The Newcastle Big Draw


Yesterday I went to the Big Draw with Alexa and some friends. It was a great example of community engagement organised by Newcastle City Council.

There were seven venues with 21 activities nearly all of which involved people (mostly kids) being actively involved in hands-on activities.

It was all free and brought heaps of families into the city. There was a great variety of activities which catered for kids and more experienced artists (but we only went to the ones for kids).

Some of the activities were little workshops. One we went to was based on the work of Alison Lester, where kids created a picture based on the antarctic for an imaginary book cover.

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Some activities involved developing a group work or a series of works, like these stencils in Wheeler Place.

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Interestingly although this was a public art event organised by Council, apparently some other part of Council expected this work to be washed off at the end of the day. It’s such a shame when different parts of an organisation can’t seem to work together.

Some of the activities involved artists largely directing the process, like this recreation of a work of art in the gallery (on the left).

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In some activities there was a range of materials and an idea (e.g., to create a bird) and kids were free to do what they want.

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Newcastle Council is facing a serious spending cuts, and so it will be interesting to see whether this event happens again next year. I really hope so. It wasn’t cheap to put on but it also wasn’t all that expensive.  (I suspect if it was run again next year, sponsors might be willing to come on board to help cover the cost.)  These types of events help create a vibrant city and bring people together: I think they are quite valuable. I guess the question is how much are we willing to pay for a strong vibrant community, and is this the best way to do it?

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The City of Newcastle




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About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Personal, Working with communities and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Newcastle Big Draw

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice blog Graeme. I’ll be happy to bring it to the attention of the big draw project group. We were able to leave the pavement art in place for a couple of weeks. Once it starts to look untidy we’ll wash it off. Newcastle Now & L!vesites have offered to exhibit the collaborative artworks at Nobbys Lighthouse in a couple of weeks (in the old signal master’s cottage). It is so rewarding to see so many organisations working together in the name of art.


    • Graeme says:

      Great to hear that it was left there for a while – I wonder how it is standing up to all the rain – and great that some of the other collaborative works will be displayed. We certainly had a wonderful day. I think everybody involved deserves to be congratulated.


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