Marine conservation inspires RADF projects

Published: 07 Dec 2021

Leah McLean’s passion for underwater photography was inspired by the loss of her husband Paul after a five-year battle with brain cancer.

“The ocean was the place I ran to daily when I needed to scream or just feel calm,” Ms McLean said.

“And, quite authentically, I developed this passion for underwater photography and for protecting the ocean,” she said.

Ms McLean now plans to produce an abstract underwater photography exhibition titled Big Calm that will take the viewer into “an extraordinary world where there are no limits, only emotions”.

This week, council approved a $8500 Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) Green Arts grant for the project.

What’s even more exciting, according to RADF Committee chair Cr Fran Mann, is Leah’s daughter Rachel, a Bachelor of Film graduate, also received a $5000 grant to shoot a documentary on the creation of the exhibition.

This documentary will then run with the exhibition at regional galleries and possibly on tour.

Cr Mann said it was heart-warming for RADF to be able to support both mother and daughter in projects that were both cathartic for them and inspirational to our community.

“The committee is really excited to see these linked projects come to fruition,” she said.

In total, this funding round, the first for the financial year, awarded $74,493 to 12 projects.

The largest grant, to the tune of $10,000, was awarded to the Rhythm and The Reef single-day boutique music, arts and action sports festival.

According to event organiser James Slade, Rhythm and The Reef will feature premier musicians, bands, DJs, visual artists and involve more than 50 local small businesses.

“As we endeavour to enhance the experience of our patrons and our ability to give back to organisations that reduce the impact of marine debris, we are initiating a ‘Green Art’ program,” Mr Slade said.

“In doing so, we are aiming to acquire the assistance of local and national visual artists in creating an ‘underwater world’ for our audience,” he said.

“This program will involve the creation of unique, reef-themed art displays made from recycled products, ranging from stand-alone pieces to live graffiti and painted work performances.

“Furthermore, we will use the garbage/debris found on local beaches to build the stand-alone art displays, bringing awareness to the types of waste found along our waterways.

“We will then donate the pieces to Reef Clean, which can use the funds raised to assist with more beach clean-up programs.”

RADF is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Mackay Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

The complete list of projects receiving funding also includes:

  • Azure Glass - $4509 to build a kiln specific for fused glass work
  • Tiffany Grace Music - $3900 towards recording a debut EP
  • Walkabout Oz Project Development - $5000 to develop designs to promote tourism in my region (Walkerabout Oz is behind the “biggest pair of thongs” created in the Calen Pub beer garden)
  • Susanne McPhee - $3500 for a twelve-week adult wellbeing sewing and storytelling through quilts workshop program at George Street Neighbourhood Community Centre
  • Catherine Clark Dowden - $5000 to research the viability of developing a horse-float with living area to travel out west to regional country towns to teach and exhibit art.
  • Jodie Connolly Artist - $8690 to develop the concept of a sustainable program to engage young people within the Youth Justice System in the arts
  • Mack Pop Con - $8630 towards Mack Pop Con 2022, a large scale, one day, accessible and inclusive Pop Culture Convention held in Mackay and the Whitsundays
  • Bucasia Community Kindergarten - $4714 towards employing a local artist to assist the kindy children to create a body of work to exhibit during Child Protection Week
  • The Valley Theatrical Players Inc - $7050 towards a 50th Anniversary Reunion and curated book

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government was investing $2.08 million through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) in 2021-22, matched with a contribution of approximately $2.3 million from 59 councils across the state.

“RADF is a great example of working together to deliver our COVID-19 economic recovery plan, supporting employment opportunities and creating new arts and cultural experiences in local and regional communities,” Minister Enoch said.

“RADF in 2021-2022 will provide valuable social, health and economic outcomes for regional Queenslanders, and support our government’s 10-year arts roadmap priorities to strengthen Queensland communities, activate local places and drive social change across the state,” she said.

“Our investment complements the Palaszczuk Government’s wider commitment to regional arts, including continued support of $6 million over four years for the Regional Arts Services Network.”