Creating Coonalpyn 2016-17 Community Impact Evaluation: by Jo Pike

Page 1

CREATING COONALPYN 2016-2017 COMMUNITY IMPACT EVALUATION Commissioned by Coorong District Council and Country Arts SA

Consultant: Jo Pike September 2018


Painting by local artist John Barrie “The Coonalpyn experience is all about people. Quite inspirational”

OPENING REMARKS Coonalpyn sits on the busy Dukes Highway, 165km southeast of Adelaide, population 215. An average of 5000 cars zoom by each and every day, but given no good reason to stop, they mostly didn’t. Until now. This evaluation was commissioned in 2016 to establish the impact of a suite of public artworks instigated by a small town under threat of disappearance. On the very public face of it, Creating Coonalpyn has been an immense success—somewhere near a billion social media hits, an increase in people stopping in their 100s every day—and in the 1000s at peak times—an increase in main street trade in the vicinity of 200-300% and a suite of new public artworks that engage people on a number of levels. But the less public story is deeper under the skin—in the community where the people go about their daily business—where the pulse indicates the blood is pumping more rapidly through the community vein. So taking it as a given that Creating Coonalpyn has been a ‘success’, let’s be very clear about why. Success hasn’t come purely because an artist painted a few silos, brilliant though that work may be, in and of itself. Sure, the silos are what the greatest number of people now associate with Coonalpyn, and the principle reason many of them have chosen to stop and take a look around, but the reasons to be optimistic about the town’s future run much deeper than that. This evaluation attempts to take the ‘pulse’ of the Coonalpyn community at the completion of all six artworks and to tease out what’s making its heart beat a little faster. Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 2


CONTENTS Opening Remarks ............................................................................ 2 Contents ...................................................................................... 3 Objectives of the Evaluation .............................................................. 4 Key Findings SUMMARY ..................................................................... 5 Key success factors ....................................................................................... 7 Key challenges ............................................................................................ 8 KEY FINDINGS CONCLUSION ............................................................................. 9

Evaluation Methodology and Reporting .................................................10 Scope ..................................................................................................... 10 Limitations ............................................................................................... 10 Evaluation Plan.......................................................................................... 10 Data Collection .......................................................................................... 11 Reporting................................................................................................. 12

PART ONE: THE OUTCOMES ...............................................................13 Creating Coonalpyn: The Project .................................................................... 13 The Artistic Outcomes ................................................................................. 16 The Community Outcomes ............................................................................ 24

PART TWO: IMPACT AGAINST PROJECT AIMS AND INDICATORS .....................33 Pre-Project Community Expectation ................................................................ 33 Results against Aims and Indicators ................................................................. 34

PART THREE: MEASURING COMMUNITY IMPACT .......................................38 Domain 1: Connectedness ............................................................................. 39 Domain 2: Values ....................................................................................... 44 Domain 3: Sustainability ............................................................................... 47 Domain 4: Engagement ................................................................................ 55 Domain 5: Creativity ................................................................................... 61

Appendix ONE ................................................................................ 1 Key Online, Print and Social Media .................................................................... 1

APPENDIX TWO ............................................................................... 4 Awards ...................................................................................................... 4

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 3


OBJECTIVES OF THE EVALUATION This Evaluation of Creating Coonalpyn 2016/2017 was jointly commissioned by Coorong District Council and Country Arts SA in June 2016 to establish the extent to which a suite of arts projects can positively impact a community and contribute to regional renewal in a small town in apparent decline. It presents the findings drawn from feedback collected from a range of stakeholders over the project period from May 2016 to January 2018 against a set of aims and objectives devised by the project management group at the outset. Originally intended to be completed in June 2017, four months after the final project was due to be completed, the survey period was extended to January 2018 when it was determined that the final project would not be ready for launch until December 2017. This report has been finalised in September 2018, a little over two years after Creating Coonalpyn first began. An interim report was submitted to Council in December 2016. That report is now superseded by this one, any relevant information being repeated here. Creating Coonalpyn emerged in response to a community call to action, and guided by the newly formed Coonalpyn Arts Group, it was developed by Coorong District Council with funding support from Country Arts SA and a range of local donors and sponsors as an experimental model of arts led regional renewal in 2016. Country Arts SA also funded this Evaluation. Comprising a suite of six artist-led community projects with public art outcomes, the aim was to engage the community in all six projects from conception to completion to provide: •

expanded knowledge across a range of skills resulting in a broader skill base from which the community could determine its own creative future;

improved capacity, inclination and opportunity to connect with others;

improved sense of positive emotion about themselves and their community;

activation and beautification of public space to reinvigorate the town; and

a point of interest for travellers, encouraging them to stop, rest, eat and drink, thereby supporting local business.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 4


KEY FINDINGS SUMMARY Much has been written about the capacity of public art to transform a region or a town, none more so than the Angel of the North, in the north of England, where a massive corten steel sculpture on a hilltop next to the A1 motorway at Gateshead, is commonly credited with turning the fortunes of the region. In the late 90s the Tyneside into which the Angel was born was reeling from the loss of coal mining and shipbuilding, and struggling to cope with rising unemployment and social problems. In fact, this single structure, iconic though it has become, did not itself regenerate the region, but was part of a successful and gradual process of arts interventions which tested the waters and gave the Council confidence to be ambitious. The success of the Angel encouraged investment in cultural infrastructure which has drawn huge numbers of visitors to the area and raised the self-esteem of the local population. The Angel has become the symbol of that transformation, but is not the whole reason for it. And so it is that the town of Coonalpyn in South Australia, population around 200, not only finds itself with an iconic artwork that has attracted international attention, but also a new found optimism and a sense of community born of two years of planning, learning, designing and making artworks which would make their hometown look a little more loved, and in the process cementing new friendships, learning to trust their own resilience, and finding the confidence to continue on the pathway that they have opened before them. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain, but anecdotal evidence suggests that since and during this iteration of Creating Coonalpyn, up to 50 cars an hour stop in Coonalpyn during peak periods, where before the figure was closer to 3-4 per hour. More concrete evidence is available from main street food and beverage traders who are reporting a post-silos increase in trade of 200% on a daily basis and 300% during peak periods (school and public holidays) i.e. sales have doubled or tripled. A new café is flourishing and existing main street food and beverage traders are experiencing a growth not seen in many years, putting on new staff and being able to renovate. They report unprecedented numbers of overseas visitors stopping and a continuing excitement six months on, which has had a significant flow-on effect into the community in terms of pride, confidence, happiness and optimism. Listening to recordings of interviews held in the new Silos Café, the responses were regularly punctuated by the sound of the doorbell and the hiss of the coffee machine.

It was anticipated that the emergence of the Creating Coonalpyn public artworks would coincide with the opening of Olivers Real foods in Coonalpyn’s main street, blurring the information regarding any increase in visitors. However, at this stage Olivers has not yet opened and any increase in visitor numbers can be directly attributed to the artworks without question.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 5


The resulting public artworks in mosaic, needlecraft, horticultural plantings, fence installation, and murals have collectively been a landmark program for Coorong District Council, and indeed for South Australia, not only because of the public artworks’ physical presence, but because of the legacy within the community in wellbeing, mental health, business development, employment, tourism, civic pride, economy, skills, capacity, youth engagement—so much more than the initial aims listed on Page 3. As a vehicle for regional renewal, Creating Coonalpyn is not only well on the way to meeting the somewhat optimistic hopes of throwing the town a lifeline expressed at the outset, but has also delivered social benefits beyond expectations—developing and celebrating ingenuity, rising to challenges and supporting each other, bringing disparate people together, having fun and building their capacity to self-manage. The community are showing immense pride at what they’ve contributed to their community and remain somewhat gobsmacked that what they have had so much fun doing, is bringing pleasure to so many others and shows no signs of slowing down. One participant, who had not been involved in art for many years and was planning to relocate, took his house off the market and renovated a home studio in order to pursue his art practice on a continuing basis towards developing an exhibition. As a direct result of involvement in Creating Coonalpyn, this is a profound example of the life-changing power of arts participation—a lifechanging decision which is resulting in fulfilment, belonging and pleasure. “There are three things that stand out for me—it gave us a purpose, it gave us pride and it gave us pleasure and they’re pretty important qualities of happiness and that morphs all through what we’ve done.” There are plenty of recent examples, both in South Australia and elsewhere, where arts projects haven’t achieved their potential through lack of buy-in at the grassroots or losing sight of the original purpose, regardless of the size of the budget. In this case, an extraordinarily small cash investment relative to the impact was made by the Coorong District Council. Including a conservatively estimated volunteer contribution of $70,000, the financial costs came in at around $170,000 cash and in kind support from a variety of sources, of which $25,000 came from ratepayer funds. The Arts Group is quick to point out that there are still some misunderstanding regarding the size of Council’s investment of ratepayer funds, given that funds were bolstered by an existing special purpose reserve fund of $30,000 from the sale of the former Council’s CEO residence. “Too often we tend to value projects with the context of ‘how much did it cost’? We’ve spent very little [ratepayers] money and got wow.” Focus Group A focus group question asking whether Creating Coonalpyn had under delivered, matched or exceeded their expectations was met with a unanimous chorus of ‘exceeded’.

