Our region is still recovering from several years of ongoing drought. Many of our local farmers suffered, selling livestock to stay afloat.
On top of that our area was closed to the outside world for 12 months because of the 2019/2020 fires and now covid has taken over our lives.
During the bushfires of 2019/20 we were completely surrounded by fires.
Our only escape route being directly north. Many of our local community are volunteer fire-fighters and each area had RFS team members out fighting fires for months.
Our area was a tourist no-go zone. After the fires our borders were still very limited by the extent of the destructive fires.
Then we were again a no-go zone as the pandemic gained momentum. The ski season went ahead but on a limited basis.
What does this mean? Our region relies heavily on tourism. No tourism no income for our businesses. Our farmers and their families had already suffered. Now our local business owners were closing down their businesses one by one.
We have all been in isolation for so long that depression has been hovering for a long time.
There had been discussions about the lack of an art gallery in our region - the Snowy-Monaro region. The only art galleries in existence that were remotely close to us were those in Canberra and Bega. The Snowy Mountains Photographic Society put forward a submission for a micro grant from South-East Arts in the hope that we could start up a small gallery. We were very fortunate to receive this grant, and with $1000 and some keen local artists we established the Jindabyne Art Gallery.
Opening the art gallery has brought in fresh air and a spot of brightness. Our community has rallied around and helped us get started. We have offered our artists a reason to start creating by giving them an exhibition space and chance of earning some much needed income.
PROJECTED GOALS : RESET REFRESH RECOVER
We have a foot in the door now – our aim is to open that door fully to art and culture for our community. ART & CULTURE have been ignored in favour of sport and outdoor activities. There are many people who are not able to take part in sports offered in our region for many reasons – older people who are less mobile, the disabled who can’t access outdoor activities and those who prefer being involved in art and culture.
We want to address some key goals: RESILIENCE, MENTAL HEALTH, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT and EDUCATION.
We started with EDUCATION in December 2020 by allowing our 2 schools, Jindabyne Central School and Snowy Mountains Grammar, to exhibit their year 12 final artworks to the public. This was a success with accolades flowing and giving our school leavers a positive outlook in a time where they aren’t able to have the usual end of year events.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT and MENTAL HEALTH: currently we are developing an events calendar which will include a variety of workshops that will allow people to leave their homes and find a new and fresh approach to their lives through art. These workshops are filling so quickly that we need to find more time and resources to fulfil demand.
We hope to extend these workshops to include extended Art Therapy classes after the winter.
Seniors are encouraged to come and volunteer at the gallery – this gives them a social outlet and encourages them to find a new energy.
Many of our artists have expressed their gratitude for encouraging them to once again pick up their tools and start creating again.
Others have expressed how cathartic it has been to be able to paint and view photographs from those dreadful months and has spurred them on to make a fresh start.
We also are working on finding programs for those that are disabled giving them a new way of expression via art.
RESILIENCE is what we are building in our community through art, photography and culture.