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Local Arts Program Priority Grant - Aboriginal Education

Local arts program Public schools Dance Drama Music Visual arts

NSW public schools are invited to apply for a Local Arts Program Priority Grant for 2023 to support the development and implementation of targeted arts-based projects that address the goals of the Aboriginal education strategy and policy.

From 2023, targeted local arts grants will be available to fund projects over 3 years that address specified department priorities through the arts.

Up to 5 grants of $35,000 will be available for Aboriginal arts education projects for networks of schools or groups of networks. Each community of schools will nominate an arts program to be developed as a collaboration between the community of schools, The Arts Unit and local Aboriginal Education and Wellbeing teams. Grant funding will be distributed as follows:             

  • $15,000 in the first year
  • $10,000 in the second year
  • $10,000 in the third year.

Projects will be encouraged to work towards self-sufficiency after 3 years. However, with evidence of impact and a demonstrated need across the state, projects may be considered for centralised funding and expansion into other school networks.

How to apply

Applications are now open!

Complete the Local Arts Program Priority Grant – Aboriginal Education application form to apply.

  • Applications close at 5:00 pm on Friday 3 March 2023 (Term 1 Week 6)
  • Successful applicants will be notified Friday 24 March 2023 (Term 1 Week 9)
  • Grant funds will be provided to the managing school by Term 2 Week 1

Application conditions

Consistent evaluation of programs ensures that local arts programs receiving priority grants are sustainable and impactful. Each year program coordinators will be responsible for providing the following:

  • budget and acquittal of grant expenditure
  • evidence of impact, including participant survey data, focus groups and/or interviews demonstrating how the program is meeting priority and arts education outcomes.

Ongoing funding after 3 years may be considered for programs identified as successful in meeting identified student outcomes.

Arts activities that support the Aboriginal education strategy and policy

Aboriginal education strategy and policy consists of several key department policies and strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

In consultation with the Aboriginal Education team, The Arts Unit is seeking to fund and facilitate arts programs and opportunities that: (see Turning Policy into Action)

  • are developed from quality partnerships between education sectors, local Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders (NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated (NSW AECG) and local AECGs), characterised by listening and responding, strong accountability and active engagement, collaborative information sharing and informed decision making. (Relationships)
  • provide, in partnership with Aboriginal people and communities, quality teaching by skilled educators who are culturally competent in the local context, setting high expectations for students through learning that incorporates Aboriginal perspectives to be engaging, relevant and culturally appropriate. (Engagement)
  • promote education and training as a lifelong pursuit by supporting Aboriginal students at critical stages of their education to improve engagement, retention and attainment and develop the skills to participate fully in schooling, society and meaningful and rewarding employment. (Ongoing learning)

Arts Education Outcomes

Every program MUST address one or more of the student outcomes in addition to any other outcomes selected.

Focus Outcome
Students 1.    Improvement in specific skills
  2.    Increased sense of cultural identity, engagement and wellbeing 
  3.    Extension for high potential and gifted students and development of career pathways
Teachers 4.    Improved skills and confidence
  5.    Professional networks and access ongoing support
Schools 6.    High quality arts education for improved learning and increased profile
Systems 7.    Equitable access to arts experiences for all students

Examples of programs that support the Aboriginal education strategy and policy

  • Dance ensemble - Aboriginal students from NSW public schools are invited to audition for a dance ensemble. Students will work with industry leaders in monthly rehearsals culminating in performance opportunities. The program aims to create a space for cultural exchange and exploration of Aboriginal stories and histories through movement, leading to an increased sense of belonging and community after working collaboratively in the arts over an extended period.
  • Vocal ensemble Aboriginal students from NSW public schools are invited to audition for a vocal ensemble. Students will work with industry professionals in monthly rehearsals before culminating in a professional recording and performance, as well as having the opportunity to audition for future showcases. The program aims to enhance the vocal talents of young Aboriginal people through the study of vocal technique, the building of confidence to perform publicly, and skill development to plan for future goals in vocal performance.
  • Drama ensemble This program is for Aboriginal students in NSW secondary public schools. Students will listen to and respond to stories from community members, elders and families. From this experience, they will work with experts to develop their skills in traditional and contemporary cultural storytelling techniques, creating a play-built piece that will be performed at a local event and included in local and state drama festivals. The aim of this program is to provide a platform for students to privilege and promote Aboriginal knowledge and culture to a wide audience.
  • Visual arts professional learning - Visual arts teachers are invited to participate in a visual arts professional learning opportunity hosted in collaboration with a regional art gallery. Through a series of workshops, staff will have the opportunity to work closely with Aboriginal artists to develop relevant and authentic learning programs for students in preschool to Year 12. Later in the year, participating schools will exhibit artworks created as a result of the program. The aim of this program is to influence the authentic inclusion of Aboriginal culture in visual arts teaching and learning programs for all students, as well as connect teachers to local Aboriginal artists in their community. Engaging with local artists to provide authentic visual arts learning experiences to students can create deep engagement through culturally relevant programs.
  • Visual arts campStudents are invited to engage with Country and work with specialist art teachers and local artists to create artworks from a variety of mediums in this residential visual arts program. The aim of this program is to enhance the cultural well-being of Aboriginal students through authentic and relevant teaching, both in context and content.
  • Photography project - Secondary students are invited to engage with Country and work with professional photographers to document local landscapes and produce a collective body of work. With guidance from local stakeholders, including NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, students will explore and connect to Country. They may print a collection of images for sale to raise money for local land care and cultural initiatives. The aim of this program is to immerse students on Country and to engage them in an accessible art form with a commercial application, contributing to the development of post-school pathways.
  • Aboriginal histories and culture through the arts - This program will provide students from preschool to Year 6 with the opportunity to explore Aboriginal culture and histories through the arts. Students will engage in a variety of dance, drama, music and visual art activities contextualised to their local area. Through Aboriginal pedagogies, students will explore traditional and contemporary forms of storytelling, expression through voice, movement and dance and art-making practices. The one/two-day workshop will be led by local Aboriginal artists and elders within the community and/or industry professionals. The program aims to develop a sense of belonging and identity. Students are encouraged to develop their leadership skills by sharing what they have learnt with their peers back at school. Opportunities exist for a showcase of student work at the end of the workshop day.
  • Local stories - This program will employ a local Aboriginal elder to supply a stimulus through storytelling for students from schools on Country. Through a series of workshops led by local Aboriginal artists and facilitated by arts educators, a movement-based response would be play built and choreographed simultaneously creating a local Aboriginal performing ensemble.The creative work produced would be presented as a performance at the conclusion of the workshops, could be used for inclusion to audition for local and/or state dance and drama festivals. With the permission and acknowledgement of the people involved, the story and creative works could be used to create a resource for use in local schools to learn and perform local Aboriginal stories. This program aims to celebrate local culture, engage Aboriginal students in deep learning and share the knowledge and understanding of the histories, cultures and experiences through skill building with all students.


Jenny Beachum
Arts Strategy and Programs Coordinator
The Arts Unit