Whilst it has to be acknowledged that the silos were the main catalyst for increased recognition of and visitors to Coonalpyn, it was the six projects together that significantly impacted the community in a complex and interrelated tapestry of positive outcomes. “These projects have connected people to their place and each other and indeed to the wider world. Locals and visitors alike view Coonalpyn in a new light now” Local resident

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 6


KEY SUCCESS FACTORS Truly successful community arts projects are generated from within the community itself, as this one was, and require their cooperation, conversation, consent and ownership at every level of the process. A successful process relies on them to be able to take the initiative, rise to challenges and accept opportunities for themselves as they arise. Communities—made up of individuals with different needs and aspirations—bring about change for themselves using the tools and assistance provided by agencies that choose to provide them. A bond of trust for both to deliver on expectations exists between the support agencies and the community and collaborative decision making, especially when changes arise, is essential for the relationship to maintain an even keel. From the outset the Coonalpyn Arts Group, in partnership with Coorong District Council, demonstrated the goodwill and openness to generate collaborative participation, a willingness to find the time and energy to deliver and a clarity about the problem they were trying to solve. The Creating Coonalpyn recipe for success is attributable to the following ingredients: •

• •

• •

Creating Coonalpyn was developed to solve a clearly defined problem with a clearly defined solution—in this case a drab and dreary main street that provided no reason for people to stop, despite the fact 5000 cars drive through each day. Projects were devised to take into account and capitalise on the specific skills, interests, needs, history, culture and place unique to this community. The input and local knowledge of key community drivers in this process cannot be underestimated; combined with the wisdom and experience of the arts professional who understood that community ownership is paramount to success. Whilst other silo art exists, the Arts Group worked with artist Guido van Helten to develop images that spoke specifically to the renewal of Coonalpyn and its recognition that children hold the key to the future. The big idea here was a richer and more inclusive local culture—this was not about the economics, but about how people feel about the place they live. The social networks that developed across the community and in particular the camaraderie within the now close-knit Arts Group would not have been achieved over a shorter time. Often community projects are small in scale because of the ascribed budget and timeframe, but because Creating Coonalpyn was initially planned as a layered process over a longer time, it was able to accommodate various changes as the community grew more attached to its concepts. Hence, the expansion of time it took to complete the complex mosaics project was a natural extension of a growing program that shows no signs of stopping any time soon. The business of public art isn’t only the responsibility of the person on staff who has the word ‘art’ or ‘culture’ in their job title. Coorong District Council fostered a culture where other critical staff understood that this project was part of their task list—management, tourism, maintenance, digital media, marketing. The value of a dedicated, qualified arts professional, skilled at her craft through years of experience and professional development in community-based arts projects cannot be underestimated. Council’s recognition of this is a huge contributing factor in the success of Creating Coonalpyn.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 7


• • •

The choice of experienced, professional community artists across the five community projects whose ability to draw out the talents and skills of the participants and support them to exceed their own expectations leaves a significant social legacy. The choice of Guido van Helten to realise the flagship silo mural will ensure that Coonalpyn’s silos always stand out in what is fast becoming a crowded marketplace. The never say die attitude of the community and their willingness to explore and support new possibilities was key. The bold move to include a senior community artist to work alongside less inexperienced artists was a success on a number of levels, and critical to getting the project underway in a short timeframe and on budget. The enthusiasm and faith demonstrated by the key drivers to enthuse community investors as well as the support of a committed local Councillor who resides in Coonalpyn were key to garnering initial support.

“There are so many different reasons why some of the other small towns couldn’t have done this— no volunteer base, no passing traffic, stuff like that. Creating Coonalpyn was about solving a problem IN Coonalpyn – it was about how do you get the 3500 cars that already drive through to stop”.

“how amazing it felt after the community consultation – everyone being so open and generous, the support from everyone, it felt really nice. It was the main bricks and mortar of the whole project. As an example to others, it’s hard to pin down how important this is—it’s hard to get a project off the ground if you don’t have that. Maybe that’s why this community is surviving?” Project Artist

“The readiness of the township to respond—they are very trustful and generous people. The amount they got through in organising in the first two days was because they were jumping and ready for it.” (Artist: Growing Coonalpyn)

KEY CHALLENGES Because Creating Coonalpyn was transformative at a wider community level, it stretched Council’s resources and experience. Creating Coonalpyn came slightly off the rails where they departed from the consultative process at a community level. Whilst Council had worked side by side with the community to create an arts solution to the original problem, the scale of success generated a suite issues relating to traffic, signage and public amenities that Council staff hadn’t anticipated and were inadequately prepared to deal with. A more consultative process to iron out these issues would have alleviated friction and engaged the community in the solution. Council’s inexperience in the arts space, combined with the enthusiasm and momentum caused by the juggernaut of international attention, also meant that inevitably not all ideas hit their targets. These have been outlined in Appendix 1: Evaluation of Project Process. Interviews with traders in July 2017, some months after the silos were completed, revealed that some issues they had raised with Council remained unresolved at that time—some relating to the influx of visitors, and others by Council’s relative inexperience in juggling a range of partners, each with different needs, expectations and motivations.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 8


KEY FINDINGS CONCLUSION To assume that an arts project such as Creating Coonalpyn can provide a blueprint to be replicated elsewhere, is to misunderstand the specific keys to its success. For Creating Coonalpyn a number of factors were in play, listed in the key success factors above, each of them indispensable in their contribution to its success. Coorong District Council has acknowledged that it was inexperienced in employing arts projects to realise goals of its strategic plan. Despite a lack of experience in the arts space, it has, in partnership with a strong and resilient community, pulled off perhaps the most remarkable regional renewal project seen in this state, or elsewhere in Australia, on a very tiny budget. Creating Coonalpyn has not been without challenges, most of which have arisen as a consequence of success in the aftermath rather than with the rollout of the arts projects themselves. Other communities considering commissioning a large town mural, especially one that is intended to be transformational at a community level, should be wary of overestimating the power of the mural alone. The key challenge facing others seeking to imitate, including other towns within the Coorong District, is to be mindful of each of the key success factors of Creating Coonalpyn and to remember that every community and its circumstances are different. There is much to be gained by working alongside experienced community arts professionals who have over years of experimenting, finessed the process of working with communities for the most beneficial outcomes. Can we truly say that Creating Coonalpyn has been the catalyst for an economic resurgence? I think we can. Certainly there are no other factors that can be said to have had an impact that would have caused an increase in local main street trade of 200%. In part it is the size of the town that has enabled this assessment, and to separate out the factors that have led to the change.

“I’m a positive person, but the impact of this has gone further than we could’ve ever hoped for. It’s really changed the fabric of the town and brought them together in a way I don’t think has happened in a long time.” Coonalpyn District Council Chief Executive Vincent Cammell

The following pages of this evaluation give voice to the people who live in Coonalpyn to reveal the value of the investment made. We hear, in their own words, what it has meant for them and their community at the grassroots. Where there have been negative responses, they have been included. We also hear a sample of the many thousands of voices who came from elsewhere to experience the artworks for themselves. And through these voices, we contribute to the larger narrative about the value of cultural experiences like Creating Coonalpyn as a portal to a better society.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 9


EVALUATION METHODOLOGY AND REPORTING SCOPE Creating Coonalpyn is a suite of six individual projects. However, for the purposes of this evaluation, Creating Coonalpyn is viewed as a single entity, on the assumption that it would be the aggregation of projects that would have the greatest impact on the community over the long term. It was however recognised at the outset that the Silos project had the most potential to increase visitor numbers. For the purposes of this report, the ‘Coonalpyn Community’ is defined as everyone who lives or works in the Coonalpyn region.

LIMITATIONS This is a small-scale evaluation within the confines of a small budget. It could not and did not attempt accurate survey sample management, nor an economic impact study. However, given Coonalpyn’s small population size (around 220), we believe we have gathered enough information from a cross-section of the community to assess whether Creating Coonalpyn achieved its objectives. Within these confines, a small suite of evaluation tools was developed for use over the 2-year timespan including the recording of anecdotal feedback, online and written surveys, a community focus group and audio-recorded interviews with individuals. Much use has also been made of the unanticipated barrage of social media feedback from members of the wider public.

EVALUATION PLAN The Evaluation Plan, including Aims and Indicators, was ratified by staff of Coorong Council, Country Arts SA and the Coonalpyn Arts Group prior to commencement. The broad aims, established at the project planning stage were to provide the community with: • • • • •

Increased knowledge across a range of skills resulting in a broader skill base from which the community could determine its own creative future Increased capacity, inclination and opportunity to connect with others Increased sense of positive emotion about themselves and their community Activation and beautification of public space to reinvigorate the town A point of interest for travellers, encouraging them to stop, rest, eat and drink, thereby supporting local business.

A range of indicators was developed at two separate levels: 1. the impact on individual project participants, their relationships with each other and their contribution to making their town a better place 2. broader impact on the town’s capacity to attract more visitors This was deemed especially important in this particular case because there was an overriding anticipation that the Silos Mural would impact on the fortunes of the town as a whole—i.e. that a piece of large scale public art could significantly increase visitors to the town so that a positive impact on trade could be measured, a big ask on a modest budget. Developing indicators on two levels provided a safety net where failure at one level couldn’t cancel out success at the other.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 10


DATA COLLECTION

BENCHMARKING • MAY 2016 Arts Group members, who had been involved in the planning and who were also about to embark on projects, were asked a series of questions to determine how they felt about their town, why they had chosen to get involved and what they were hoping the impact would be. 12 formal surveys were collected. Impressions from other locals were gathered through social media posts, anecdotal conversations and the community information day in July 2016. These expectations informed the Aims and Indicators against which the final evaluation was measured. The results of the benchmarking process are presented at PART TWO.

MID-TERM FEEDBACK • NOVEMBER 2016 The 2016 Evaluation Plan scheduled data collection from project participants at the completion of all the projects in October 2016 after launch at the Coonalpyn Show. However, only the Tunnel Revision, Coonalpyn on Show and Growing Coonalpyn projects were complete at this time— installation of Eyes on the Road was still to come, the Silos Mural was postponed until February 2017 and the Mosaics Project timeline was readjusted significantly due to the complexity of the design. However, useful data was collected at this time from participants via written and online surveys, personal interviews with the broader community at the Coonalpyn Show and extended interviews with artists and Council’s Cultural Programming Manager. This was analysed against the relevant Aims and Indicators and presented to Council and Country Arts SA as an interim report. We were able to determine whether the projects were starting to fulfil the hopes expressed at the outset and whether Council’s indicators were on the way to being met. The results of mid-term feedback are incorporated into the post project analysis at PART THREE.

