Lower Hunter Artstart Program Report

Lower Hunter Artstart Program Project Summaries

Photo and Slide Presentation of Projects

The Hunter is fortunate in that we have the highest number of people per capita that derive income from Arts activity. Large numbers of educational and training institutions, a reasonable public transport system and local government which is sympathetic to youth issues. We also have the highest percent of calls to youth crisis lines nationally and youth unemployment of up to 28%.

The Artstart program in the Hunter commenced in 1992. Over the last few years it has evolved into a major youth program, that is driven, coordinated & promoted by young people for young people . In 1997 a regional committee comprising youth reps from each of the 13 local government areas, target groups and youth agencies, with young people involved, at every level of the project development, promotion, assessment, monitoring, funding and sponsorship negotiations, budgeting and management processes.

In the 1999 Artstart Program for the Hunter Region was divided into two areas of coordination. Arts Hunter, under the Direction of Kate Croll coordinated the Lower Hunter Program and the Upper Hunter Regional Arts Development Network, under the direction of Andrew Parker, coordinated the Upper Hunter Program.

Artstart has been the single most effective program in encouraging broad collaboration between youth, government agencies, educational and training institutions and non-government organisations in N.S.W. Issues affecting young people have been raised, promoted and placed squarely on the national agenda.        

       The success of the program is directly related to its support of young people at a grass roots level in their local communities, and the flexibility of a grants program that provides “quick response” seeding grants which are subject to localised peer assessment.

The ongoing support for the Artstart program from the state government has enabled structures to be established, maintained and strengthened, and local Artstart projects to build on the activities of previous years.  Thus producing more highly skilled, professional and dynamic results with each consecutive program.

The aims of the Artstart Funding were to target a wide range of service delivery organisations including those that are not normally targeted through existing networks. Young mothers, young farmers through their isolation have limited training opportunities - to achieve our aims we have developed links with the Hunter Regional Health Service and agricultural organisations.  Other strategic partners include the Awabakal Aboriginal Co-operative and Department of Juvenile Justice and Hunter Community Access, PCYC, Outreach Services, Community Non Profit Organisations (CNPO's), groups and also individual artists.

Joint programs and collaborative partnerships have been extended with the specific aim of bringing marginalised young people into situations which build self esteems, personal/social skills and encourage ongoing participation in mainstream activities. 

The Newcastle Community Arts Centre has been involved in the coordination of Artstart since 1992.  During this period the program has been refined and changed to meet the needs of participating youth.  The emphasis in 1997  was “make your own employment”. In 1998 the introduction of the regional coordination through, Arts Hunter, has improved our regional focus to maintaining and enhancing the Regional Committee providing greater access to regional partners. 

Many of our previous grant recipients have been encouraged to make their projects ‘on going’ by marketing the product of their activity and exploring business opportunities.

We have, through ARTSTART 98, established Artstart Web sites, exhibition and performance opportunities and regular forums which emphasise links to industry and training.  Close working relationships have also been established between TAFE, The Department of School Education, especially for the Ribbons of Steel Project, Newcastle University and other registered training providers.

Artstart participants funded in 1998/9 were encouraged to develop projects which build upon existing links and build new pathways between arts practitioners, training providers and business in both the public and private sectors.

In order to ensure broad representation, participation and support for this Artstart program, members of organisations who work with each of the target groups have been involved in the ongoing development of the program.

 Collaborative ventures, joint partnerships and regional interaction has been encouraged with many proposed projects “piggy backing” on existing mainstream events.

The long lead time has enabled us to build close working relationships with a broad range of organisations, many of whom have nominated representatives to our existing regional committee.  

The Arts Hunter - Outreach Program, has established relationships to be developed with the Regional Tourism Organisation, Hunter Development Board, Economic Development Organisation, Business Council, Hunter Region Organisation of Councils, Dept. of School Education, TAFE, Newcastle Uni. etc.  These existing working relationships have enabled joint coordination, management and marketing of Artstart ’99.

