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Art builds resilience of communities affected by climate change

AN innovative research project at the University of Tasmania has investigated how art programs can contribute to building the resilience of communities vulnerable to climate change.

The project team, led by Tasmanian nominee for Young Australian of the Year Patrick Kirby, along with associate professor Elaine Stratford and Canadian community artist and social worker Hannah Poon, conducted art workshops with the Rakhaine Community of Bangladesh in July this year.

The artworks created at the community workshops were displayed at a public exhibition at Frankie’s Empire Coffee House in Hobart recently.

The research forms part of Patrick Kirby’s PhD investigating the role of culture in community-based adaption to climate change.

Mr Kirby said as a method of reinforcing local values, ethics and belief systems, art was making a real difference to the community.

“Through reflection, storytelling and art making, Rakhaine participants expressed a greater connection with their culture and community,” he said.

“They felt empowered by their own inherent strengths and personal capacities to adapt, cope and build resilience to current and future environmental stresses.

“It is evident that the programs have provided an enriching and enjoyable experience for the Rakhaine community members to come together and build relations of trust, cohesion and solidarity.”

The event is a celebration of the community art programs and will feature presentations from the project team along with an auction of Rakhaine artwork to raise funds for future community art programs.

A book capturing the art and stories from the Rakhaine community was also launched at the event.

Titled “Art as Adaptation? Cultural Storytelling from the Rakhaine of Bangladesh”, the book is a celebration of the community’s art and stories, which ran at Frankie’s until 6 November.

Copies of the book can be purchased by contacting Patrick Kirby at kirkbypat@gmail.com

The project is funded by the University of Tasmania’s Arts Environment Research Group.

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