Campaign supports creative community

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A fundraising campaign is helping Canberra region artists to continue making and creating.

Going the Distance aims to support artists to undertake alternative activities such as online workshops, exhibitions, developments and performances with the first round of successful artists announced recently – Alex Asch, Jim Sharrock, Larry Brandy, Rebecca Taylor, and Robbie Karmel.

The projects will be presented free and online through various platforms over the next few months.

Going the Distance is an initiative of the Belconnen Arts Centre (BAC) designed to provide support to help try and sustain the creative community.

Executive director and co-CEO of BAC, Jack Lloyd, said they launched the fundraising campaign towards the end of March and “we reached our fundraising target to fund five projects really quickly”.

The initiative received 38 applications and Mr Lloyd said there are “certainly more [projects] that we would love to support and hope to support” with another 10 waiting in the wings.

“Hopefully the artists benefit from this and find new audiences. It’s certainly an experiment for us.”

Helping the BAC achieve their vision is the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. Executive Dean of the Faculty, Professor Jason Bainbridge, said they are providing advisory and technical resources and assistance to participating artists.

“It is a very new format to get used to and a new way of connecting with audiences.”

Prof. Bainbridge said while many artists have suffered financially during COVID-19, there is also the loss of “audience engagement”.

He said Going the Distance helps provide an additional platform for artists to generate work and believes “there’s real appetite to see that kind of creative practice online”.

“One of the great things, one of the opportunities coming out of the COVID-19 period, is learning how to work differently and better to engage with audiences,” he said.

While “nothing will replace face-to-face” for the arts, Prof. Bainbridge acknowledged that in some cases, “normal didn’t work well before COVID-19”.

“I think, in a strange way, it has provided an opportunity for rethinking how artists engage with audiences.”

Donations to the Going the Distance campaign can be made online at www.belcoarts.com.au/support/. Donors can choose to make a one-off or ongoing monthly donation.

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