Partnerships and collaboration at the heart of ReFill

ReFILL students listening and learning with Vincent McManus CuriousWorks. Photo: courtesy CuriousWorks.

ReFILL students listening and learning with filmaker Vincent McManus. Photo: courtesy CuriousWorks.

If there’s a shining example of how the public and private sectors can work together, then ReFill is it.

Initiated in 2006 as part of a national project called Generations, ReFill has evolved into a creative industries mentoring and skills development project for disadvantaged youth (Years 7 and 10) run in Liverpool.  Now in 2015, ReFill is delivered through a partnership between Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC), CuriousWorks, Miller Technology High School, Liverpool City Council and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) with funding from Arts NSW and Crown Resorts Foundation Ltd (part of the Crown Resorts Western Sydney Arts Initiative).  Khaled Sabsabi, CPAC’s Creative Producer has been the driving project manager in partnership with Miller Technology High School’s teacher and student voice advocate, Sally Atkins over the past nine years.

ReFill aims to develop the talents of young people in the Liverpool area, who may struggle to gain such creative opportunities. This year, ReFill is specifically focusing on engaging culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) students, including those who have recently settled in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island young people.

ReFill supports young people from Miller to use technology in innovative and exciting ways, interact positively the wider community and access creative resources of the city. Established artists run workshops covering performing arts, video-making, new media technologies and the visual arts.  Next year, this will extend to writing, recording and music production. These creative workshops help participants learn new creative skills, teamwork and positive ways of communication. The workshops also aim to celebrate different cultural backgrounds, showcase positive role models and encourage interaction across the year groups.

The program includes outreach excursions, Holiday creative labs in 2015 and 2016 and a major visual arts exhibition at CPAC in 2017.

This year, the anchor artist working on ReFill is Vincent McManus, a community filmmaker with twenty years of experience working with young film-makers. Caitlin Newton-Broad, CuriousWorks Community Director, is running the project along with filmmaker and cultural leader Guido Gonzalez.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney’s CBD joined ReFill in 2015 as a project partner providing a pathway for students to go outside their immediate learning environment and experience different art forms, helping to unleash their creativity. The artists/educators from MCA’s Learning Centre are inspiring artists in their own right, with strong hands-on techniques for exploring the contemporary arts through the Museum’s extensive collection.

The high calibre of partners and their generosity in making sure the program delivers the best outcomes for the young people involved in the program, has resulted in creative thinking, flexibility and co-operation between the project participants and partners.

Miller Technology High School is leading the pack when it comes to promoting diversity in the arts during ReFill. Miller students involved in ReFill and other arts programs have joined Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and CuriousWorks as artists. This is a valuable return on investment in terms of employment and career outcomes for young people through participation in arts and culture in the school environment.

Participation by children and young people in arts has direct benefits in terms of student engagement, self-confidence and motivation with positive effects on achievements. Exposure to creative artists will benefit learning outcomes for young people and benefit teachers by exposing them to fresh teaching methods, support classroom engagement and contributes to the current teaching approaches in the school curriculum.

ReFill has helped forge closer relationships between the arts and local government sectors, and shows the connection between cultural vitality and community sustainability.


The Generations Project (2006-2009) was supported by: Arts NSW, Australia Council for the Arts, Regional Arts Fund, Community Support Fund, Arts Queensland, City of Greater Geelong, Latrobe, Wangaratta, Liverpool and Charters Towers Regional Council.

Arts NSW currently supports ReFill by providing program funding to CuriousWorks and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre through the Arts and Cultural Development Program (ACDP). If you would like to find out more about the ACDP please click here.  

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Published: 19 November 2015