15 February 2024

Wollongong City Council wants to help bring your great community project idea to life

| Dione David
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A crowd at a live music venue in Port Kembla

The inaugural Port Kembla Festival received substantial funding from Wollongong City Council, and hundreds poured into the city’s venues for an evening of free live music. Photo: Lachlan Starling.

In 2021 Holy Pavlova director Harrison Hall had an idea for livening up the steel streets of Port Kembla with a festival.

It would inject the spectrum of the live music scene into the city’s music venues, motorcycle stores, barbershops, warehouses, laneways and outdoor gardens and best of all, it would be free.

“That part’s important. We didn’t want any barriers for people to access music,” he says.

Without ticket sales, the question stood – where would he get the capital to pull off an event of the calibre he was envisioning?

He applied for and was awarded a $20,000 grant from Wollongong City Council’s pool of funding for community projects and in April 2022 about 1500 attendees poured into town for the inaugural Port Kembla Festival.

READ ALSO Multi-industrial precinct and ‘super TAFE’ planned for 200 ha of Port Kembla Steelworks’ excess land

Bolstered by venue and sponsor contributions, each location – from The Servo to The Iron Yampi – was given its own flavour. Crowds bounced from zone to zone to take in live music of all genres, with pop-up activations between each hub.

It was an objective success, and in the years since, though funding has become increasingly scarce, the festival has remained free of charge.

“I think keeping it free entry is really important to the community and ultimately, for the music and art scene to really take off in more emerging areas,” Harrison says.

“It was fantastic to see Wentworth Street full of people, humming with activity and smiling faces, laneways with light projections and local urban settings transformed into live music spaces.

“Port Kembla has a lot to offer, and we wanted to encourage people to come out and explore that end of the Illawarra. I think we achieved that.”

Wollongong City Council recently put the call out for anyone with a great community idea to apply for funding grants and donations designed to support individuals and community groups to bring their projects to life.

“One of the best things about living in Wollongong is our strong sense of community. We want to support people to complete projects and hold events that enliven our city and make Wollongong a great place to live, work and play,” Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“We have a number of different grant options available to cater to people’s different interests and passions. I imagine there are a number of residents who are sitting on a good idea but are not sure how to fund it.

“I highly encourage everyone to check out the full list of open grants and consider applying today.”

READ ALSO The Servo expansion: Popular Port Kembla venue’s exciting new chapter puts creatives in picture

Grants now open:

  • Bands and choirs: For not-for-profit bands and choirs based in Wollongong that perform locally at public events (up to $15,000 depending on event category)
  • Community events: For individuals or not-for-profit groups running an event that’s open to the community (up to $15,000 + GST for city-wide events, up to $5000 + GST for local general community events and up to $5000 for sporting events of state or national significance)
  • Culture Mix community grants: For Wollongong-based multicultural organisations, groups, and communities to develop new and innovative content for Wollongong’s new contemporary multicultural festival, Culture Mix, which returns on Saturday 19 October (up to $2000)
  • Small cultural grants: For cultural projects that enliven our communities and encourage people to get involved, including music, performing arts, visual arts and crafts and other cultural projects (up to $4000)
  • NAIDOC Week grants: For not-for-profit groups holding community events in Wollongong during NAIDOC Week (up to $1500)
  • Heritage grants: To encourage conservation projects in heritage places to add to our city’s history. If you own a property with a local heritage listing, you can apply for support from the Wollongong Heritage Fund. Funding is available on a dollar-for-dollar-spent basis and the council will consider funding up to 50 per cent of the total project cost, to a maximum of $10,000 (excluding GST).
  • Minor donations (open all year): For people, groups and organisations from the City of Wollongong who enrich or positively represent our city, including athletes representing our city in a recognised national or international event as a non-professional, for people or groups who provide a valuable service to the community or for not-for-profit organisations (between $250 and $750, depending on need)

Port Kembla Festival 2024 takes over Wentworth Street again on Saturday 20 April, featuring more than 25 artists and a new laneway stage to accommodate growing numbers.

“Expect much of what you saw in 2022 and 2023, plus a few new things we’re keen to try out, which we hope people will enjoy,” Harrison says.

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