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Shepparton Art Museum gets $265,000 boost for Indigenous exhibitions and programs

Indigenous art, education, digital content, and job creation are at the centre of more than $265,000 in Federal Government funding that will further bolster the offerings of the Shepparton Art Museum once it moves into its new $50 million home adjacent to Victoria Park Lake.

Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said SAM had been awarded $266,438 via the Federal Government’s $75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund, which is supporting arts and entertainment organisations seeking to restart, re-imagine or create new cultural and creative activities following the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown.

The ‘SAM First Nations Artist Residencies and Enhanced Engagement Program’ will include:

  • A series of artist residencies that will provide an opportunity for enhanced education and engagement activities, delivered both onsite and online;
  • Establishment of a trainee program for local Indigenous youth, who will assist in the development and delivery of the residency and engagement programs. Two trainees will be taken on in both 2021 and 2022;
  • Employment of a new Indigenous staff member as the trainee program co-ordinator;
  • Development of onsite and online resources to increase accessibility and inclusion for diverse audiences. Education resources will be produced in three non-English languages that are commonly spoken at home in the Greater Shepparton area;
  • An artist will be commissioned to create a range of interventions to enhance the experience for audiences with special needs; and
  • Further development of SAM’s online portal to capture digital content and the outcomes of this program.

Mr Drum said the RISE funding would allow SAM to showcase contemporary Indigenous art, while also educating people about the rich history of Indigenous art in the region.

“The Federal Government recognises that the arts and entertainment sector needs assistance as we emerge from COVID-19 and I’m thrilled SAM has been successful with its funding application,” Mr Drum said.

“The new Shepparton Art Museum, when it opens early next year, will be an incredible asset for the region. The First Nations artist residencies are a great example of the quality exhibitions it will showcase, in the process drawing tourists from all over, providing significant economic spin-offs.”

SAM chief executive and artistic director, Rebecca Coates, thanked the Federal Government and said the RISE funding was recognition of SAM’s commitment to working with local Indigenous artists.

“As SAM edges closer to our move into the new purpose-built cultural space, co-located with Kaiela Arts and the visitor centre, this funding creates new opportunities,” Dr Coates said.

“We are thrilled that our engagement work can be further amplified through this funding, allowing us to extend our work both in the galleries and online to create artist-led programs that will engage audiences, create opportunities through arts and culture, and build pathways for those living and working in regional Victoria.”

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said RISE grants had been allocated to 115 projects nationally, creating around 44,000 jobs, and helping secure the long-term future of many cultural and creative organisations.

“The arts and entertainment sector provides significant employment and economic benefits, as well as supporting cultural expression, community and social wellbeing, and reflecting unique Australian experiences and stories,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Our commitment of $60 million in (round one) RISE grants is an important step in the rejuvenation of Australia’s arts sector from COVID-19.

“I’m pleased that more than 70 per cent of the total funding will go to small-medium sized organisations, and 21 per cent to organisations in regional areas.”

The $75 million RISE fund forms part of the Federal Government’s $250 million Creative Economy Support Package to help restart activities such as festivals, concerts, tours and events.


Last call for VCE students to exhibit work in the new SAM building.

Applications for Shepparton Art Museum’s reopening exhibition, FRESH: GV Top Art & Design 2021, will close on Tuesday 8 December. FRESH is an exhibition that will celebrate the creativity and quality of artistic talent of young artists throughout the North Central Victorian region in the first half of 2021.

Applications are open to Year 11 and 12 students who have completed VCE Studio Arts, Art and Visual Communication Design. Mediums can include photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, ceramics, film, printmaking and a variety of design presentations from industrial, environmental and visual design.

‘2020 has been particularly tough for our school kids, teachers and families. What better a way to offer hope, and have something to look forward to in 2021 than a new exhibition celebrating creativity from North Central Victoria’s youth,’ explains SAM Director, Dr Rebecca Coates.     

FRESH will be the first show to open in our new SAM building. It will be an opportunity for us to share and own a new space, and through the creative ideas of a new generation, explore, share, and enjoy. We really encourage you to chat with your teachers, contact the SAM team, put in an application, and get involved and inspired,’ says Dr Coates.

In the past, SAM’s student shows have provided inspiration and at times career pathways into the arts and creative industries:

‘Exhibiting in SAM’s student show in 2016 was a big step in the start to my career and creative journey,’ said Abram Rasmussen (pictured), former Shepparton Christian College student. ‘It helped me realise that people enjoyed what I was making and that I am able to create things of value that people care about. This gave me the confidence to pursue a career as a “creative”.’

‘So fast forward to now – I run a successful photography/videography business, creating all sorts of content for different brands and businesses over the past few years. I am also about to start a full-time position at a local marketing agency as their creative director. So, SAM and particularly that 2016 VCE exhibition gave me the confidence to pursue what I was passionate about and now I am able to do what I love and provide for my family – which I may not have thought possible otherwise.’

FRESH: GV Top Art and Design will form part of SAM Squared, a new space that will launch the new building’s opening program. SAM Squared will host a range of exhibitions, programs and events designed to foster, engage and rejoice creativity from the vibrant arts and creative community of North Central Victoria.

Applications will be accepted from the following shires, Alpine, Benalla, Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga.

Applications close on Tuesday 8 December at 4pm, and can be completed via SAM’s website

For more information, or if you wish to discuss your application for FRESH, please contact SAM’s Visual Arts Educator, Linda Bryan on

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