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​Coastal Connections’ is one of 135 projects to have received funding through the Bass Coast Shire Council Resilience Grants Program COVID 19, announced during the week beginning July 13, 2020.

The project is a response to the impact of COVID-related social isolation and hardship in the community. The aim of the ‘Coastal Connections’ project is to support a process of community reconnection, resilience and recovery, bringing people together through a framework of creative engagement and intercultural collaborations.

The Coastal Connections project is designed for COVID times, bringing people together through creative collaborations that respect social distancing requirements. Community members will have an opportunity to collaborate across different artforms and cultures.

Project activities include creative writing, musical composition and film-making, with a focus on the local natural environment. The project will result in an exhibition and the development of seven short films about local people and their special places. The new works will showcase the community’s creative gifts and the beauty of its local natural environment.


Special Green and Blue Places: A Creative Writing Invitation

Community members are invited to contribute short pieces of creative writing (150 words or less) about a place that is special to them in the natural environment of Bass Coast, with an accompanying photograph or artwork of the place. Six pieces of writing will be selected as the subject for six 3-minute films, for which original musical compositions will be commissioned. Thirty pieces of writing will be selected for inclusion in an exhibition which will be displayed across libraries in Bass Coast. A selection of contributions will also be published in the Bass Coast Post and The Waterline News, as well as through other local communication outlets.

A seventh 15-minute film, also with original music, will be produced about the natural environment of the Bass Coast region and will incorporate and extend elements of the 6 short films. The films will provide an enduring legacy for educational and environmental purposes and make a positive contribution to local ecotourism.

The ‘Coastal Connections’ project is being hosted by the Gippsland Singers Network and its auspicing body, Community Music Victoria (CMVic), both of which have extensive experience in facilitating broad community outreach and being responsive to the social distancing requirements of COVID regulations.

Jane Coker is a Singing Leader with the Gippsland Singers Network and Community Music Victoria. ‘I have been a Community Music facilitator my whole adult life’, she says.

‘I believe that music takes us to a primal place where we are able to recognise our collective potential. Music gives us a voice to express what we are feeling and puts us in touch with ourselves, our grief and our humanity.’

Jane leads a number of choirs in the Gippsland region and facilitates the Climate Calamity Choir, which brings together people from Gippsland and beyond. During the COVID era, she has switched to facilitating community singing on-line.

‘There are many changes we are dealing with in our society’, Jane says, ‘and we need to develop creative, nurturing ways of dealing with them.’

The Gippsland Singers Network and Community Music Victoria have successfully managed a number of intercultural and environmental arts projects in the Bass Coast region, including Harmony Day in Wonthaggi 2018 and the Island Whale Festivals in 2018 and 2019. Since 2017, Community Music Victoria has been hosting an annual Music Camp at Grantville. In line with COVID restrictions, the 2020 Music Camp was conducted on-line, culminating in an ‘Extraordinary Virtual Street Band Parade’, led by Inverloch-based community musicians Lyndal Chambers and Brian ‘Strat’ Strating.

The ‘Coastal Connections’ project will be coordinated by Dr Laura Brearley, who has been facilitating community arts projects in the Bass Coast region since 2012. ‘Community participation will be warmly welcomed in the project’ she says.

‘The design of the project draws on the links between community well-being, creative engagement and connection to the natural world. We are looking forward to bringing people together in creative and sustaining ways, with the community collaborating across different artforms and cultures.’ -  Dr Laura Brearley

A working group, drawn from a cross-section of the community, will steer the project. Members of the group will decide on a selection of pieces of creative writing for incorporation into the short films, the library exhibition and for future publication.

Working group members are:

  • Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir – Boon Wurrung Elder and language specialist, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL)
  • Cr Geoff Ellis – Bass Coast Shire Deputy Mayor, Councillor, Editor, The Waterline News
  • Matua (Uncle) Arnold Tihema – Maori Elder, cultural advisor, singer and multi-instrumentalist
  • Rev Ian Turnnidge – Minister, St John’s Uniting Church, Cowes
  • Jon Dixon – Manager, Wonthaggi Branch, West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation
  • Anne Davie AOM – Co-chair Bass Coast/South Gippsland Reconciliation Group, conservationist, advocate for refugees and arts
  • Jan Bourne – Former coordinator, Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre
  • Dr Oli Hinton - Coordinator, Community Music Victoria
  • John Howard –Secretary, Community Music Victoria
  • Terry Melvin – Film-maker, photographer, former psychologist
  • Dr Laura Brearley – Project coordinator, creative researcher, singing leader, Gippsland Singers Network


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