POST-PROJECT/FINAL ANALYSIS • JULY 2017 – JANUARY 2018 The 2016 Evaluation Plan scheduled final research in May 2017, once all the artworks were complete, had been visible in the public space for several months and the impact on the whole community had begun to emerge. As it transpired, the impact the silos mural made in the media – print, television, online and social – from the moment the artist first climbed into the cherrypicker, was greater than anyone could have anticipated and a massive amount of feedback from both the Coonalpyn community and the public at large was collected via these public channels as the project was being completed. However, it had become apparent that the mosaic mural would not be completed until about August 2017 and it was agreed that the final Evaluation would be carried out once it had been publicly installed. The Mosaics Mural was launched in December 2017. In anticipation of shortly completing the mosaics, interviews were conducted with operators and staff of most Coonalpyn traders in July 2017 – the BP, Caravan Park, Silos Café, Coonalpyn Bakery, Coonalpyn Hotel, with a representative of Councils maintenance staff plus the Cultural Programming Manager. In January 2018, we interviewed reps from Coonalpyn Community Hub, the Football Club, businesses and farmers and again with traders including Bakery, Coonalpyn Hotel, Waffles and Jaffles, Careship Coorong, Coonalpyn Primary School, Driver Reviver, and a focus group with 10 of the 17 member Arts Group. Both artist mentees also contributed a report. Many comments were gleaned from both social media and the people’s choice awards from Mainstreet SA Awards to which there were several hundred responses. Those included in this report are indicative of the many hundreds of other with similar sentiments. The results of the final analysis are presented at PART THREE. Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 11


REPORTING

PART ONE: THE OUTCOMES The outcomes—both the artworks and what they caused to happen—are presented here to give context to the analysis of the cultural impact on the community that follows.

PART TWO: IMPACT AGAINST AGREED AIMS AND INDICATORS The Aims and Indicators are presented in three categories—outcomes for project participants, outcomes for Council and Project Partners, outcomes for the broader community. The tables provide an indication of various levels of success, how the data was collected and a reference to a qualitative analysis elsewhere in the report.

PART THREE: MEASURING CULTURAL IMPACT Since the Evaluation Plan was submitted to Council in 2016, the Local Government Association of SA has implemented its Cultural Impact Framework (CIF), which provides both a set of provocations about how Council decisions impact on the culture of a community and a methodology to measure the value of current investment in cultural activity, assets and infrastructure. In order that Council may use the evaluation of Creating Coonalpyn in the future as part of a broader analysis of cultural activities using the CIF, the Evaluation Framework was modified to report the Aims and Indicators for participants and the wider community within the five domains the CIF uses to encapsulate cultural impact—Creativity, Connectedness, Sustainability, Values and Engagement.

APPENDIX ONE : EVALUATION OF PROJECT PROCESS The Aims and Indicators for Council and Partners are assessed here on the basis of successes and challenges, the extent to which the outcomes assist Council meet the aims of its Strategic Management Plan and recommendations that could be implemented in future projects based on the identified challenges.

APPENDICES 2 & 3: KEY ONLINE, PRINT & SOCIAL MEDIA, TOURISM & AWARDS Whilst a marketing evaluation is not part of this report, the media and tourism collateral generated by Creating Coonalpyn, as well as the awards received, are a significant factor in the increase in recognition of Coonalpyn as a visitor destination and a short summary is included in this context.

SIGNIFICANT CHANGE STORIES Assuming that the audience for the full Evaluation Report would be limited, the report provides five separate pictorial stories that can be distributed more widely. These stories encapsulate five significant outcomes of Creating Coonalpyn told from the community perspective.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 12


PART ONE: THE OUTCOMES CREATING COONALPYN: THE PROJECT Coonalpyn is a small country town with a district population of 815 (2011) and a town population around 215, located 165km southeast of Adelaide along the busy Dukes Highway. In the 1980s Coonalpyn evolved as a services town, but by 2015, affected by drought and the global financial crisis of 2007/08, many businesses supported by primary industries in small rural towns like Coonalpyn closed their doors. Smaller farming enterprises were sold and absorbed into larger land holdings with farm workers and families leaving the district to seek employment opportunities elsewhere. After many years of decline, Coonalpyn was in dire need of a facelift to draw people back and provide a pick-me-up to those who had stuck out the tough times. The Coonalpyn community requested support from Coorong District Council to develop a strategy to beautify the main street precinct. At the same time, Council conducted an extensive Arts and Cultural Audit of the Council region and were encouraged to pursue art-based opportunities to realise strategic, economic and social goals. A partnership was secured with Country Arts SA and Raukkan Community Council to appoint a full-time Cultural Programming Manager who would work with the community throughout. As a direct result, the 17 member Coonalpyn Arts Group was formed in early 2016 to find the answer to their town’s ailing fortunes in a suite of arts projects with public art outcomes which would not only provide a magnet to the many passers-by, but also bring the townsfolk together in a common purpose. They were the management and advisory body for the duration of the projects and remain committed to developing further projects.

The masterstroke of Creating Coonalpyn was to combine the suite of five artist-led community projects, astutely tailored to their existing talents and passions, with the flagship 30-metre high mural on the grain silos, rather than rely on the silos project alone to deliver a change in fortune. The existing skills of community members in mosaics, needlecraft, gardening and painting, combined with local farm trade expertise, were matched to professional lead artists and the available vacant mainstreet sites—an empty shop, a vacant lot (known variously as The Soak, or Hoods Yard), the still-operating 30m high Viterra Silos, the railway underpass, the tennis and netball club fence and the façade of the public toilets—in such a way that participants would be challenged extend their skill sets and to think differently about the way they were used.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 13


In the case of the silos project, it was known at the outset that this would require a skilled artist working alone, but one who was prepared to engage in community conversations about the subject matter, so a sense of community ownership would be possible and the project devised for the sports fence required very little existing skill other than that of the project artists, so suitable for all comers. Permissions were gained from landholders and lessees for the identified sites and two local emerging artists were identified for mentorships in mosaics and documentary photography. 47 adults were listed as involved directly in the projects, with a further 14 contributing in some way with financial or other support, representing about a quarter of the town’s population.

The community of Coonalpyn now has five previously disused sites along the Duke’s Highway brightened up and activated by public artworks, a significant legacy left by the sixth ephemeral project, foundational skills to develop future public art projects and a rich vein of social connection from which to draw inspiration, friendship and support. These legacies and impacts are discussed in detail in this report. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain, but anecdotal evidence suggests that up to 50 cars an hour now stop in Coonalpyn where previously the figure was closer to 3 or 4. However, more concrete evidence is available from mainstreet food and beverage traders who are reporting a 200% increase in trade of on a daily basis and 300% during peak periods (school and public holidays). Significant events during the project included the opening of the Silo’s Café the day Guido started work, and the inaugural RV Silo Sights Base Camp that was held whilst the painting was underway (both as a direct result of the Silo’s Mural), and, in a completely unrelated event, the closing of Coonalpyn’s only Roadhouse (the BP) by the Peregrine Corporation in October 2017, largely due to that company’s focus on the nearby Tailem Bend motorsport park, The Bend.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 14


Also unrelated to Creating Coonalpyn was the influx of 80 workers from Santrev who were housed at the Caravan Park for the building of chicken sheds at nearby Yumali during the project period. Increases in trade that occurred during this period have not been taken in to account. Including a conservatively estimated volunteer contribution (based on the current recognised rate of $41.30 / hour and not including the 3000 hours it took to complete the mosaics project), financial costs came in around $170,000 cash and in kind support, an extraordinarily small cash investment relative to the impact. $65,000 (38%) $30,000 (18%) $25,000 (14%) $25,500 (15%) $23,800 (14%)

Volunteers Special Coonalpyn Council Reserve Fund (sale of a Coonalpyn property) Coonalpyn Council Country Arts SA project funding local sponsorships and donations

Initially planned for completion between April 2016 and October 2016 with launches to coincide with the annual Coonalpyn Show, project completion dates were however very fluid and the final project was launched in December 2017.

Far from being a disadvantage, the extended timeframe resulted in several unexpected positive outcomes.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 15


THE ARTISTIC OUTCOMES All six projects were completed although several took a lot longer than originally anticipated. However, far from taking the momentum out of Creating Coonalpyn, the delay appears to have spaced the projects in such a way that more people were able to get involved as the word got out, people could be involved in multiple projects and could dip in and out as they were able. Giving the projects they time they needed to ensure a quality outcome paid off.

TUNNEL RE-VISION After leading the first railway underpass art project 20 years previously, Middleton-based artist Barbary O’Brien returned to Coonalpyn in mid 2016 to lead 15 community members and Coonalpyn Primary School students in a restoration and reimagining of the existing Tunnel Vision murals. Tunnel Vision was originally initiated by then local police constable and rural watch coordinator Marianne Morgan, concerned that people weren’t using the ‘dingy and dark’ 75 metre tunnel which passes under the Adelaide – Melbourne railway line. Barbary worked then with community to generate ideas and find a solution, encouraging locals to create murals to line the inside of the walls to create the illusion of being inside a train. Looking out through the ‘windows’ people could see the local landscape – images that reflect the lives of people living in and around Coonalpyn. 20 years on, the 36 underpass murals, some of which were badly in need of repair, were restored and 12 second-generation murals added during workshops at the Community Hub and painting workshops with the primary school. The underpass sits between the main road (with the silos on one side and the mosaic mural/toilets on the other) and the dog exercise park used by Dukes Highway travellers at the other. The underpass is regularly used by Coonalpyn Primary School as a thoroughfare to other parts of town. “people absolutely love the artworks…words can’t describe it…everyone loves the silos, but there’s also quite a lot of mentions about the tunnel as well – the artwork in there is brilliant and the whole town was involved in that - our eldest lad through the school has a couple of paintings there” Local Resident

“Don’t normally walk through [the tunnel], as we live out of town a bit, but have been through with people visiting and you can spend more time each time you go through because there’s so much detail and we know who did them. And people do go down and look now and I don’t think they really did before…and I’m sure the dog park is used more often now, so people are following the trail a bit.” Local resident

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 16


GROWING COONALPYN Growing Coonalpyn was an ephemeral environmental/horticultural installation depicting and celebrating seasonal changes and challenges, recovery and renewal, in keeping with the overall project theme. It breathed life into a derelict site adjacent the Dukes Highway leased by Universal Trailers, and known locally as the ‘town soak’.

