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Regional Creative Ageing Fund (2015)

Older people throughout the world are being encouraged to make the most of their later years through physical and creative activities, and residents in towns serviced by four Regional Arts Development Organisations are showing their communities a variety of ways to engage in the arts.
Southern Tablelands Arts (STARTS), Eastern Riverina Arts and Western Riverina Arts – received funding from the Office for the Ageing’s Regional Creative Ageing fund – while the fourth, Arts Mid North Coast hosted The Big Chat, a one day symposium that celebrated creative ageing on Monday, 23 March.
The STARTS project, Maisie’s Choir and Kitchen Band, has brought together a number of enthusiastic people from the Yass area to hone their musical skills under the tutelage of choir leader, Jane Edwards.
After the choir’s first get together it was clear there was enthusiasm and talent in the group and signs that the people would be coming along from other municipalities apart from Yass. Partners in the project with STARTS include Goulburn Regional Conservatorium, Yass Valley U3A, Yass Valley Men’s Shed, Yass Valley Council, NSW Family and Community Services, Yass Valley Aged Care and the University of Canberra.
Facilitating artist for the Western Riverina Arts project, For Prosperity’s Sake, Louise Cooper has been meeting with local seniors in the Leeton region documenting their lives through audio, as well as encouraging people to represent their experience through artwork, self publishing and photography.
The stories collected by Louise will be published in a book, online and some childhood stories will be selected to be animated by local school children and shown at The Roxy Theatre in Leeton reflecting the inter-generational aspect of the project.
Louise has also been running free weekly craft workshops for seniors focussing on decoupage, photography and self-publishing. She told the Leeton’s local newspaper, The Irrigator, the ultimate goal for the project was to create an active, online source of collective wisdom that anyone can go to in times of need or just for the sake of curiosity. Other partners in the project are the RSL, the CWA and Rotary.
According to Eastern Riverina Arts (ERA) Communications Officer, Tim Kurylowicz, photographer, Shona Pratt, has brought out the gold in her photographic portraits of ten people aged over 60 from Coolamon Shire for the project, BOLD.
“She has really captured their spirit and vitality,” Tim said.
BOLD, selfies by oldies, playfully subverts the audience’s perceptions of ageing. Initiated by ERA, the project is in partnership with North East Riverina Rural Counselling Services, Murrumbidgee Medicare Local Healthy Coolamon Project, Coolamon Shire Council and the National Portrait Gallery.
The exhibition of portraits was officially launched on Tuesday 17 March, at the Up-To-Date Store, Mirool Street, Coolamon by the Member for Burrinjuck, Katrina Hodgkinson.
Executive Director for Arts Mid North Coast, Kevin Williams said The Big Chat had been an absolute must for anyone with an interest in creative ageing including artists, practitioners, aged care and health workers, Baby Boomers and beyond.
Arts Mid North Coast partnered with Arts & Health Australia and Port Macquarie Hastings Council to present the significant regional event. The Big Chat was a combination of keynote presentations and professional development / demonstration workshops – using visual art, theatre, dance, music singing, poetry, photography, creative writing and storytelling.
Speakers and workshop presenters represented key players in the field including Come Dance With Me, Queensland; Creatures Tales, Tasmania; Australian Centre for Arts and Health and Theatre for Memories, Port Macquarie and Uniting Care, ACT and NSW.
Maisie’s Choir and Kitchen Band, For Prosperity’s Sake and BOLD are funded through 

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