Equal opportunity to the arts in the Far West

Over an 18-month period, the Arts Unit worked closely with public schools in the Far West to deliver an incredible initiative. Glenn Cullen reports.

Image: The Pulse performance at Broken Hills Civic Centre was a roaring success.

When the department’s Arts Unit discovered some gaps in programs delivered to students in the state’s Far West, it was determined to come up with a hands-on solution.

The result became the Pulse Far West program, an initiative that developed arts-related courses tailored to the specific needs of the region’s schools and students.

Feedback from principals had made clear the need: send your best tutors to the Far West to pass on their expertise and develop a range of programs.

And the Arts Unit duly obliged.

Taken from the Pulse Alive concept – which was rolled out to Greater Sydney and other areas in the state – the Arts Unit got to work on high quality arts resources, workshops and performance opportunities specifically for the Far West.

The results spoke for themselves.

Pulse Broken Hill had more than 700 students from kindergarten to Year 6 participate, with tutors in dance, drama and music travelling to the legendary outback town and to Baronga to run three days of workshops.

Pulse Sunraysia pulled in 400 students across its broad geographical sweep.

Image: The Mildura Arts Centre was a sellout for the Pulse performance.

“We were presented with an amazing opportunity to take the inclusive, student-centred drive of Pulse Alive to these rural and remote schools,” said Peter Hayward, Arts Coordination Officer and Pulse Far West program coordinator.

“Working with the schools, staff and students in Broken Hill and Sunraysia over the past few months to create this experience for more than 1,000 local students has been incredibly inspiring.”

There were two sold-out performances at the Broken Hill Civic Centre and the Mildura Arts Centre, celebrating the students’ hard work as Pulse Far West performers were joined by their Pulse Alive counterparts.

Students in the Pulse Alive touring group came from all over Sydney, as well as from the Illawarra, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Inverell, Bathurst, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Bombala and West Wyalong – all coming together to assist in creating an amazing learning opportunity for students and teachers in the Far West Principal Network.

Jane Broadfoot, Assistant Principal at Gol Gol Public School, said the students had gained an incredible amount through their involvement in the program.

“The most gratifying reaction was the feedback from the parents, their beaming faces said it all,” she said.

Michael Coleman, Principal of Dareton Public School, said the experience had many benefits for his students.

“This was a truly life-changing experience for the students and parents from our school – seeing the kids achieve, trust, grow and just have an equal opportunity was incredible,” he said.

Image: Students from Sunraysia with their fingers on the pulse, practising for the region's big show.
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