national regional arts grants program, delivered in partnership with state and territory members and regional program administrators.

It is one of the most successful avenues for delivering targeted programs, devised by, and meeting the needs of regional Australian communities, Mr Williams said.

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