An Artist in Residence program for regional schools is about to launch in the Shoalhaven - and could become statewide.
Meticulously planned by a working party of Shoalhaven artists, teachers and community members, the pilot program is set to launch in May, with the first school being the North Nowra Public School.
It is designed to embed artists in four primary and two pre-schools to expose students to artistic practices, while providing a platform for local artists to showcase their work and be employed.
The program is the brainchild of Jenny Thompson, member of the Shoalhaven City Council Arts Board, who believes every regional student should have the opportunity to engage in art.
"If you think about some of these small towns in regional Australia, some of them don't even have a cinema or an orchestra or even a library," she said.
"So this is a way of introducing them to the arts so it feels familiar, and so they feel confident. Art shouldn't be an elite thing, it's a part of our everyday lives."
New South Wales is the only state in Australia that does not have an Artist in Residence program as a part of education in schools.
The project will be supported by research assessing impact on students, teachers, stakeholders and communities to feed into a future expansion across the Shoalhaven and Kiama LGAs, and eventually throughout regional NSW.
Principal Researcher and Project Coordinator Dr Lynda Kelly for the program will evaluate the benefits of art for students to present to the government.
"It benefits students in terms of their learning and literacy, being able to work in teams and think critically," said Dr Kelly.
"It can also boost their confidence by showing them they are able to actually do art."
Ideally, the program will hire local artists to visit schools.
Nowra artist Kerrie Williams welcomes the pilot program and said her past experience working in schools has had a positive impact for students.
"Kids enjoy it, I worked at Camberwarra recently and the kids had so many questions about colours and how you can get something from this to that to make something look real, and as an artist I was able to answer," she said.
"They loved it so much, they didn't want to let me go."
Having received two thirds of the funding for the pilot program, the working party extends their thanks to Nowra Rotary, the NSW Department of Education, Shoalhaven City Council, Shoalhaven Regional Gallery and the Bomaderry Community Inc Executive Committee.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.