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Rainbow set to be transformed

Rainbow was among six towns announced on Saturday 28th May set to be transformed by the Victorian Government’s Small Town Transformations program and Regional Arts Victoria. The town received $350,000 for their project The Oasis: Creativity on the Fringe of the Desert Small Town Transformation.

When organisers were coming up with the idea for the project, they kept thinking about how Rainbow sits on the edge of the desert, which makes it quite remote. Yet it is home to so many creative and colourful people and stories. In the main street there is a strip of green grass and palm trees, as well as a Rainbow sculpture. It looks a lot like an Oasis. Surrounding the main street though there is desert stretching out into the distance. Organisers really wanted to play on that idea, and create a space where the people from Rainbow and visitors could come and enjoy this creative and vibrant culture despite the town being quite remote and isolated. It is hoped that this will encourage fresh new creative work and a coming together of the community in a space that is fertile and thriving, just like an Oasis in the middle of the desert. The goal and artistic vision of this project is to revitalise and transform the old primary school building and grounds, on the corner of Bow and King streets, into a vibrant location for an inclusive creative experience for the town and visitors to the town. The building will be a place where people can make, share and exhibit art in many different ways. There is a strong focus on art practices that are collaborative, like dance, movement, music and performance. The school is connected to the Rainbow Artist in Residence program and the local art gallery and in combination will create a strong creative facility for local artists and community members.

The project will turn the grounds into a community space that reflects the landscape, ancestral cultures and local narrative and will do this through a program of unique and inclusive collaborative events and workshops at the school site. The Oasis will draw upon important histories from Aboriginal groups, new cultures from visiting South-East Asian artists and local narratives from the past and present.

The first program to be held is called ‘The Desert Garden’ and reflects on the environmental aspect of the area. In this program the organisers will focus on different flora that can withstand the harsh conditions of this region to create a space that is inspiring and colourful for the community. This Desert Garden also works strongly with the Aboriginal community in the area to uncover and remake a series of Aboriginal artefacts found on local properties in the area. This is a way to show how the environment and landscape are unique around Rainbow, and contain many stories and histories.

The second program is called ‘The Embodied Landscape’ and will focus more on the spiritual quality of the environment around Rainbow. In this program visitors to the Rainbow Artist in Residence program from an equally remote tropical location in Indonesia will create new work in collaboration with a local Aboriginal dance group. There will be field trips out to the desert and then work will be presented in an event at the school site. This will focus on how the spirit and essence of the area around Rainbow and how that is deeply connected to the land.

The final program is called ‘The Way Out West’ and reflects on many of the local narratives from the town. Even though Rainbow is remote it has always attracted quite eccentric and colourful characters, and organisers really wanted to pay tribute to these people in the project. Organisers feel that that is a really special feature of Rainbow as everyone can remember all the quirky and interesting characters that have lived in the town dating back generations. In this program there will be a performance and music festival where the town will produce a play that reflects on these characters and then hold a music festival where people will come from far and wide to experience the musical talent that can be found in Rainbow. This will show the way local people contribute to Rainbow feeling like an Oasis, as they really bring the place to life.

It is hoped that the project will commence in August 2016, when the renovations will get underway for the remainder of the year.

“We will be having a series of public meetings to explain more about the project in the coming months. Anyone who would like to know more about the project is welcome to come along and hear more about it,” Project Leader Alison Ey said.

“From this project the township of Rainbow will be transformed into a fertile and inclusive hub for creativity and connectedness,” Alison said.

Hindmarsh Shire Mayor Debra Nelson said the news was fantastic for Rainbow and Council was behind the project 100 percent.

The Small Town Transformations is a Victorian Government Initiative. Regional Arts Victoria inspires art across the state. Through creative facilitation, touring, education, specialised resources and advocacy, they develop and sustain creative communities and artistic practice all over Victoria.

News items courtesy of the Rainbow Jeparit Argus.

Article posted: Friday, June 3, 2016.

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