Clockwise from top-left: Creative artists Tibian Wyles, Blake Rhodes and Katina Olsen run online workshops; Blake and Mitch from Dream Bigger wrapping up the series.
The team at Dream Bigger have been busy adapting and creating to stay connected with youth through the pandemic, running dance and music workshops online.
Dream Bigger is the Youth Program branch of Rekindling the Spirit, a Lismore based service for Aboriginal people and their extended families, providing services for their health and well-being.
Creative producers Mitch King and Blake Rhodes help to build connections between young people and their peers, their families and their community through sharing creativity and performing art skills, helping them to build self-worth and resilience.
In January, the team gave young people a creative welcome to 2020 before the school term kicked off. Providing a space for them to share and create stories among each other, Mitch and Blake helped participants explore ideas through movement and sound to help them reach set goals.
“The first week began with dance workshops, with the intention to look at how we acknowledge country through our bodies and take this idea away within our own environments,” said Mitch.
This was followed with music workshops at the Northern Rivers Conservatorium of Music, helping the kids question and understand what Australia Day means to them. By the end of the second week, the group had penned and recorded five new tracks. Mitch and Blake were energised to create the next round of workshops for the Autumn school holidays – then the pandemic hit and they were forced to quickly adapt.
With a target audience of 12 – 18 years, they knew social media would be an effective way to both maintain and expand the reach of their programs.
The team rallied six highly skilled creatives from across Australia with extensive backgrounds in electronic, R&B, dance cabaret and indigenous contemporary work. Each artist delivered their own unique style of workshops from within their homes or another safe place. This opened participants up to some amazing skills around music production, workflow, and diverse creative processes.
“We wanted to connect to the platform of social media so that we could become a resource of well-being through creative productivity – especially during a time of isolation,” said Mitch.
“What we realised was that it could be a great way of connecting people that may feel anxious in a group environment and would be more inclined to experience what we deliver in a space where they feel more comfortable.”
“So far in 2020 we’ve seen a lot going on in the world – with bushfires throughout Australia, the COVID19 pandemic and the very recent movement Black Lives Matter – which connects to the black deaths in custody here within our own country.”
“With a majority of the participants being of indigenous background we aim to build resilience within themselves not just for that moment through the workshop but to also carrying afterwards into their everyday lives,” said Mitch.
“In a time where they feel like their country, health and skin colour is being attacked, we want them to acknowledge that they have a voice and can express it through the mind, body and soul while also standing up for others and for what is right.”
The Creative Skills Intensive Program, funded by a 2020 NRCF Community Grant, is run during school holidays in the Lismore area. Recordings of the April Creative Skills Intensive workshops can be accessed here.