Festival to showcase Ashford and Inverell talent

A Creative Communication and Accessible Arts Project, funded by disability services provider Endeavour Foundation’s Endowment Challenge Fund, is set to showcase local talent at this year’s Ashford Salami Festival (Saturday 15 October).

The project, which began in September, is designed to increase participation for people marginalised through factors such as disability and illness. With the classes already highlighting how arts and creativity can increase community participation, self-esteem and self-worth, reduce anxiety, and generally increase happiness, Ashford woman Gloria Sylvester’s only concern is that the project will ultimately end, and is keen to continue to explore her new-found enthusiasm for art.

"I love it! The girls look after us, and I love the work we do. It makes me happier,” she said.

Made possible through funding from disability service provider Endeavour Foundation’s Endowment Challenge Fund, and managed by the Ashford Business Council, the workshops’ participants come from both the Ashford and Inverell areas.

Arts Coordinator Jenny Blackey said that the project is already paying dividends.

“Each person in the group has shown greater enthusiasm and interest in the activities each week. We have some really nice artworks getting done and it's been great to see how much interest and pride each person takes in their artwork.”

Support coordinator Abby Hooker said that the program's benefits are 'immeasurable', as it creates opportunities to engage with different members of the community and be involved in art forms that participants have never been exposed to.

"Unfortunately people in the community with disability miss out on a lot of mainstream events due to financial constraints, or struggling to fit into groups that are already established, and this art program has made art and creativity accessible and comfortable," Abby said.

Project participants are excited about displaying their art at the Ashford Salami Festival, where members of the wider community will be invited to participate in some art activities.

The Endeavour Foundation Endowment Challenge Fund is a public benevolent institution that seeks to benefit the wider Australian disability sector as a whole, with an emphasis on inclusion for people with an intellectual disability. For further details go to www.endowmentchallengefund.com.au .

Creative Communication and Accessible Arts Project
Gloria Sylvester
Colleen Malinen and John Bennett