Led by artists Laura Wills and Will Cheeseman, with initial consultation-phase advice from Evette Sunset, 32 participants designed and implemented a rustic interpretation of the Coonalpyn landscape, the intersection between the natural environment and the primary production, and reflecting historical and cultural features of the region. Laura delivered workshops with the school that resulted in students creating ‘leaves’ for a tree sculpture. Designed to last one year, its features included advanced trees planted in giant bales, sand dunes planted with native species of plants and found objects welded together to create sculptural flora, wheel hubs that cradle succulent plants, painted dried arrangements and an old ute growing a healthy gum out of the front window. A winding rubble path lined with wheat grass invited visitors to explore the space and discover the hidden treasures within. A mural on the adjoining vacant shop depicted the farming practices and the Chinese gold diggers who passed through Coonalpyn. Taking four months to complete, it was launched in August 2016 with plants scheduled to look their best for the Coonalpyn Show in October. Participants continued to stay involved in tending the garden and adding new elements long after the official project launch. An innovative approach to the project process was the addition of a senior artist to work alongside Laura and Will, enabling Evette Sunset to bring her considerable experience to a project of this

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 17


scale, but taking into account her personal reservations that the building phase of the project would be physically challenging. A short, intense community consultation and concept phase with clearly defined parameters was challenging for the young artists at first, who felt they needed more time to absorb and reflect. In retrospect they were willing and able to articulate the considerable benefits— wisdom and expertise that wouldn't otherwise have been available, an on-the-job mentorship in how to get the best outcomes from the community consultation process, an intense period of brainstorming with the community that got the planning phase out of the way, and a holistic vision that anticipated pitfalls. It also provided time for them, and the community participants, to spread their wings once the ‘making’ started. They acknowledge that they would have enjoyed having Evette cast her practised eye over the project down the track, but budget didn’t allow for this. A glimmer of hope that the garden would be allowed to remain beyond the planned twelve-month period flickered for a short time, but, as planned, the owners required it to be dismantled and the building repainted, a result that participants all agreed was disappointing given that both sites remain vacant at the time of writing. “we knew that it was only going to be 12 months but it did seem a shame …especially when you go past now and it’s just weeds—there are little daisies coming up so you don’t know what’s going to happen next winter. I would really like it to smother itself in daisy flowers so that those little daisies show people how we feel”. Participant Despite this, Growing Coonalpyn played a huge part in the overall success of Creating Coonalpyn in several unexpected ways outlined further in the report. “Being brought closer together was, I think, a special outcome for the participants. Over the course of a year stuff happens, births, deaths, marriages, illness, etc. In my time working with the participants I was aware of how they supported each other outside of the project and my feeling was that this had been enhanced by being involved in the project.” Project Artist, Growing Coonalpyn

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 18


COONALPYN ON SHOW Limestone Coast artist, Anne Miles, worked with members of needlecraft group Sew’n’Sews and the Coonalpyn Primary School to design and sew 20 nylon applique panels, with images representing the local produce, exhibits and activities that are the heart of the annual Coonalpyn Show. Designed principally to add carnival atmosphere to the Show, and intended to be displayed for the short time in the windows of a vacant shop until Olivers Real Foods took over the site, they remain in those windows at the time of writing, Olivers having delayed their opening until later in 2018. Anne also delivered drawing workshops and an artist talk at the primary school. “Participants were pleased and proud that they had achieved so much. It showed them what they were capable of. They were a really enthusiastic group”. Lead Artist

EYES ON THE ROAD A drab sporting fence on the Dukes Highway now sports a large scale image of a wedge tailed eagle (an iconic feature of the local skyline), a design chosen in consultation with the Art Group led by artists Simon Maglica and Dana Peters (Hyde and Seek). The artists created the pixelated image and oversaw its conversion into 3200 metal tabs which were measured, cut and folded by members of the Tintinara Community Men’s Shed before being spray painted in 52 colours, sorted into numbered rows and installed on the fence by fifty people with a core of 12, young and older, across the various stages. Modifications in the materials and fabrication presented challenges both with the metal tabs and with the fences, but participants were proud to have solved the issues as they arose, the first through the ingenuity of the Men’s Shed and the second by the Council depot crew. “It would be a great safety message to have a sign on it saying ‘keep your eyes on the road’ Local Resident

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 19


SILOS MURAL Artist Guido van Helten arrived in Coonalpyn on 1 February 2017 to much public fanfare, first as guest of honour at a community barbecue attended by the majority of the 200 strong population, and then settling into his much more preferred method of one-on-one conversations. Talking with, listening to, and photographing people over the next week, he settled on a concept that, whilst essentially portraiture, was not representative of individuals, but a collective representation of the ethos of renewal, regeneration and optimism that Creating Coonalpyn had already begun to yield. Guido went about the painting of the silos high atop his cherry picker for the next six weeks, while on the ground and in the air, interest started to snowball and by the end of March 2017, Coonalpyn was awash with visitors wanting to see what all the fuss was about.

Guido was selected not only for the quality of his work, demonstrated by sustained national and international acclaim, but also because his working process and final designs were known to be sympathetic to both the community aspirations and the building canvas—in this case the 30metre high, still operating, Viterra silos in the main street of Coonalpyn. The fundamental power in the final design lies in choice of five local children to represent renewal and regeneration, rather than rely on oft-used historical, nostalgic themes, a decision taken in consultation with the Arts Group. Guido photographed the children in the local school, transferring their playful interactions onto the large scale over the next five weeks so that they became one with the silo’s circular structure and encourage visitors to park and walk around to photograph from different viewing points. Whilst somewhat unexpected and misunderstood in some quarters, Guido’s soft colour palette is partly chosen because it is less likely to fade over time, and the choice to obscure the children’s faces a deliberate decision to avoid any relationship with large scale billboard advertising, with the result that is far more sophisticated than the straightforward rendering of portraits.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 20


Those residents we interviewed who would have preferred historical subjects and more colour appeared content to go along with it once they were made aware. “yep it probably would have been too much to see Maisie’s big smile!” All over the world, Guido’s work is transforming the way people perceive rural and remote regions and more importantly, the way that the residents of these struggling townships see themselves and demonstrate the power of arts projects to drive these transformations. Coonalpyn has proven this once again. Whilst a handful of people would have liked to see images symbolic of the history of farming on the silos, perhaps in time those few will come to see that van Helten’s mural, through its very use of the largest and most iconic farming structure in the town, is indeed a celebration, not only of local industry, but of the local children who will carry the future prosperity of that industry on their shoulders. Public art, being by its very nature, on the very street where these people live, invites their opinion. “The decision came through meeting various people, parents and witnessing how the town of Coonalpyn seemed to be a nice place for children to be simply, children. This developed further through talking with the students at the local school and some of the older generation. I wanted to make sure that a relationship was developed with the school kids so the artwork could impart the necessary impact and inspiration to that generation.” Artist Guido van Helten

“In contrast to historical or industry focussed designs, which rely on nostalgia of the past, this design brings together the simplicity of playful interactions with the silo’s structure architecturally and hopes to serve as a catalyst for creative thinking to the artworks audience and the community of Coonalpyn in the future.” Artist Guido van Helten

"There's a lot of nostalgia in the world right now, for times gone by, that's just not really inclusive of future generations. I want people to think about the next generation and how they are going to live. I hope it inspires young people to know that there is a path through creative industries.” Artist Guido van Helten

“We knew from the outset we needed a flagship project. When Guido agreed, we knew from that moment on that everything would fall into place because the goodwill was there, we had funding, we had council support, and community right behind it.” Cultural Programming Manager, Coorong Council and Country Arts SA, Landline February 2017

“The way it has captured the importance of youth in a small rural town.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 21


MOSAIC MURAL The painstakingly crafted 29m2 mosaic wall now masking the roadside public toilet site is testament to the persistent commitment of a band of mainly women unfazed by a design of such scale and complexity that it took a year longer than anticipated to complete. Lead Artist Mike Tye, who believes this is a largest mosaic he’s been involved with at a community level with community participants doing most of the work, developed the design with local mentee Marcia Camac, and mentored 27 local contributors, with a core group of ten.

The design proved challenging, partly due to some complex elements that were to disguise the imperfections on the old building, and took a year longer than planned to complete (a total of 3000 person hours – 1.5 FTE), but the resulting artwork is an outstanding example of opus sectile mosaic, where the pieces are cut to shape, like stained glass, rather than breaking up old crockery or tile into small pieces. This was a new level of skill for this self-confessed group of ‘smashers’ and a source of immense pride for them and their community. It depicts blue wrens, echidna, a correa bush, a wedge-tailed eagle and other native flora and fauna of the region as well as a few ‘whimsies’ secreted into the original design that mean something special to those who made them and to be searched for by visitors. The scheduled October 2016 launch date came and went, but it was agreed that compromise in the quality of the work undertaken was not an option—‘near enough wasn’t good enough’ and ‘it would be finished when it was finished’. In the end the longer timeframe was fortuitous for several reasons. By the time it was nearing completion, it had become clear that, due the dramatic increase in visitation to the town from the moment the silos project began six months earlier, the existing public toilets would no longer be adequate, and the decision was taken to erect a free-standing wall in front of the existing amenities to enable demolition and rebuild of the toilet block in due course. The original toilet wall had never been a great canvas for a mosaic due to plumbing pipes, a fuse box, and other things interrupting the brickwork so the complex design was a work-around solution to camouflage these elements. However, despite being no longer necessary, the outcome is so supremely satisfying for those involved that the memories of the challenges they posed will melt into history. The delay also meant that rather than being overshadowed by the silos, the rapidly increasing visitors were able to share in the excitement of progress and anticipation of its completion. The camaraderie that developed within the group over nearly two years could not have been achieved over a shorter timeframe.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 22


“The story now flows better [on the new wall] as you walk around it. We already had the crowds for the silos and the toilets weren’t coping so by then we knew the old structure would have to come down eventually — if it had gone on the old toilets it wouldn’t flow. Its better now…if we hadn’t taken so long it wouldn’t have been as good!” Focus Group

‘They were originally sceptical about having to cut rather than smash, but now that they can see the level of detail they can attain, they appreciate this way of doing it and are proud of the outcome. They’re really concerned now about the quality of the work they’re doing.’ Project Artist (during the project)

ARE THE ARTWORKS OF HIGH QUALITY? This is a highly subjective and many-layered question and not the role of this evaluation to assess— it is addressed here as one of the original project aims—to ensure the works are of high quality. Lead Artist Barbary O’Brien commented on the high quality of the Tunnel Re-vision artwork. The Mosaics Mural and Growing Coonalpyn were ambitious and took longer than expected to complete, but the projects outcomes are better than anyone anticipated at the outset and have been widely praised. The Silos Mural is unquestionably the work of an artist whose international stature is gaining momentum with every work he completes. Perhaps the most appropriate answer lies in responses from the public, both residents and visitors, which are overwhelmingly positive for all projects. “The mosaic is stunning, mindblowing. It gets more comments than the silos now.”

