Small Town Culture
Small Town Culture, a music group aiming to capture the spirit and uniqueness of life in the country, is an initiative funded by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) dedicated to raising the aspirations of regional and remote students.
Australian country music singer/songwriter, Josh Arnold, has been working with USQ since 2012, visiting schools in Western Queensland and engaging children in the creation of music based on their ideas and stories.
“Back in 2012 the Director of Marketing and Student Attraction at USQ, Helen Nolan, became aware of the work I was doing in regional areas throughout South West Queensland. Through my work, Helen saw an opportunity to furtherengage and raise the aspirations of young people in these areas. After our initial meeting and with the assistance of Mary Roberts (USQ Marketing) we put in place a plan of action and Small Town Culture was born with the financial backing from various USQ funding sources.”
Raised in Tara, a town in the Western Downs region of Queensland and approximately 300kms from the heart of Brisbane, Josh knows first-hand the challenges associated with growing up in a small country town:
“I was brought up in the small town of Tara with the usual limitations of isolation. However, I was extremely proud of my hometown and loved the freedom of life on the family property. Most people from other regions had never heard of Tara, which was always disheartening. The work I do now allows me to put small towns on the map and promote a way of life that is foreign to a lot of people in the metropolitan areas. I can’t begin to imagine how excited I would have been if given the opportunity to help create a song and video clip for my hometown when growing up.”
NCSEHE Director, Professor Sue Trinidad, personally relates to the challenges of living in regional Australia, coming from a regional Western Australian inland town herself where she completed her primary and secondary education before moving to Perth in order to undertake higher education studies.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to excel wherever they are, and often regional kids do not have the same opportunities as city kids do. The work Josh and USQ are doing to raise the aspirations of these regional students through music is to be commended.”
Speaking about his work, Josh told the NCSEHE:
“At the core of my work is the relationship I have with the children I work with. This is central to everything. Everywhere I go I first need to earn their trust and respect before we can create a piece of work that will last a lifetime, potentially altering their entire perception of their way of life.
I often run into children shopping or on holidays, and we are always excited to see each other. We talk about ‘our’ song that we wrote together; we’ll always have this bond. I see children take on guitar lessons and begin creating their own music as a resultof my workshops. I see students gain confidence and self-esteem just by giving something like this a go. I believe it’s important for children to have the opportunity to express the immense pride they feel for their communities and lifestyles. I seriously love what I am achieving with schools, communities and young people.
My hope for the future is to be able to expand into other regions by aligning “Small Town Culture” with other potential sponsors and organisations.”
Source: ABC Landline