Monday, August 17, 2009



Environmental art project grants - $13,000

Can arts make a difference to the environment?

If you are an emerging artist under the age of 26 that works with visual art as a means to promote the environment and sustainability, than you may be interested in trying for a slice of this rather generous pie.

Queensland Conservation and the Australia Council are working towards creating a number of unique projects fusing the world of the arts and activism.

What a novel idea!

Utilising the artist as a catalyst for change, and change as a catalyst for the artist, the grant promises to give support and training in association with Feral Arts in Brisbane ( Such is the need for promoting sustainable environmental ideologies to diversified audiences, art is generally a medium that appeals (in some form or other) to just about everyone in every culture.

$A15 000 (including $2000 for travel) in mentorships will be awarded to deserving young emerging artists to raise environmental challenges in their work. Artists will be involved and mentored by environmental activists to learn about issues ranging from climate change to biodiversity conservation. The end result to be a magnificent work or works that will bring together the environment, community and creativity.

From the press release:

Ryan Dillon, Queensland Conservation Executive Member says the HELM-Arts (Healthy Environment Leadership Mentoring) project is innovative because it helps develop a new generation of artistic leadership.

“This project will expose, train and support young artists and shape them into effective leaders who can advocate for a sustainable world through their art,” Dillon says.

“Queensland Conservation, the peak body for more than 60 environmental groups in Queensland, is well placed to build closer links with the art sector,” Dillon states, “and we are hoping to attract nominations from a broad range of artists, geographical locations and ethnic backgrounds.”

“We created the term HELM-Arts as we feel it is up to young people to take the helm and lead the way with environmental change,” Dillon says.

The Art Action Union had a discussion with Ryan Dillon about art challenging environmental education.

We discussed how the mentorship grants will help these young emerging artists bloom.

Ryan said in a manner of speaking, “the good thing is that it’s a partnership with the Queensland Conservation Council/Australia Council and Feral Arts, two of the best and most well networked environmental and arts organisations in this region. We hope the project will network people from all over the country to create outcomes in Queensland and cross-train arts activists with direct hands on experience to create an ‘eco arts space’ to be watched and anticipated.”

I like the way Ryan used the term ‘eco arts space’ it creates a vision of a new and necessary arts culture. A microcosmic and specialised art form that has purpose and reward.

We discussed what will happen with the work once it is finished? How will the work be used as an education tool for awareness beyond the initial grant timeframe?

Mr. Dillon had a very strong idea that it was open for interpretation.

“Given the diversity of artists that we are expecting to see apply for this opportunity, it really will be up to the discretion of the successful artist. All artists will have their merits measured against the same criteria but that doesn’t mean that we will have a set idea about what type of work it will be and how it will be finished. The artists must demonstrate professionalism but it is up to them to prove that they have the best plans in arts education for sustainable environment and the best way of presenting it for long-term educational and arts benefits.

We are looking for art that is provocative and emotionally engaging, hopefully the viewer will see the art and want to get involved actively with climate change. The main motivation behind the HELM terminology is to provide a vision for young people to form their ideas around leadership in this area. They are at the HELM of the Titanic with the iceberg [ironic ‘cause really they are melting] looming in the near distance, the artist has to steer that ship with creative thinking to take a new course and not crash. To engage a new audience through new networks. It is up to the artists to decide what is provocative.”

Thanks to Ryan for his time and patience with my dodgy technology.

It is hoped that the HELM-Arts project will become an annual arts grant event.

Further about the initiative is available online at is available online at:

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