“The artist spent a week talking with and photographing members of the community — population approximately 300 — before deciding to paint five Coonalpyn Primary School children. "In a lot of small towns, people really want to focus on the past and history of the town or the industry," van Helten said. "All those themes I really wanted to avoid". Such a good thing too in my opinion as it meant something more pertinent to the community has been created.” Instagram post

“This is Australia's largest and arguably most commanding mural by artist Guido van Helten on the silos at Coonalpyn in South Australia, visible from the highway between Melbourne and Adelaide.” Instagram post

“very inspiring to see such a beautifully executed monochromatic work with the silo colour the base for his pallet giving this work such a harmony of place. How seamlessly the figures moulded into the architectural forms. The delicate look of the highlights.”

“When I saw it, words just failed me. It's a total show stopper, or at the very least a traffic stopper. This mural is a really big deal for not only Coonalpyn, but for South Australia. Titled "Youth Are Our Future", his silo mural is a first for our state and is simply beautiful. My prediction is that Coonalpyn will become the most photographed town in South Australia.” Weekend Notes

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 23


“Guido makes what is such a mammoth task, not only in size but also in battling with the environmental elements, seem so effortless. Great artist, great work, great company, great day.” Facebook post

“The mural is breath-taking and adds such a strong statement about the town, who they are and what they do. I think the local children are such a vital part to the mural's success showing where their future lies. Well done!” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“unexpected, simple, beautiful. It draws you to it.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“It's an absolute wonder! Pictures don't do it justice you need to see it in real life and you will be in awe.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“The Coonalpyn silos are amazing Guido done an awesome job you can look at it for hours. Seeing hundreds of people stopping and looking at it must be amazing in itself. Go Coonalpyn” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“Kids at the centre of decisions @ Coonalpyn speaks to us all. On way to Opportunity Child National Conference.” Twitter

“The artworks are good – I was involved with Eyes on the Road with my daughter and it was really interesting to see how they (the artists) did it – its really different and it’s not going to be everywhere—the eagle is great.” Resident

“it’s certainly magical” Local trader

“They’re brilliant, they got the right person to do it [the silos] and the others are fantastic too”. Local trader

“I don’t think much of the eagle. But I’ve seen people taking pictures of it. I think the mosaic is nearly better than the silos. It’s pretty good – a few people have said to me that its better than the silos. Some people would have liked something more about farming. [do they understand that its representative of the future?] they probably haven’t thought about that.”

THE COMMUNITY OUTCOMES The cultural and social impact of Creating Coonalpyn on the people of Coonalpyn is discussed in Part Three, however there were a number of outcomes that need to be explained here to provide the context for the impact on the community that followed.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 24


Triggered by the juggernaut of mainstream media and social media coverage, which started the moment Guido van Helten first climbed into the cherry-picker, and which no-one would have dared predict, a change reaction of secondary outcomes also contributed to how the community feels individually and collectively. Some were hoped for prior as desired outcomes and others completely unexpected. Creating Coonalpyn was in some ways a product of its time and made for social and online media, the reach of which has been estimated at close to one billion including articles in major newspapers, high profile magazines, television news coverage, a feature story on ABC’s Landline program and over 1 billion hits on social media worldwide. (see Appendix). “It has been quite incredible to see the momentum build from a public perspective. The project has picked up local, State and National media already, and we have ABC’s Landline coming out to cover Guido’s work on the silos in February 2017, which is a major coup for the project. What I have noticed internally is the confidence this project has buoyed within the team leading it. People are excited about what Creating Coonalpyn is going to mean for the Coonalpyn community, people can see the potential that this has to boost the local economy, and the hype around the project from people in the region is quite impressive as well.” Council Communications Consultant, late 2016

“The artwork caused a lot of attention, more than I expected. This sort of attention had come on previous projects but in this case it caused a larger impact …This maybe to do with…the town’s situation on the highway between Adelaide and Melbourne, and the support of the council on their social media channels.” Silo artist, Guido van Helten

INCREASED VISITATION As a stated goal of Creating Coonalpyn, increased visitation in this context meant taking advantage of the 5000 vehicles that pass through on the main road between Adelaide and Melbourne and giving them a reason to stop. With most of Coonalpyn’s services having disappeared over the last two decades, a handful of traders providing food and beverage to the public were all that remained, all of which are positioned on the Duke’s Highway, which doubles as the main street where it runs through the town. All the artworks are accessible and visible on the main highway. Accurate figures are difficult to obtain, but anecdotal evidence suggests that an average up to 50 cars an hour now stop regularly in Coonalpyn on any given day where previously the figure was closer to 3 or 4. These numbers can triple during peak periods like long weekend and school holidays. Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 25


“It’s very difficult to count how many cars stop – but out of the 5000 vehicles that pass through you probably get up to 600 who will stop each day now depending on the day” local trader

“They thought that people would stop for a little while but a year down the track it wasn’t going to have its effect anymore. But we’re looking at a year down the track now and I come in and I can still see people stopping and coming out of the bakery and here with coffees. I think it’s really good. And obviously its raising interest.” Local farmer Asked about the level of visitors on the Easter long weekend two weeks after the silos were completed, responses indicated that not only was the increase in visitors making a rest stop exceeding expectations, but that some were making a designated day trip: “The Driver Reviver on Friday and Monday was hugely busy. It was surprising how many people just came for the day, just to have a look. They were making a point of stopping this time in Coonalpyn. Not too many people didn’t know about it – they’d heard about it somewhere else so made sure Coonalpyn was the stop.”

“Not unusual to have 50 cars parked there anytime – there are never any carparks available and the toilets can’t keep up. 3-4 cars would have been a maximum before”

“At Easter the whole town was chokkers – cars parked all over the place – we need a pedestrian crossing” Local resident There has been a significant increased demand for carparking, bins, toilets and signage, some of which has been addressed. To a person, locals are worried about pedestrians backing into the highway to take photos and would like more signage to warn oncoming traffic. We understand Council has lobbied SAPOL and DPTI to reduce the speed limit in the town (currently 60km) but it remains a major cause of concern within the community. Some visitors show little regard for the impact they have on the private residents of the mainstreet who regularly have driveways blocked, drones flying overhead and increased rubbish. The existing toilet block, built 40 years ago is now woefully inadequate, and it is fortunate that it was ultimately agreed that the mosaics project would not adorn the outside of the block, but require a freestanding wall, leaving the way clear to demolish the original building sitting behind and build a compliant facility. “You’ve got men lined up into the road, not just the ladies! …and we can thank the lady who tried to get in there with a big electric wheelchair because she couldn’t and everything really came to a head. [The toilets] may have been fit for purpose 40 years ago, but now they don’t meet standards. You can only tell people so many times that the smell is a stock truck!” Focus Group Jan 2018

“the mosaic has been a catalyst for fast-tracking the upgrade of the toilets and we know what we’re dealing with now because we know how many people are stopping and it might not have been adequate supply if it had been done first” Focus Group Jan 2018.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 26


The increase in visitation reached SA Water’s radar and prompted the installation of a drinking fountain, one of three in regional South Australia, providing a free alternative to bottled water. Council had the foresight to plan an event for travellers to be amongst the first to view the silo mural, recognising the potential of Creating Coonalpyn as momentum started to build to work hand in hand with tourism to create a new destination. ‘Silo Sights: RV Basecamp” attracted 100 RV owners who took in not just the silos but the other artworks as well, added their voice to the growing social media, booked out the caravan park for the first time, ate about 240 meals courtesy of football club hospitality and endorsed a niche event with the potential to grow in the future. “It was this camping crowd, coupled with the hundreds of hourly visitors stopping in to check out the progress of Coonalpyn’s giant silo mural, which saw the main street of Coonalpyn overflowing” Council newsletter.

“yep, yep [the RV Festival] helped the footy club…most people said they’d come back to see [the silos] finished. There are so many people travelling - people are just looking for a destination. We’re feeling positive about putting the town on the map” Football Club Representative

“It's a bit bleak here in the summer, perhaps [the RV festival] could be in the spring with farm tours —a chance for people to know that it's a thriving farm community – a bushwalk around Kangaroo Flat Road perhaps – people don’t know that landscape is even there. Nomads like to be in people’s houses and off the beaten track a bit and to meet the locals.” Local farmer Council reports that the caravan park numbers haven’t been affected (aside from the influx for the Santrev development), which seems surprising and would be interesting to monitor in years to come. “This main street has gone from zero to hero through the Creating Coonalpyn regional renewal project. It is awe inspiring to simply admire its flagship project the silo mural, and to see just how many people now stop in this once derelict main street.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 27


CREATE REST STOP FOR TRAVELERS AND REACTIVATE VACANT SPACES Objectives of Creating Coonalpyn included reactivating vacant or derelict spaces and creating an interesting rest stop for travellers in the process. Each project was conceived to improve unattractive public space—railway tunnel, silos, chicken wire fence, vacant lot, old toilet block and disused shop—so Creating Coonalpyn receives a tick in that box. “It looks so much better and it makes you more proud of the town. You come into the town and straightaway it gives a good feel. Before it was dreary—no matter how great the nature around is or how good the people are, it did look dreary. A bit rundown.” Local resident

“We use to live in Coonalpyn 20 years ago and use to hate the long drive home after shopping in Murray bridge. We always use to look out for the tall white plain silos which let us know we were nearly home. Now it’s a pleasure to see the painted silos when coming close to Coonalpyn.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“Wonderful innovative solution to beautify town eyesore and bring community together” Thousands of social media responses, a tripling of main-street trade and hundreds of cars stopping each day all attest to Coonalpyn being more than ‘just an interesting rest stop’—it is now a destination where people not only plan to stop, but choose as a destination in its own right. “The 30-metre mural on the (still operational) Viterra grain silos was the flagship project in Coorong District Council's arts lead regional renewal program 'Creating Coonalpyn'. Artist Guido van Helten was given the keys to Coonalpyn on 1 February 2017. Five Coonalpyn Primary School children on the Viterra silos with the intention to represent Coonalpyn's 'hope for the future'. Trip advisor five star review .

