URL #3 COMMUNITY

 

COMMUNITY CONTEXT

Outer Urban Projects has evolved from community demand for a performing arts organisation in Melbourne’s outer north that provides quality long-term artistic activity, employment, social engagement and mentoring opportunities. The outer north is the company’s community and creative heartland. Our working map is north of the ‘Bell St Border’ in Melbourne. The OUP community access ‘people mover’ van treads the 1,100 square kilometres of the city’s northern municipalities of Hume, Whittlesea and the far north of Darebin and Moreland.

The following reveals the complex issues that OUP outer northern communities face. The Essential Economic report ‘One Melbourne or Two’ 2014, updated 2017, paints an alarming picture of Melbourne as two cities. Where the outer rim suburbs are accommodating 53% of the city’s population growth from 2016-2031 but only receiving 18% – 20% of State government funding allocations. The report states that without a major increase of state funds young people’s lives in these suburbs will continue to be characterised by relatively:

  • High levels of socio-economic disadvantage
  • High rates of drug and alcohol use
  • High rates of violent crime
  • High unemployment
  • Low provision of professional jobs
  • Low average incomes
  • High rates of mental illness
  • Low provision of higher order medical services
  • Longer commute times with poor provision of public transport options

 

With young people in these areas more likely to:

  • Engage in ‘risky’ behaviours, such as binge drinking
  • Demonstrate higher levels of self-harm behaviours
  • Experience higher levels of depressive symptoms
  • Report a higher rate of experiencing bullying than non-Interface young people report
  • Not have a trusted adult in their life compared to non-interface young people

 

‘One Melbourne Or Two’ identifies ‘relatively low provision of arts and cultural services (libraries, arts centres etc)’ in these areas. In respect to arts policy, infrastructure and resourcing the ever– expanding outer urban belt of our city sits in a type of creative limbo between Melbourne’s gentrified inner-city suburbs and regional Victoria, lacking a cohesive federal, state or combined local government research and policy lense on its creative and cultural needs. Creative Victoria has identified a significant gap in policy, programming and arts activity in outer urban metro areas including the outer north. When referencing CACD engagement for communities in Melbourne we think of the many arts companies and organisations in Melbourne’s west: Footscray Community Arts Centre, Western Edge Youth Arts, Cohealth Arts Generator, The Bowrey Theatre, Due West Festival, 100 Story Building. The outer north faces extreme disadvantage yet lacks an equivalent arts framework that gives voice to our northern communities.

Our region lacks contemporary and culturally welcoming performing arts venues, has few arts companies and scarce arts infrastructure. From Broadmeadows through the northern most borders of Moreland and Darebin, across and up to Whittlesea you will find outdated performing arts centres. There is very little that consistently engages young people in long term, quality performing arts activity that is developed and then programmed in mainstream and independent arts venues and major festivals.

OUP’s community access programs work with participants 12-27 years of age. 10% of participants present with a disability, 15% are from refugee and newly arrived backgrounds and 90% are culturally and linguistically diverse . 90% are from low-income households and 5% of female participants have experienced pregnancy while still at school.

Outer Urban Projects strategic approach provides access to participation and employment in the performing arts and artistic merit in equal measure. The company provides interlinked pathways for participants and emerging young artists to build their confidence, conceptual prowess, artistic skill and vocabulary and engage with the performing arts in a meaningful way and long-term way.

They include:

COMMUNITY ACCESS:

Outreaching to the furthest points of Melbourne’s outer northern urban rim to engage arts starved, culturally diverse, low socioeconomic young people with open access and targeted performing arts tutorials. Outer Urban Projects provides free weekly tutorials in dance, music and writing for spoken word, rap and poetry workshops across break, hip hop, rap, beat box, signing, writing, music and spoken word genres. The tutorials are open to all young people aged 12-27 and are offered in accessible, supported community settings across the outer north offering participants the opportunity to work along-side established and emerging artist, develop skills in contemporary, street, cultural and classical forms. Outer Urban Projects works closely with key community partners to deliver these open access and targeted tutorials.

CASE STUDY 1: DAMIAN SEDDON 

“I met Outer Urban Projects through their workshops at Reservoir High. I still remember my first day walking through the double doors nervous as dance was very new in my system. The opportunities Outer Urban has offered has helped us to feel our value and boosted our confidence to keep growing as dancers. This support has impacted and shaped me to be the dancer I am today. I have performed in shows like Lord of The Flies and Vessel at the Arts Centre Melbourne. I was also offered free classes with Chunky Move contemporary dance company. I have been tutoring and I choreographed for Youth Alive and Dark Mofo Festival in Tasmania and did a dance scholarship in Los Angeles.”

LINKAGES: 

We link participants and emerging artists into further training and employment internally across all Outer Urban Projects activity and externally with the company’s arts and community partners, fee for service clients and networks.

 

CASE STUDY 2 – RUCI KAISILA

“I got involved with Outer Urban Projects in 2014 and since then I have featured in many of their works and became a tutor in their workshops.

I was recently cast in a major festival show called Anthem where I got to work alongside some of Australia’s most respected writers, directors and actors. The opportunity to be in the workshops and then to audition for the show was made possible by Outer Urban Projects. This show has been one of the most greatest experience as a young professional artist. Coming from the northern suburb of Broadmeadows, I never imagined I’d have these opportunities. I think that’s important because I’m able to set an example for not only Pacific Island kids but also those who’ve grown up in urban “ghetto” areas. We can do so much more than what people think.”

CASE STUDY 3 – JOSEPH SAMARANI

“Outer Urban Projects came to Melbourne Polytechnics (TAFE) when I was studying here in 2015. They gave a talk about their organisation. At first, I was unsure but then when I went and looked at the workshops, I loved it and enrolled in the weekly ones in hip hop and rap every Monday afternoon. Once I applied to do a music course and was rejected because I played the Lebanese Tabla drum. They didn’t think it was a proper instrument. But with OUP it was different.

I got to play my style of music with a live orchestra at the Melbourne Recital Centre, a dream come true. OUP respect the artist and are always there for us. I gig regularly and I’ll be doing a show about my own story and plan to record an album. My career is expanding.”

FEE FOR SERVICE:

Our Fee For Service Projects arm delivers a wide range of repeat workshop, tutorial and performance packages to corporate, government, education, arts, philanthropic and community clients. Packages include Dance Alliance Workshops with genres across hip hop, contemporary, Pasifika, Dancehall, Afrobeat, Latin and Greek; Outer Urban String Quartet, Arabic drumming, singer song writer duos and trios writing and rap workshops.

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