During the 1997 Festival - Artstart provided financial and promotional support to 70 projects across the region. After blanket media coverage, application forms for small grants will be distributed across the Upper Hunter region.  These ask applicants to state their aims, number of participants target groups, long term strategies, sponsors and partners etc. The Regional Committee assesses applications based upon variety, viability, target groups, art form, regional equity, etc.

For the 1999 program the Lower Hunter did not run a small grants program, but rather targeted strategic projects, partners and pilot projects. Small grants were still made available, but where ever possible they were used to strengthen existing networks and also to refund 1997 projects that had product based outcomes. Also projects that had other sources of funding were also supported to increase the number of project partnerships.

Due to the large number of existing festivals held during the official Artstart festival period, i.e. Ribbons of Steel, National Young Writers Festival, electrofringe, Fringe events, Carnivale,  Wollombi Folk Festival, and Mattara, project participants were encouraged to investigate exhibition and performance opportunities provided by existing festivals and events.

Thus Festival coordinators from across the Hunter have assisted young people to promote their skills by providing ‘showcasing’ opportunities.  This process maximises audience numbers and marketing dollars while setting precedence for youth participation in all future events and festivals. 

This collaborative approach provides cross-cultural experiences and strengthens local communities. 

Arts Hunter has extensive experience in developing and implementing promotional campaigns for specific interest groups - through Artstart 97 and Loud we have raised awareness of the contribution which youth can make through the media - ABC 2NC, 2NUR, The Newcastle Herald, The Post, The Star, Prime and NBN television were all very supportive.

Through past programs we have identified young people, organisations and individuals who have specific skills in this area and/or offer willing support - joint Arts Marketing Projects have been initiated to promote youth events and activities across the Hunter. A group of young people has been meeting regularly to coordinate a regional promotional campaign and a series of media training sessions with the aim of producing radio segments for 2NUR community radio.

Newcastle Uni - film, television, media and design students helped prepare promotional material as part of their course work, as have TAFE students.

The Dept. of School Education, Youth Intra Agencies and local government all provided extensive opportunities for the distribution of information to potential participants.

It is fair to say that the ongoing nature of the Artstart program coupled with increased community awareness has greatly enhanced the level of corporate and private sponsorship that could be attracted.

In the past, local government, education and training providers, the media, Youth Intra Agency and other non-government organisations have provided high levels of ‘inkind’ and financial support to individual projects.

It appears that we in the Hunter were in a unique position, due to the recent closure of BHP to attract funds for Youth Training programs through many organisations including the BHP, with the Ribbons of Steel Project, and Regional Development Board and Regional Tourism Organisation. 

Although, it has still proved difficult this year to attract major sponsorship for specific programs due to a very competitive sponsorship environment.

Established in 1997 our Regional Committee comprised of youth representatives from each local government area and a number of key agencies and target groups. This regional approach provided continuity and strengthened communication regarding projects and interactive opportunities across the region. 

Regional Committees assist in monitoring the project’s progress and encouraging broad participation - the Small Grant’s Applicants are required to submit a formal application form for funding (with budget) to this committee for evaluation.  The committee is required to ensure diversity of art forms, broad participation, regional equity etc.

In 1999 rather than have one specific regional coordinating committee, Arts Hunter as a regional coordinating committee sought out and supported partnership organisations that already had committees of young people involved in the project coordinating and management. Thus leading to strengthening the overall Hunter Network

This commitment to supporting existing networks, regional equity and broad participation coupled with local  knowledge has enabled a wide cross section of projects funded across the Hunter region.

All grant recipients are required to provide an artist and financial report with documentation and press clippings and anecdotal evidence of the project’s success.  




Thank you for your support and commitment to this vitally important regional initiative
Andrew Macdonald/Kate Croll
Arts Hunter

Artstart '99 - Youth Arts and Skills Festival




Hunter Region
Youth Arts and Skills 
Program 1999