“The artwork has completely transformed this small community from a dying town to thriving tourist destination. Fantastic!” 2017 MainStreet, People’s Choice Voter

“The Coonalpyn Silo Paintings really add to the tourism of the area and is worth a day trip from Adelaide to visit them, they are magnificent.” 2017 MainStreet People’s Choice

“The open garden with the old car in it is just fantastic, topping it off with coffee at the cafe with the view of the silos! My best day trip” 2017 MainStreet SA, People’s Choice

“My plan is to re-visit Coonalpyn … and to see all of the finished art installations. I really can't wait to get back there and spend time in this town again. You should too - it's worth the drive” Weekend Notes Feb 2017:

“I happened to be driving past as he was painting it, just beautiful and have seen it finished. It forced us to stop and look at the whole town.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 28


“I watched the cars stop and noticed that the people in them got out of their cars. They bought coffees, food and drinks. They sat in the local park. They read the Tourist Information boards. They walked, they rested and they took lots of photographs. My 'quick' Sunday morning visit turned into a whole morning of coffees, breakfast, talking to the locals, walking around, and generally not being able to tear myself away from this very special country town.” Weekend Notes February 2017 (during painting):

“It has re-awakened community spirit and brought back a sense of pride and ownership to longsuffering locals. Our main street is now a talking-point!”

“This mainstreet silo icon is the very best thing that has happened, to our small community. Coonalpyn is a stop spot now, not a blink of the eye.” Local Resident

“It conveys the heart and spirit of this special country town and that this is an amazing gateway into South Australia for those travelling west along the highway.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“Love the way the community of Coonalpyn has pulled together to revive itself and create the perfect opportunity for travellers to stop and have a coffee and cake while admiring the skill of the artist who painted the silos.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“This magnificent art project revitalised a town and is continuing to have a positive effect. The silo art tour is actually a thing, I'm told, people travelling from one silo to the next. Wonderful work Coonalpyn!!” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice

“It has revitalised the town, brought tourism to a town that motorists previously drove through well done!” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter Multiple responses include suggestions that Coonalpyn leverage their capacity to become part of the Motor Accident Commission’s campaign for travellers to stop every two hours. “Coonalpyn is only 165kms from Adelaide - just 2 hours' drive on the Dukes Highway. Two hours is the recommended time for taking a break while driving and I really can't think of a better place to stop and take a rest than at Coonalpyn.” Weekend Notes February 2017

“so unexpected and adds to road safety as people get out of their cars to walk around and look at” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“The various artworks, especially the silo mural, have the right location to stop travellers and busy motorists to take time out and refresh their minds and senses on a crucial part of the Dukes highway. It may well even save lives as it plays a role in rescuing people from driver fatigue on their trip between Adelaide and Melbourne.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 29


INCREASE IN MAINSTREET TRADE More concrete evidence of an increase in visitation is available from main-street food and beverage traders who are reporting a 200% increase in trade on a daily basis and 300% during peak periods (school and public holidays). Coonalpyn, with a population of 200 and steadily diminishing services, had a small number of traders catering for visitors just prior to the start of the projects—a bakery/post office, a service station roadhouse, the pub and a quirky roadside semi-popup waffle vendor which was already making a name for itself in tourism circles. A former bakery, owned by a Coonalpyn family but which hadn’t traded since the 1980s, was renovated, using only local contractors, just in time to take full advantage of the anticipated influx in visitors, a risk that has so far paid off. Opening on the day the silos mural began to take shape and employing local staff, the Silos Café was the first new business to open in some time. “Just like to say a big thank you to all our customers. We have been blown away by the fantastic feedback and the lovely reviews. Sharing the excitement with the local residents, the people of South Australia & tourists from all over the country and overseas...words ain't enough to describe it! Guido van Helten, Coorong District Council you have brought a country town to life again.... Thank you!! Coonalpyn Silo Café 4/3/17 Facebook Far from causing existing businesses to suffer, all were reporting significant increases on pre-silo trade with no downturn evident when asked both six months and ten months on. The Roadhouse was closed in October 2017, due to the owning corporation’s focus on a huge motorsport park in neighbouring Tailem Bend, but trade and staff were both soaked up by the other businesses. “the bakery can’t keep up at the minute especially since the BP closed—there are three [staff] in there every day now and there used to be only one. It’s definitely for the better, it’s been upgraded inside too—it was pretty old.” Local resident

Wall mural inside bakery

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 30


“last weekend we sold out – it was just a normal weekend not a long weekend but nice sunny weekend and we sold out of everything – I had to have trucks stopping first thing Monday morning to restock everything.” Local trader, July 2017

“we haven’t seen the downturn for winter at all – its going along almost as good as when we first opened. We have probably 150 people from Mt Gambier and Naracoorte and Penola who come by here regularly” Local trader

“the other day we a few people because they wanted to get away from the kerfuffle down the road to somewhere quieter and they said they would come back with a big group because we gave them great service and they came back with a group of 40 people”. Coonalpyn Hotel

“We’ve had to get more chooks because we’re going through more eggs.” Local supplier

“I’m a bit surprised people are still stopping – we’re expecting it to taper off, but it hasn’t yet. It’s crazy. It seems it’s become a regular stop. And people who live in the city don’t want to stop at a petrol station for coffee, they’re used to cafés. And the waffle stand is quirky in its own way. The more businesses we get here they don’t seem to detract from each other.” Local trader

RECOGNITION OUTSIDE COONALPYN The aforementioned media exposure, which began when people became aware of the silos, but quickly grew to include stories of the community’s resilience, the five other artworks, and the phenomenon of the exposure itself, meant that suddenly Coonalpyn was noteworthy, remarkable and recognised far beyond those who knew it as a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else. The stories explored in the artworks raised interest both in the past and present Coonalpyn— how the journey brought it to this point. This not only had the effect of drawing more visitors immediately, but a building sense within the community that even if people hadn’t already had the chance to visit, one day they would. And it drew ex-pat Coonalpeans out of the woodwork to bask vicariously in the community’s time in the sun. Locals believe the quality of the artwork triggered the media onslaught coupled with the good news story of the town – good news stands out when so often news is bad. The impact on the community was profound, and discussed later in this report. “We socialise in Adelaide a lot and I’ve heard 2 or 3 people say: ‘how are things at the centre of the universe?’ because of all the publicity.” Local farmer

“lots of tradies and truck drivers pull over and take photos of the truck with the silos – it’s not just the tourists - I didn’t expect this hype – it was a bit amazing.” Local trader

“Its put Coonalpyn on the map. I’ve heard people coming from overseas saying they heard about it.” Local trader

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 31


“[The most significant impact] is the way this café has sprung up and been a focal point. We come here often. We socialise a bit in Adelaide and people there are aware of it –They haven’t even been here but they’d heard about it. And with social media, if it had been done 10 years ago I don’t think it would have had the impact.” Local Farmer

“There are so many people who were putting comments up on social media that grew up in the town or who lived here 30-40 years ago saying ‘that’s my home town’. We thought they’d long gone but now they’re popping up as ambassadors for the town popping up all over the joint”. Local resident

“Sitting in the Port Dock Brewery Hotel, Port Adelaide today and people were talking about their visit to the Coonalpyn Silos on the next table. They had come to see the Wonderwalls Festival in Port Adelaide. Great to see Art appreciation.’ Facebook Post

INCREASE IN REAL ESTATE PRICES Having cautioned the community and Council against the whole enterprise being seen as a failure if this lofty goal wasn’t realised, we did however include it as an aspiration to be evaluated. Coorong Realty report that housing rentals driven by Santev chicken farm were short term and short-lived and that whilst some people did see opportunities in the mainstreet and put properties on the market, none were realised. However, NAB Quarterly Customer Spending Trends (Quarter 1, 2018) are interesting to note—of the Local Government Areas, Coorong Council was listed as the 6th fastest growing nationally and 3rd fastest in SA (13.5%) and Coonalpyn in the top 20 South Australian postcodes with spending growth up 21.7% against a national trend of 6.8%. (Nearby Tintinara experienced spending growth of 33.9%). This contributed to SA’s overall spending rate recorded as the fastest in the nation with ‘experiences’ such as arts and recreation showing the largest acceleration. Whilst noting that this information is based on the spending of NAB customers only, that spending data in smaller LGAs is statistically more volatile, that data is based on where the customer lives, not where they spend and that none of this information can be proven to be directly related to Creating Coonalpyn, it does show that the region is displaying confidence and a positive outlook. Relevant Creating Coonalpyn Objectives: ✓

Community indicates increase in visitation as a direct result of Creating Coonalpyn

Provide catalyst for an increase in trade for local business of more than 30%

Traders indicate evidence of increased trade as a direct result of Creating Coonalpyn

Increased recognition outside Coonalpyn

Contributed to Coonalpyn as an interesting rest stop for travellers

Reactivated empty spaces and assisted with improving the streetscape

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 32


PART TWO: IMPACT AGAINST PROJECT AIMS AND INDICATORS PRE-PROJECT COMMUNITY EXPECTATION The majority of people whose responses are included here were involved with the creation of Creating Coonalpyn from the beginning as part of the Arts Group who recognised that their town was in need of a lifeline, and were prepared to do something about it. As such, it is unsurprising that their responses are realistic but optimistic. 12 members responded to a short written survey presented at an early planning meeting. Individual responses to the question “How do you currently feel about your town?” ranged around the following themes: • • • •

