Arts Program Overview

Ryan New in ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’

The Arts Program creates opportunities for people to develop skills and explore their artistic potential, through workshops, performance, exhibitions and artist development programs.

Information for Participants

Arts Access Victoria runs dynamic and diverse arts projects providing people with a disability the opportunity to create and celebrate art. Projects range from weekly arts programs and workshops, through to special events such as exhibitions and live performances. Participants work alongside professional artists exploring a range of art forms such as filmmaking, animation, costume & set design, puppetry, sculpture, painting, theatre and dance. AAV often works in partnership with community organisations to establish independent locally managed arts projects. All programs are facilitated by professional practicing artists and are fully supported by qualified disability workers.

The aim of each program is that it be ‘participant-driven’, meaning that each member of the group has a say in the artistic direction of the program.

Some of AAV’s regular programs include:

Art Seekers - a visual arts program for adults with a mental health issue living in Melbourne’s Southern Region.

Art Day South – a visual and performing arts program for adults with an intellectual disability, based in Dingley.

Artstop 21 – community art workshops held at The Olive Way, Brunswick. Many of the participants come from Stewart Lodge, a Supported Residential Service in Brunswick.

Experiencing Arts – a once monthly meeting of artists with a disability who together explore and discuss different arts and cultural events in the City of Melbourne, to develop social skills among those involved and inform their own arts practice.

Nebula – Australia’s first portable contemporary arts space created with the needs of artists with a disability at the centre of its design. Nebula can be used as a gallery, workshop / seminar space, performing arts venue or communal meeting space.

Get Out! – a visual and performing arts program for adults with a disability, based in Frankston area.

Way Out West – a visual and performing arts program for adults with an intellectual disability, physical disability or acquired brain injury living in the West or North region of Melbourne.

Information for Artists

We employ many artists, support artists and support workers on our projects.

Artists are generally formally qualified, have a continuing arts practice and have experience working in the community. Support Artists are also qualified artists, but may not have the required experience in the community. The support artist role gives artists the opportunity to work alongside another artist and gain experience.

Support workers are qualified and employed to provided personal care and support to participants who require this level of support.

We offer additional support to artists with a disability, including:

  • advice about finding resources such as funding or facilities (but we are not a funding agency)
  • community arts projects.

Our Artist Directory is a great resource and self-promotion tool for artists seeking employment in community arts projects. Arts Access works in partnership with community-based organisations and is actively involved in steering committees for major arts projects. We are particularly keen to work with organisations in the initiation of pilot projects that will have the opportunity to become independent. Professional arts organisations such as BoilOver Theatre, Weave Movement Theatre, Big Bag Band, Club Wild and Somebody’s Daughter Theatre all commenced with some assistance from Arts Access Victoria.

The Artistic Program is underpinned by a commitment to -

  • the principle of integration: projects with the community through partnerships with professional arts companies, health agencies and other community organisations
  • consultation with participants and artists about the project development
  • identifying, initiating and developing projects with people with the greatest needs

Examples of Recent Projects

We are continually inspired by our artists’ interpretation of the world around them through their art, from turning a suburban netball field into a film set for a ‘spaghetti western’ as in Art Day South’s Head Case, to transforming an oppressive concrete hospital wall into a colourful, evocative mural assisting participants in their recovery from serious mental illness.

A pilot project in partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria, Experiencing Arts provides a unique opportunity for artists with a disability seeking to immerse themselves in Melbourne’s rich arts and cultural scene. Experiencing Arts has proven to be an immensely successful collaborative project, increasing participation by people with disabilities in galleries, theatres, and public art spaces, while helping to heighten awareness on behalf of arts and cultural venues, of the diverse needs of disability groups.

The Way Out West team recently worked on a new artistic project, Fanzine. The Fanzine project documented the Way Out West artists rise as mythical celebrities. This project straddled several diverse arts / performance processes including drawing, painting, photography, collage, song writing, filmmaking and dance choreography.

In 2008, Arts Access partnered with State trustees to co-present Connected™, a contemporary visual arts exhibition showcasing the latest work by Victorian emerging artists with a disability and artists with an experience of mental health illness. In a much-anticipated move, Connected™ was relocated from the Federation Square Atrium to the Art Centre’s Black Box, heightening the event’s profile and also providing better patron accessibility. Artworks by residents from two key Supported Residential Services – Royal Avenue and Belden Lodge – were featured within the show, accompanied by photographic essays of the artists.

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