Health, Safety, Environment and Community Report 2004

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Children as Creative Social Beings

Wollongong City Gallery is making art more accessible to children and families through its 'Children as Creative Social Beings' project, sponsored by BlueScope Steel.

Gallery Director, Peter O'Neill, says the project encompasses a broad range of strategies that help junior primary children use art as a window to the world, so that they can explore their own inner and outer lives more completely.

"The 'Children as Creative Social Beings' project recognises that an involvement in, and understanding of the arts and all forms of creative activity helps develop self-expression, self-esteem, creativity, problem solving, flexibility, risk-taking and other life-long learning skills and attitudes that are essential for preparing the children of today for the world of tomorrow," Peter says.

Some of the child-friendly activities now available at Wollongong City Gallery include a Reading Rug - a place in the Gallery where children and families can relax and read a book, participate in Gallery story times or have a break from looking, and Eye Spy labels and trails - where questions designed to encourage younger visitors to interact with artwork are posted next to exhibits.

Another initiative of the project, the ARTsight after school program, has brought children into the gallery to participate in a series of workshops. The workshops help children understand art and develop skills in a fun and nurturing environment. The ARTsight program fosters self-expression, the building of self-esteem and the growth of life-long learning skills.

Another aspect of the program was the 'A Question of Time' exhibition, which was co-curated by ARTsight participants. The exhibition ran from June to December 2004 and included eye spy labels with the children's comments, child friendly wall text and interactive activities. It explored the way in which artists show time in their work and how art has changed over time. The exhibition also included work by ARTsight participants.

BlueScope Steel has contributed A$40,000 over the past two years to support the Wollongong City Gallery in this innovative project. Our association with the gallery has helped to create a lasting impact on children in the local community and is a key part of our sponsorship of the Gallery over its 25 year history.

The Reading Rug where children and families can relax and read a book.

The Reading Rug where children and families can relax and read a book.