‘We need something to bring people together’ ‘It’s sad to see the town slowly dying and morale so low’ ‘Pride, excitement and enthusiasm about the potential of Creating Coonalpyn’ Art Group members tend to be already proud of the town but wish more people were

Asked what they hoped the impact of Creating Coonalpyn would be, responses included: • • • • • • •

Increased reason to be proud Heightened community spirit Increase in happy people Sense of achievement Increase in people valuing Coonalpyn as a place to live or visit Better first impressions Looking forward to seeing what other people think of the town

Asked why they got involved: • • • • •

Every respondent wished to make a contribution to the community Every respondent was already interested in the activity prior (gardening, sewing, mosaics) Most were already a member of a community club Most wanted to have some fun 50% had not been involved in arts projects before

It is interesting to note that when asked what why they had got involved in Creating Coonalpyn, every person indicated a desire for a community-wide benefit, and very few responses hoped for any kind of personal development, although they nearly all indicated they wanted to have fun. Other responses gleaned from anecdotal conversations included letters of support which recognised a downturn in trade and a willingness to support initiatives that reactivate, beautify, lift spirits and change community attitudes to the town. Social media following the launch also indicated strong support, and seemed to indicate a recognition that Coonalpyn was moving forward. “I cannot stop saying how pleased I am that Coonalpyn has so many things finally happening.” Facebook Post

“What a boost for Coonalpyn. Cannot wait to see the final product… I will be watching my old stomping ground with interest.” Facebook Post

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 33


RESULTS AGAINST AIMS AND INDICATORS The following three tables show outcomes against the aims and indicators of success developed at the outset, for three different stakeholder groups: project participants, Council and Project Partners, and the broader community—and the extent to which success has been achieved. The tables show: 1. Original Project Aims and Indicators 2. An assessment of the level of success: o o o o o o

Outcome not achieved Unexpected negative outcomes Minimum level of success Reasonably successful Exceptional outcomes Unexpected positive outcomes

3. How the data was collected before, during and after the project. 4. The Cultural Impact Framework category where further information can be found in the report

Still life in the mosaics workshop: photo Jacqui Foster

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 34


PROJECT PARTICIPANT OUTCOMES KEY Outcome not achieved

Minimum level of success

Unexpected negative outcomes Successful

Exceptional outcomes Unexpected positive outcomes

Aims/indicators

Data collection

Report Reference

Participants were part of the process of developing and implementing projects

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: involvement

There was a mix of people from different groups and sectors

Project data

Connectedness: Networking

Projects had enough entry points for individuals to participate regardless of skill, interests, age

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Interaction

Sufficient numbers participated to make the projects successful

Project Data

Engagement: Interaction

IMPACT

Project provided participants with new and useful skills

Surveys/interviews

Sustainability: anticipation

(what we wanted participants to achieve or feel as a result of the project)

Participants were challenged and extended

Surveys/interviews

Creativity: Innovation

Participants were happy with the outcomes (ownership, pride, achievement, quality)

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Enrichment

Participants felt part of a shared activity

Surveys/interviews

Values: Belonging

Participants made new friends/networks

Surveys/interviews Connecte

Connectedness: Relationships

Participants enjoyed being involved

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Enrichment

Participants learnt new things about themselves

Surveys/interviews

Sustainability: anticipation

There were positive group dynamics

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Enrichment

Participants maintained commitment *

Project Data

Connectedness: Commitment

The artists and participants had good working relationships

Surveys/interviews

Project Delivery

The artists had a rich professional experience

Artist reports

Project Delivery

The mosaic mentee felt the mentorship was a success

Mentee report

Sustainability: Resilience

The photography mentee felt the mentorship was a success

Mentee report

Sustainability: Resilience

Mosaic mentee increased her capacity to lead future projects within the community as a result

Mentee report

Sustainability: Resilience

Photography mentee increased her capacity to lead future projects within the community as a result

Mentee report

Sustainability: Resilience

Participants have an ongoing source of pride and pleasure in being part of something big

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Enrichment

Participants would happily be part of a similar project again

Surveys/interviews

Sustainability: Anticipation

The participants have greater self-esteem, confidence and a sense of achievement

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Enrichment

The participants are planning new projects

Surveys/interviews

Sustainability: Anticipation

PROCESS (what the participants did)

OUTCOMES (what do we want the long term outcomes to be for participants)

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 35


COUNCIL AND PARTNERS : PROJECT OUTCOMES KEY Outcome not achieved Unexpected negative outcomes Successful

Minimum level of success Exceptional outcomes Unexpected positive outcomes

Aims/Indicators

Data Collection

Report Reference

PROCESS

Six high quality arts projects were achieved

Project Data

Project Delivery

(how successfully was the project implemented)

Arts projects attracted a mix of community members from different groups and sectors

Project data

Values: Belonging

Projects had enough entry points for individuals to participate regardless of skill, interests, age

Surveys/interviews

Engagement: Interaction

Sufficient numbers participated for success

Project Data

Project Delivery

Good relationships were maintained with project partners

Interviews

Project Delivery

Enhanced relationship between Council and the community

Interviews

Project Delivery

Good relationship between council project staff and community

Interviews/focus group

Project Delivery

Arts trail for travellers was created and publicised

Project Data

Project Delivery

At least 40 participants learnt new and useful skills

Project Data

Sustainability: anticipation

Reactivated empty spaces/improving the streetscape

Project Data

Creativity: Innovation

Contributed to Coonalpyn as an interesting rest stop

Project Data

Creativity: Innovation

Provided a vehicle for exploring the town’s identity

Surveys/interviews

Creativity: Innovation

IMPACT (what happened as a result of the project)

Provided a community conversation point

Values: Belonging

Increased visitation to the town (cars stopping)

Project Data

Sustainability: anticipation

Increased recognition outside Coonalpyn

Project Data

Sustainability: anticipation

Assisted council to meet aims of Strategic Management Plan

Project Data

Project Delivery

Provided catalyst for an increase in trade for local business of more than 30%

Project Data

Creativity: Innovation

OUTCOMES

Projects can be maintained within developed guidelines

Project Data

Sustainability: Resilience

(anticipated long term outcomes in relation to Council’s future delivery of arts projects)

Council is motivated to plan and support new arts projects

Project Data

Sustainability: Anticipation

Council more equipped to carry out new arts projects

Project Data

Sustainability: Anticipation

Shows Council as a trailblazer through creation of a model for others to emulate

Project Data

Sustainability: Anticipation

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 36


COMMUNITY IMPACT

KEY Outcome not achieved Unexpected negative outcomes Successful

IMPACT (the immediate impact on the wider community (beyond the project participants)

OUTCOMES (anticipated long term impact on community at large)

Minimum level of success Exceptional outcomes Unexpected positive outcomes

Aims/Indicators

Data Collection

Report Reference

Community indicates an increase in civic pride

Interviews/focus group

Values: Respect

Community indicate they enjoy the visual impact

Interviews/focus group

Engagement: Enrichment

Community is satisfied with the community outcomes beyond the artworks

Interviews/focus group

Values: Respect

Community indicates increase in visitation (estimate 1000%) as a direct result of Creating Coonalpyn

Interviews/focus group

Sustainability: Resilience

Traders indicate evidence of increased trade (average 200%300%) as a direct result of Creating Coonalpyn

Interviews

Sustainability: Resilience

Community believe Creating Coonalpyn has provided an interesting rest stop for travellers

Interviews/focus group

Sustainability: Resilience

Provided a vehicle for exploring the town’s identity and a community conversation point

Interviews/focus group

Connectedness: community spirit

People feel connected to the project outcomes and indicate a sense of ownership

Interviews/focus group

Connectedness: community spirit

Community indicate enhanced social connectedness and sense of united community

Interviews/focus group

Connectedness: Relationships

People indicate satisfaction with the project process

Interviews/focus group

Strengths and Challenges

People indicate increased optimism in the town’s future prospects

Interviews/focus group

Sustainability: Resilience

People indicate increased happiness and feeling of wellbeing

Interviews/focus group

Engagement: Enrichment

Projects provided momentum for attitudinal change towards the value of arts projects

Interviews/focus group

Creativity: Imagination

People indicate a sense that the bar has been raised for what the community can achieve

Interviews/focus group

Engagement: Involvement

People indicate they believe the town has an increased sense of vibrancy

Interviews/focus group

Sustainability: Resilience

People indicate they are optimistic that increased visitation can be maintained

Interviews/focus group

Sustainability: Resilience

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 37


PART THREE: MEASURING COMMUNITY IMPACT We now dig a little deeper to describe the IMPACT of the Creating Coonalpyn artworks and other related outcomes on the community, in order to place a value on the investment made. We have done this using the principles of the Local Government Association of SA’s Cultural Impact Framework (CIF) the introduction of which states: “Culture is about who we are, how we define ourselves and how we make meaning of the world around us. It informs everything we do. The role of Local Government has changed considerably in the last two decades, with more and more Councils across Australia investing significant funds in the delivery of arts and cultural activities. Within the context of their expanding role, all Councils endeavour to make wise, intelligent, ‘value for money’ and sustainable choices to make life better for their communities and equally they try to understand the impact of their decisions. Culture is a core pillar for healthy, prosperous, vital and vibrant communities. It intersects with economic viability, environmental sustainability and social wellbeing. It connects people, contributes to sustainable design and development and brings innovation to policy and planning.” The Framework encapsulates culture as five domains with three indicators each: • • • • •

Creativity (Imagination, Innovation, Expression) Connectedness (Relationships, Commitment, Networking) Values (Belonging, Trust, Respect) Sustainability (Tradition, Anticipation, Resilience) Engagement (Interaction, Enrichment, Involvement)

