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Need some artistic relief? Art helping to brush away the stress of drought

An Art Relief Program was created in 2018 by regional artist Narelle Whitlam, aimed at tackling the hardships and severe impact the drought has taken on rural communities.

The program provides free art classes to both adults and children (no artistic prerequisites required!), in a caring, safe and supported environment.

Partnering with South West Arts, these workshops provide so much more than just a creative space for these farmers and their families. Mental Health is a growing health concern within rural communities with the incidence of depression and anxiety for farming families during this extended drought period is well documented; and it’s not only farmers who are affected, but the entire community.

The Program has been a great success with requests to expand the program to other drought affected communities within NSW. Thanks to the generous funding support of the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network Community Grants Program, Art Relief will be expanded to numerous towns across the region, from July to December 2019, with an additional 40 workshops proposed.

The Moulamein Country Women’s Association and South West Arts provided the free use of venues to accommodate the program. Initially Narelle provided the art supplies however momentum is growing with some very generous material donations provided from other art suppliers.

This Art Relief Program is a simple yet effective way to establish the much-needed social connections and is a welcomed distraction from the daily issues and financial stresses the drought and recovery period has caused.

The drought recovery period is often overlooked, however also crucial for a smaller community as this can take years to regain the huge loses.

The aims of the newly expanded Art Relief Program are:

There has been plenty of artists, both local and from as far as Geelong in VIC, volunteer and become a part of the Art Relief and hosting workshops, however they are always welcoming of more volunteers. If you’re interested in running an art class, event volunteering or providing art and food supplies, please email Narelle on or head to the South West Arts website

Image: Less 2 More Creations

Image: Less 2 More Creations

Image: Less 2 More Creations

Image: Less 2 More Creations