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'Connect' Project On Song

The team at Arts Northern Rivers has been recognised in the Southern Cross University Excellence in Community Engagement Awards.

The awards in their fourth year, acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of university staff and community partners who have enriched communities in the university’s footprint during the past 12 months through community engaged teaching and research.

Arts Northern Rivers and its CEO, Peter Wood, received the award for the ‘Connect’ project that individually matched seven talented local musicians with leading professionals who acted as mentors for the duration of the program. The Regional Arts Board partnered with the university to conduct research that tracked and evaluated the program while also collaboratively developing a model for mentoring and supporting the development of creative arts practitioners.

Managed by Arts Northern Rivers, ‘Connect’ was made possible through funding from the Arts NSW Regional Partnerships Program. The report on the project noted the leadership role of Arts Northern Rivers was critical to its success.

One of the highlights of ‘Connect’ was an exclusive gig in December last year marking the end of the six-month-long program.  Hosted by Arts Northern Rivers, the “who’s who in the music industry” event had all the glitz and glamour, champagne and buzz of an invite-only showcase in the university’s Studio One29.

Special guests from Music NSW, Alberts Creative team, prominent music managers and booking agents flew in from interstate and joined local media identities, music producers, publicists and Lismore Mayor, Cr Jenny Dowell.

Also, following successful negotiations by Arts Northern Rivers, mentees were invited to perform at The Falls Music and Arts Festival in Byron Bay in December/January.

More recently, musicians Mitch King and Blake ‘Teddy’ Rhodes took out the Best Urban/ Hip Hop/ Funk category in the North Coast Entertainment Industry Association (NCEIA) Dolphin Music Awards with a song produced by their mentor AJ McFadden.

The other mentors/mentees were:

The Black Lullaby – Angela Saul, Lucus Zoro, Gav Bourke and Isaac Blomley
Mentored by Samuel J. Fell – Assistant Editor (Rhythms) / Freelance Journalist (Rolling Stone / Fairfax / Big Issue)

SupaFresh – Sarah Bennett, Blake Rhodes and Mitch King
Mentored by Anthony McFadden – Tour Manager at Live Nation (currently on tour with Alicia Keys).  Past – International Production Manager for Fat Freddy’s Drop, Production and Tour Manager at Niche Productions.

Starboard Cannons – Ash Bell and Matt Bone
Mentored by Clara Iaccarino – Manager to Mama Kin and Tinpan Orange, Co-Founder and Executive Producer at MAKEbeLIVE Productions

Shiny Shiny – Patty Preace andMelania Jack
Mentored by Candy Bowers – Co-Artistic Director, Writer & Performer at Black Honey Company

Andrea Soler
Mentored by
Frankie Kimpton – Co-director of Melbourne based boutique artist booking agency, HUB Touring

Sara Tindley
Mentored by Norman Parkhill
– Director at inSYNC Music, provider of specialist music services for film, TV and advertising

Jacob Pember
Mentored by
Jason Fernandez – Composer and Music Editor at Trackdown.  Past – Music Editor for Walking With Dinosaurs and Happy Feet 2.

Research by Contemporary Music lecturer, Dr Matt Hill in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, found five of the seven artists reported increases in the number of live performances since the project, and six of the artists reported an increase in the average payment for live performances. All of the mentees reported increases in post-project income from other sources such as royalties, grants or crowdfunding.

Dr Hill said the program had several significant positive impacts for the participants.

‘From the interviews it was clear that the mentorship program helped the musicians in a number of ways: building confidence, motivating and validating their art practice were common themes. The mentors helped to expand their networks and provided pertinent information. Most of the mentees developed concrete action plans designed to help them reach their musical goals,’ he said.

With Arts Northern Rivers