Community Artists. Part 2. Exceptions to the Rules

Last week, two models were cited, of how Community Artists are hired and matched; skills to needs; Artist to project/community. This week I recap on these common models and illustrate that from time to time, alternative processes occur. The illustration is taken from the working experience of Festive Factory.

Recapping on last weeks information, a community may conceive a project for a specific event or purpose and then seek a suitable artist to facilitate the execution within the community. Alternatively an artist will conceive of an idea and propose it to a community to participate. In both instances, funding will be sought and an auspice body appointed.

Whilst not the mainstay of Festive Factory operations, we have received, over the last 20 years, a number of invitations to coordinate and work with communities, as ‘Artists in Residence’ for specific projects.

The nature of the expertise shared, has included intensive workshops in the field of puppetry both construction and performance, community group management, float building, choreography, design, and overall facilitation to see a project through from concept to delivery.

From time to time, exceptions to the models cited above, occur, and this is relevant to the way in which Festive Factory has been employed.

One such example is cited below.

To celebrate the Federation of the Nation, The City of Melbourne devised a state-wide event, called ‘Nation on Parade’. It invited (and provided funding) to all shires in the state of Victoria on application, to bring their communities in a parade celebration, down the main street in Melbourne. The theme of each Shires’ particular contribution, was determined with in the individual communities.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council approached Festive Factory to take over its project, late in the process. That is, the original applicant had withdrawn from further involvement after theme and proposals had been submitted and grant money received.

In accepting the job, we (Festive Factory) were given a pre-approved brief (as set out and approved in the grant application) and advised that every organization and school within the shire needed to be invited to participate, in what ever capacity they felt able or suited.

Consequently, all schools, CFAs, SES, Rotaries, CWAs Scouts, Girl Guides, Lions, Business Trader Organisations, Ambulances, Police, multiple social clubs were all invited to contribute and become a part of the parade float construction process, or walk in the parade along side all the other participating Shires of Victoria.

For this project, Festive Factory worked closely with the community utilising their skills and experience in design, project management, stage management, choreography, and float construction. We coordinated sewing circles with CWA in our lounge room, papier mache workshops with school kids, choreography with all the other groups mentioned earlier to facilitate a well orchestrated parade that our Shire could be proud of.

The title of the project was ‘Pheonix Rising’ and the theme was regarding the community recovery after the terrible and tragic bush fires called ‘Ash Wednesday’.

Next week, more examples from the Festive Factory ‘Artist in Residence’ archives.