Gold Coast talent recognised with 22 local artists receiving government funding

22 Gold Coast artists and musicians have recently been announced as successful recipients of Queensland Government stART Grant funding through Placemakers* Gold Coast and QMusic.

The stART Grant initiative has provided crucial support to the arts industry with over $500,000 worth of funding to be provided to 160 selected applicants across Queensland, and this week 22 successful applicants from the Gold Coast were announced, acknowledging the hub of exceptional music and arts talent on the Gold Coast.

The Program was established by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland to support the state’s independent creative practitioners including artists, artist collaborators, producers, designers, technicians, freelance and other arts workers impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Placemakers*Gold Coast CEO and Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis, together with Tristian Schultz, a co-director and founder of Relative Creative and Jo-Anne Driessens from City of Gold Coast were part of a panel that reviewed more than 50 applications from Gold Coast artists, while QMusic was selected as the delivery partner for the state’s music industry to help support creative development and business activities focussed on future opportunities during the COVID-19 recovery phase.

The grant called for all eligible Gold Coast creative practitioners to apply for the stART Grant Program in mid- June. The 22 talented local artists will receive $3,000 each to support their practice.

The 15 Gold Coast recipients of stART Grant Program Funding for the arts sector are:
  • Mint Art House: Planning and development of a semester-long program of summer workshops and artist-talks in Burleigh Heads.
  • Mayella Dewis: A First Nations podcast where creatives and artists can discuss their experiences, successes and failures within a western framework.
  • Thomas E.S. Kelly: Proud Bundjalung-Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni-Vanuatu man who uses mostly dance, film, theatre, music, puppetry and teaching. He will be upgrading equipment to aid his video and music productions for ‘Shake A Leg’, a series of dance classes made for everyone and other works in development stages.
  • Eduardo Knox: Development of a specific sculpture titled ‘Umbrella Effect’ for the Swell Sculpture Festival 2020.
  • Jayne Fenton Keane: Develop writing on a site-specific work for Binna Burra and Lamington National Park with local artists.
  • Shannen Jones: Creation of an aluminium handstand and contortion table and creation of a new circus contortion act marketed towards corporate entertainment and events.
  • Marcel Lim: Exploring and learning artistic photography and learning to produce editorial images.
  • Guy Cooper: Capturing the artistic sounds of the Gold Coast in 3D Ambisonic surround sound and 360 Video delivered in a digital website-based project.
  • CJ Anderson: Is a designer focusing on furniture and objects based on the Gold Coast and will purchase equipment to continue ongoing creative developments in scale and scope.
  • Rebecca Ross: Continued creative development supported by technology upgrades to sustain artistic activities.
  • Thea Skelsey: Creation of tapestries to materialize a current story of time and place.
  • Aaron Dexter: Continued development in being a stunt performer for film and television.
  • Dat Ly: A qualified dancer who is purchasing equipment to develop portfolio’s for other artists.
  • Sally Wright: Purchase of new materials to development new artwork for a SE QLD Arts space.
  • Josie Feingold: Circus workshops and shows in schools.

“The announcement today that these 15 talented artists have been selected to receive a stART Grant is simply fantastic news and will support these talented creatives in pursuing their goals. The funding provided by Arts Queensland has truly assisted in injecting some life back into our industry that has been crippled since March. Congratulations to all the successful applicants, and all the artists who applied for the grant. The talent pool on the Gold Coast is astounding!” said Placemakers*Gold Coast CEO and Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis.

The 7 Gold Coast recipients of stART Grant Program Funding for the music sector are:
  • Henri Sison
  • Richard Neill
  • Karl S. Williams
  • Elska Ninnes
  • Nick (Nicky) Muir
  • Kate Leopold
  • Kade Jones

QMusic facilitated the submissions and assessment process of music applications from across Queensland with an independent assessor panel of music industry experts.

“We received an overwhelming amount of applications from all over Queensland from applicants wanting to support the recording of new music, digital art projects, live performance opportunities that connect with communities and songwriting workshops,” said Program and Development Manager Dom Miller.

Local musician ELSKA’s grant project the #ConstantCreationProject  is an ambitious one, with the singer, songwriter and harpist committing to writing 30 songs in 30 days.

“Frankly, I don’t even know what I’ve got myself into – I’m certain quarantine has fried a few brain cells!” she told Blank GC. “I’m attempting to bravely write 30 songs in 30 days and honestly I’m beyond nervous! The #ConstantCreationProject is super ambitious and like nothing I have ever committed to before – but I’m excited to challenge myself, push my boundaries, step outside my comfort zone, and high-kick into the creative unknown!”

ELSKA hopes the project will push her songwriting to new levels.

“By showing up to my craft daily and dedicating time to develop my songwriting skills, I hope to walk away from this experience a stronger songwriter. To be honest, I don’t truly feel like I know myself deep enough as a writer yet, and this is simply due to not putting enough hours into writing songs. I want to use this project to expand my songwriting tool belt by incorporating a variety of songwriting exercises, ideas, prompts and techniques to spark my creativity – with the goal that the more I explore different writing methods, the easier it will be to dip into my writing tool belt in the future.”

She’s also put out a challenge to other artists to do the same, grant or no.

“I would LOVE to challenge other songwriters and creatives to step up and challenge their own creative practice by joining in on their own 30 day #ConstantCreationProject! I would also love to encourage anyone who wants to be more creative, to start being creative daily too. Creativity is something we all have, and have access to. It is not just for professional artists. It’s anything we do that excites us, invigorates us, or offers a moment of pure joy. Creativity is the permission we give to ourselves to do what we love. What would happen if you accessed your creativity every day? If you decided to play? If you forgot the boundaries for a moment, stepped outside your comfort zone and just said yes?”

You can follow ELSKA’s musical journey over on Instagram @elskamusic. The project kicks off in August.


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