Wearable Arts Festival calls for funds to support artists

Botanical Beauty by Belinda Kuhlewein.

Sunshine Coast-based Australian Wearable Art Festival is counting on the community to support artists and to raise essential funds for the gala competition in May 2022.

Millinery workshops and forums with leading Australian fashion designers and a Halloween fundraiser are just some of the activities they will be putting on in the next year.

It is no secret that the arts industry has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic with a national cross-industry survey conducted by the ABS indicating that between 16 and 23 March 2020 more than half of all arts and recreation businesses had ceased trading – the highest proportion of the 17 industries analysed.

After a COVID-19 enforced-hiatus last year, the Australian Wearable Art Festival team led by curator Wendy Roe, is now firmly focussed on the future and providing a platform for locals and cultural tourists to explore their creativity and be inspired by wearable art.

“There has been a lot of conversation in the last year on how the arts positively impact not only our mental health but our economy. It’s important for us as a community to rally around our artists and place a greater value on the benefit they provide,” Ms Roe said.

“The Australian Wearable Art Festival is a spectacular event that really inspires audiences. It’s unexpected, authentic and a unique showcase of the best wearable art from across Australia.

“While we have not been able to host our gala event this year, we are committed to delivering events that create a fusion of fashion and art, reigniting people’s love affair with wearable art and giving our artists a platform to showcase their own work.

“Our workshops for this year provide opportunities for both artists and art lovers to learn skills such as weaving, papermaking, sculpting and floristry techniques – creating maybe a potential wearable art piece, a fascinator, jewellery or just providing a space to play and get creative.

“We are also excited to be planning a wearable arts forum bringing fashion designers and artists together, a Halloween Ball that encourages people to experiment with costumery and we will also be taking wearable art to Fabrics of Multicultural Australia (FOMA) in Sydney.”

With fundraising and supporting artists as a priority, the Australian Wearable Art Festival was thrilled to become a Sunshine Coast Arts Foundation partner in May this year, enabling the festival to accept donations and provide tax deductibility to its donors.

Chair of the Sunshine Coast Arts Foundation, Professor Jennifer Radbourne, has welcomed the festival’s tenacity and adaptability to grow even through adversity.

“It is already an exceptional local event attracting national attention but extending the event with the newly released program of activities means the Sunshine Coast community will benefit from engaged and dynamic art activity for a whole year not just one event,” Professor Radbourne said.

“The Arts Foundation is aiming to transform the Sunshine Coast community by philanthropic investment in the arts and organisations such as the Australian Wearable Art Festival provide a wonderful opportunity to practically assist the arts to flourish.”

Workshops are already underway with local artists such as Melanie Jeffers who are excited to be sharing their skills.

“As a milliner I see women experimenting with wearable art every time they put their race wear outfit together – the boundaries of art and fashion are often beautifully blurred,” Ms Jeffers said.

“I have been making hats and fascinators for over eleven years and I love pushing those boundaries. I also really enjoy helping people realise their creative vision and see them explore new skills and materials. There is something magical about giving people the freedom to be creative and seeing their excitement when they finish a piece.”

As part of its ‘Healthy. Smart. Creative’ vision for the region, the Sunshine Coast Council is supportive of offering more culturally-based events and Councillor Jason O’Pray encourages the local community to book into a workshop or donate dollars through the Sunshine Coast Art Foundation.

“There are only positive outcomes from supporting events such the ‘Australian Wearable Art Festival’ as we build a community that is rich and colourful,” Cr O’Pray said.

“We hope that these types of events can put the Sunshine Coast on the national cultural tourism map as well as provide unique and different experiences to our locals.”

Workshop tickets start from $60. To find out more about the workshops or how to donate to this project visit http://australianwearableart.com.au/