THE Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal (FRRR) has given a $10,000 grant for the fourth Fishy Stories: The Fish Creek Children’s Festival of Stories to be held on Saturday and Sunday, November 18 and 19, 2023.
Fishy Stories is one of 176 community projects across remote, rural and regional Australia to be allocated a share of the $2.3 million FRRR has awarded through its Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program.
The SRC program is collaboratively funded by a number of donors, and Fishy Stories’ grant came from the William Buckland Foundation and Equity Trustees via the SRC’s Small and Vital stream.
FRRR Place Portfolio Lead Jill Karena said that “in the history of the SRC program and its predecessors dating back to 2000, we’ve never awarded this amount of money or this many small grants.
“This record-breaking SRC round is a clear indication of the level of support that communities in remote, rural and regional Australia need,” she said.
“What we saw in the applications in this round, across each of the streams, was a strong emphasis on individual and community health and social wellbeing.
“We also saw a high number of applications for creative and wellbeing activities, like festivals and community events,” Ms Karena said.
“These initiatives are wonderful to see because not only are they helping to bring people together and giving them a creative outlet, but they also often provide a boost to the local economy.”
Fishy Stories committee chair Mark Avery said he and his fellow committee members were very pleased to hear the news that their FRRR application had been successful.
“We are grateful to have received this funding, which will go towards staging the next Fishy Stories in November,” he said.
“The Bendigo Bank’s Toora and Foster Community Bank branches have also kindly agreed to sponsor Fishy Stories again this year, and we appreciate the ongoing support of the South Gippsland Shire, too.
“Fishy Stories has been recognised by the Shire as an important festival, not just as a cultural event but also for economic and tourism reasons.
“We have deliberately chosen to present Fishy Stories on a weekend in an off-peak period to draw in locals as well as to encourage families from intrastate and interstate to stay for at least one night to attend the two day festival, visit relatives and friends, and discover new experiences throughout South Gippsland,” Mr Avery said.
“Planning for the 2023 Fishy Stories is already well under way, and our continuing mission is to delight, ignite, and inspire a passion in young people for reading, writing, illustrating and sharing in the ageless art of making and telling stories.
“Fishy Stories also aims to engage children across Australia in a creative writing and skill development program and improve literacy outcomes through our National Writing Challenge,” he said.
“Conducting the Writing Challenge in 2022 had been suggested to us by the UNESCO Melbourne City of Literature, and we were astounded by the response, with 331 stories by Grade One children to Year Eight teenagers pouring in!” Mr Avery said.
“Last year, 12 stories written by children taking part in the Challenge were selected to be performed live by professional storytellers at Fishy Stories, and this year, 20 stories will be chosen.
“Every word and picture story submitted in the 2023 Australian Writing Challenge will be included in an eBook published by Cambridge University Press, so every entrant will be able to claim that they are a published author or illustrator!
“The 2023 Fishy Stories program will also feature free workshops by twelve nationally-known authors and illustrators, including current Australian Children’s Laureate Gabrielle Wang, previous Children’s Laureates Leigh Hobbs and Alison Lester, and local authors like Michael Hyde,” he said.
“There will be ticketed performances that have been chosen especially for their appeal to children, and all sorts of interactive events, such as the Words and Pictures Treasure Hunt, presentations by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and all-day storytelling and story-making,” Mr Avery said.
“We’re looking forward very much indeed to Fishy Stories this year, because of the growing level of interest the festival is receiving, from the local community and from families, authors, illustrators and educators throughout Australia,” He said.
“We truly believe stories are at the heart of belonging; they determine who we are, where we are and who we can become, and it’s so important to help children to discover the joy of books.”