Based in the Illawarra region, Gathering Ground aims to build social connection and foster inter-cultural, inter-generational communication and learning between diverse groups of women, girls and children who may be experiencing isolation and marginalisation. It provides these groups with access to community facilities, resources, and skills development opportunities, while building a creative platform from which they can have a voice in the broader community.
The program is located within a community development and social justice context where it prioritises engagement with women, girls and children living in the most disadvantaged suburbs of the Illawarra, including women who have experienced violence; immigrant and refugee women and children; older women and carers; and women and children in the Indigenous community.
In this context the program promotes collaborative creative processes and cross-art form practices, combining storytelling, performance, song, dance, visual art and fibre art. These processes have led to the co-production by community artists and participants of new creative work in various art-forms, as well as large-scale multi art productions, reflecting women’s stories, aspirations and diverse cultures.
Gathering Ground is an initiative of Wollongong Women’s Information Service (WWIS). The program also relies on strong partnerships with organisations across the welfare, health, education, local government and cultural sectors. Gathering Ground acknowledges the financial support from the federal government through the Australia Council for the Arts and from the NSW government through Create NSW.
Gathering Ground is coordinated by Therese Quinn, the Community and Cultural Development Worker of WWIS. Over a twenty-year period, Therese has developed the Gathering Ground practice framework based on collaborative, cross-art form processes and a model of creative co-production with community participants. As a trained multi-arts practitioner herself, Therese has nurtured a multi-disciplinary team of artists and CACD practitioners, with expertise and professional training across a range of art-forms, who work with her in this community based context.
Denise Thomas (song-writing and performance) and Lucia Parrella (visual arts and creative writing) have been key contributors to Gathering Ground over an extended period. Jane Aubourg (composer, violinist and media artist) and Nina Kourea (visual arts and photography) joined the team in 2018 and are undertaking mentorships as community cultural development practitioners. Sheree Rankmore provided Indigenous cultural development advice to the Gathering Ground team. Caz Nowaczyk provided film making and photography assistance.