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Grant boost set to uncover untold stories

A CONTEMPORARY performance company in the heart of Hobart has received a $10,000 Westpac Foundation Rural Community Grant to provide employment, education and training support for some of Tasmania’s most vulnerable.

Second Echo Ensemble was established about 15-years-ago as a contemporary performance company that trained and employed artists living with a disability to allow these individuals to create high quality art that challenged assumptions and stereotypes to tell untold stories.

“Our mission is to create opportunities for people living with access challenges to be a part of the cultural narrative, a part of the stories that we tell and that we see,” Second Echo Ensemble creative director Kelly Drummond Cawthon said.

“We have artists living with intellectual disability, with physical challenges or just plain old life challenges that we train and employ to create performances.”

Ms Drummond Cawthon said the grant would help support its Pathways to Work Program, which trained and employed people living with a disability into the creative workforce.

“It’s going to employ one part-time employee over a year who identifies with a disability, and then we’ll scaffold around them any training they may need to maintain that employment for the year,” she said.

“The grant will help us address the barriers which prevent artists with a disability from realising their ambitions, and enable us to create more opportunities to give a voice to the stories that aren’t being heard.”

The rural grant was delivered by the Westpac Foundation in partnership with the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR), with $1 million awarded to 100 local not-for-profits across Australia.

Westpac Foundation chief executive officer Susan Bannigan said the rural grants were designed to provide assistance for those in rural areas who had faced a particularly challenging year.

“Supporting organisations focused on employment, education and training is at the heart of our strategy, and by partnering with FRRR, this enabled us to leverage their expertise in rural, regional and remote areas and extend our reach to help these communities in need,” she said.

FRRR chief executive officer Natalie Egleton said rural and regional communities played a vital role in Australia’s prosperity and vibrancy.

“They are facing continuing challenges to growth and development – from drought, to bushfires, to floods, and now COVID-19,” she said.

“Targeted financial support for education, training and employment pathways is critical during these times, particularly for vulnerable groups.

“Through the Rural community Grants program, FRRR and Westpac Foundation are proud to back local groups to improve the opportunities within their communities so they can continue to prosper.”

In addition to the funding, all grant recipients will receive pro bono support and access to leadership development programs, legal support, and financial capability training via Westpac’s Changemaker program.

For more information on the Westpac Foundation Community Grants program and recipients, visit www.westpacfoundation.org.au.

Caption: From left, Michael Fortescue and Matthew Fargher during the creative process. Photo credit: Kelly Drummond Cawthon.

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