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CASP 2020: Interview with Cootamundra Strings (Cootamundra)

The Country Arts and Support Program (CASP) is an annual small grants program administered by Regional Arts NSW on behalf of Create NSW, to support community arts and cultural development in regional NSW.

As we approach the opening date for CASP 2020 applications, we talk to previous CASP recipients to see how these small grants benefited their projects and communities at large.

Applications for CASP 2020 now open.  Prospective applicants must get in touch with their RADO before applying.


Cootamundra Strings (CASP 2018)

Please provide a brief bio for Cootamundra Strings.
Katie Spicer is the Artistic Director of Cootamundra Strings and began teaching violin and cello in Picton, NSW in the mid-90s. In 1999, she began gathering groups of 20 or more very young string players for performances at local festivals and nursing homes. By 2011, she had formed “Picton Strings”, which comprised of two orchestras of 17-27 players, comprising students from 13 local and regional schools. The group eventually participated in a four year program with the Australian Chamber Orchestra that included musicians working with students.

In 2016, Katie moved to Cootamundra in 2016 and established “Cootamundra Strings”. Currently comprised of 14 youth members aged between 4 to 18, drawn from local schools and the homeschooling community. At least half the group are new strings players with their first experience of group performance. Rehearsing in The Arts Centre Cootamundra (TACC), the group undertakes a minimum of 2 public performances per year and will soon perform at the upcoming TACC event, “Big Stuff” with Eamon Flack on 15 June.

Tell us more about the project you received CASP funding for.
Cootamundra Strings “Inception” CASP grant 2018.
● The Orchestra rehearses out of The Arts Centre Cootamundra Rehearsal Space
during school term each Thursday 4-5pm (30 rehearsals per annum)

● The CASP grant activity will conclude at the end of 2019 – so still some activity to
come.

● Performances completed:
– Recital at TACC (50 PAX)
– Performed at Lanternlight at The Arts Centre (40 PAX)
– Performed at “The Pond” lunchtime music sessions at Cootamundra Library (40 PAX)
– Cootamundra Public School performance (150 PAX)
– Sacred Heart Central School Cootamundra performance (60 PAX)

● School liaison with 2 local schools has begun. Cootamundra Public was keen to
include strings as part of their creative arts program – we are remodelling the lesson
plan to propose a group lesson on Thursdays prior to Orchestra rehearsals.

● During late 2019 a musical performance / collaboration is planned between The
Cootamundra Town Band and Cootamundra Strings

How did receiving CASP funding benefit you/your project? Were there any longer term benefits?
The CASP grant has enabled Cootamundra Strings to kick off with a bang, to launch a youth engagement program and provide musical equipment for participation. The raised profile has led to a new collaboration with The Town band and interest from educators regarding a new string music performance and participation activities.

Any advice for future applicants?
● Work closely with your RADO to shape a successful application
● Apply! It’s a great first time grant for local artists