Although some impacts are able to fit under more than one domain, people’s experience and feelings about the changes in the community have been analysed through the prism of these five domains i.e. the extent to which the community of Coonalpyn is now more creative, connected, values based, sustainable and engaged—aspirations that are reflected in parts of Coorong District Council’s Strategic Management Plan as follows: 1.1: Advocate to government agencies and relevant organisations to increase services/programs that will improve the wellbeing of the community and foster resilience. (Sustainability & Engagement) 1.2: Enhance the quality of life of our communities by advocating, supporting and/or undertaking health, recreation development, ageing in place, library services, community development, safety and transport initiatives (Engagement) 1.3: Through leadership and the sharing of knowledge, build the capacity of communities to sustain their ownership of facilities and, where appropriate, renovate or expand their facilities to meet community needs (Sustainability/Connectedness) 1.5 Promote volunteering; encourage, value & support community volunteers (Connectedness) 1.6: Promote active and healthy lifestyles for our communities (Engagement) 2.1: Improve the appearance and functionality of our townships with a focus on connecting key precincts with footpaths, and creating welcoming entrances, some permanent green spaces and attractive town centres. (Creativity) 2.2: Re-inforce country town character by respecting local history and using appropriate streetscape elements & landscaping (Sustainability/Tradition, Values/Respect) 2.3: Promote the use of public art in our main streets & major community spaces, which is consistent with established township themes or will create a key point of difference in non-active areas (Creativity, Sustainability/Resilience) 2.4: Foster the development of local skills to create appropriate streetscape elements for inclusion in main streets and key public areas (Engagement) 3.3: Encourage increased tourist visitation by developing RV-friendly towns, helping businesses with their digital presence, expanding recreation trails and implementing signs/public art that interprets heritage, directs people to attractions & promotes a sense of arrival (Sustainability/Resilience) 3.11: Encourage town-based community, environment, government and tourism information activities to be consolidated, where appropriate, in multipurpose spaces to reduce long term maintenance costs of under-utilised sites ( Sustainability/Resilience)

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 38


DOMAIN 1: CONNECTEDNESS THE LINKS BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS, THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS

CONNECTEDNESS INDICATOR 1: RELATIONSHIPS What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s affinity with each other and with their town, their sense of local identity and community spirit. Over and over again, residents, participants and onlookers observed that Creating Coonalpyn had brought the community together in ways they hadn’t anticipated. People living in small communities like Coonalpyn are used to mucking in and doing what’s needed, serving on committees and contributing their expertise when called for. However, it appears that working together on creative projects over a long period, especially the garden and mosaics projects, has move them beyond those practical relationships. It has given them time for deep conversation, to laugh and yarn, to work together towards something of which they can be really proud and to enjoy planning a positive future together. The joy they’ve experienced as they’ve cemented genuine friendships and personal connections is palpable. It was evident during the focus group that the arts group are very supportive of each other and are quick to acknowledge each other’s talents, some of which have only been revealed through their participation in the projects. They are also conscious that their relationships with their neighbours in nearby towns have improved, and what could have turned into resentment or rivalry, instead appears to have manifested in mutual support for future projects, a genuine interest in what’s going on and to spur them on to pursue their own arts projects.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 39


“[prior to Creating Coonalpyn] I didn’t have you all as my friends. Now I consider you all to be my friends and everyone else who has been part of this …and I can walk down the street and have a conversation with anyone and I find that that staggering how far Coonalpyn has come with those feelings of friendship.” Focus group participant Jan 2018

“This is the glue for the community – it ties everyone together.” Participant

“The way the whole community seems to be working together is wonderful.” Participant

“This fabulous town project in Coonalpyn has not only beautified the township but brought joy, pride, purpose and togetherness to the whole community?” Local Resident An unanticipated, but very significant positive outcome is the pleasure that locals now derive from their encounters with travellers, many of whom are from overseas. “there are people from all over the world, we used to get a few but now there are more international visitors stopping to buy. They used to stop for the loo then zoom off. They chat to us – they’re amazed at the detail (silos) – and they love to hear the back story about the kids.” Local Trader

“There’s definitely a community feel—it gives [visitors] a chance to talk to locals who might be in [the shop]…It’s great how the mosaic is done now and we can send people over there too.” Local trader

“I sometimes go for a bike ride with friends and we stop here for a coffee and we’ve struck up a conversation about the art or the town or something else so it joins up travellers with locals and you can see that on a daily basis.” Local Farmer

“most of us here have found if you happen to be down the street and people are really looking and you smile at them or say gidday, then they twig that you must be a local and I’ve had our photo taken in front of the mosaics and I’m saying I didn’t do this, but they say ‘’you were part of the whole project we want your photo”. Focus Group

“We have met so many interesting people who have stopped, and have heard so many interesting stories.” Local resident Ex-pat Coonalpeans have come out of the woodwork in large numbers, with social media posts of support, basking in vicarious pride and happily acknowledging publicly their previous connections with the town—a source of surprise, but also immense pride for participants. “Time and time again they mention being ambassadors for Coonalpyn, you say you’re from Coonalpyn and people who used to live [here] are into Coonalpyn up to their eyeballs, I’ve not heard one negative thing come from anyone who was a past resident—they all love it.” Focus group

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 40


Whilst the way Growing Coonalpyn had to be dismantled is regarded as being ‘a little bit sad’, it is also acknowledged that it was the project that brought the most people together—people with an array of skills. It involved those skilled in farm trades in both the design and installation, using their particular knowledge, expertise and resources. For many, this was the first time they’d been involved in any kind of arts project and being organic over several months, people were drawn to it as they realised that they had something to contribute. “the making became more and more important than the outcome. In the end we were making something with the community rather than making something for the passing traffic.” Lead Artist

“a whole lot of people came out of the woodwork” Growing Coonalpyn artist

“We had to pull together to work out how to solve problems”. Participant Often community projects are small in scale because of the limited budget and timeframe, but because Creating Coonalpyn was a layered process over a longer timeframe, it had the flexibility to accommodate new ideas as solutions as the community grew more attached to its concepts. The extension of the mosaic project to nearly two years seemed just a natural part of a growing program that shows no signs of stopping any time soon and the camaraderie that developed within the mosaics group over nearly two years could not have been achieved over the originally planned shorter timeframe. “The core group spent many enjoyable hours together and we are sure there was a time warp once you stepped into that room, “I’m only staying an hour and a half!” but you could nearly always double it! We shared many laughs, some tears, personal struggles and some venting over the 3,000 hours. I especially enjoyed our varied ages and experiences and two of the ladies who I’ve known for years as my hairdressing clients are now good friends and this project has filled a void in their lives.” Mosaics mentee blog

“This project has created a driving purpose in the lives of many local women, bringing them together to achieve an incredible landmark for the region and a legacy for their families. We know the mosaic mural will join the silo mural as one of the most photographed sites in SA, but it’s the impact it’s had on our community members that truly shows the success of Creating Coonalpyn.” Council employee Relevant Creating Coonalpyn Objectives: ✓

a mix of people from different groups and sectors

a vehicle to explore and celebrate the town’s identity and provide a community conversation point

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 41


CONNECTEDNESS INDICATOR 2: COMMITMENT What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s sense of commitment to participate and contribute to their community including through volunteering. Coonalpyn was already a community that would ‘muck in and do what was needed’ but it took a leap of faith for people to step into the unknown with organic projects like Growing Coonalpyn and the hugely challenging mosaics project. 90% of mid-project survey respondents agreed they had ‘done something positive for the community’ but by project’s end their responses about their relationships with each other were far more complex. “The street has been developed largely by volunteers in true community spirit, and it is fabulous” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Tunnel Re-Vision was achieved within budget and timelines because “a LOT of people did a LOT of voluntary work around it. Without that I would've been pushing a lot uphill” Tunnel Vision Lead Artist

“People just mucked in and helped people worked hard, especially when it was hailing. The way they took on finishing the mural was amazing. It was a nice thing that although some people couldn’t always be there, they really worked when they were.” Growing Coonalpyn Artist Throughout the two years, monthly arts group meetings would attract close to a full house of 15-17 members each time and, despite being stretched, they readily agreed to meet more frequently to ‘get the ducks in a row’, being acutely aware that the project had been pitched as the saviour of the town and wanting to make sure they did everything in their power to make that happen. “I think people thought something special could come of it, but so much stuff needed to be organised, and maybe they couldn't see how it was going to come together, but they chipped away at this little bit and that, and all of a sudden they were at the end. We were really lucky to have such great volunteers, and they managed to recruit more great volunteers otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.” Local worker Mid project, participants in the mosaics were reporting that the size of the project was challenging, but because they realised that the outcome had the potential to be really special, they were prepared to give the commitment necessary to finish. They also realised it was as much about their relationship with each other, as the project itself. “At the beginning they were excited and in the middle everyone was getting quite tired, with all the hours they were putting in, but they were still really enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to see the end result. So it was the coming together – that’s the key thing.” Mosaics participant And because they are also deriving so much pleasure from conversations with travellers, they’re prepared to go the extra mile.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 42


“Ladies from Kaniva were bringing a bus over to the silos so I offered to meet them—we looked at the silos, Eyes on the Road, Tunnel Vision, and I brought them to the mosaics where the team were working away and they were blown away to see the work in process—[they said] “golly, we’d come for the silos and we wouldn't have known about the other stuff—this is far more exciting” and they want to come back” Local resident

“People themselves are more positive and there’s a can do attitude. People grab more opportunities and do things”, Community member, Creating Coonalpyn documentary film

“The people of Coonalpyn have done a wonderful job of working together to make their town interesting to travellers. A great example of working together.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter A number of survey respondents commented on the commitment and willingness of Council’s works team to respond to requests for assistance and that they ‘seemed to enjoy being part of it’. “The maintenance team are pretty honest – and they would have said if they thought the whole thing was a pain. I think they actually enjoyed it and didn’t think it would be this good. The culture has changed and there are definitely more believers that this can work” Council Maintenance Staff Creating Coonalpyn Objectives ✓

Participants maintained commitment

CONNECTEDNESS INDICATOR 3: NETWORKING What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on constructive personal and community exchanges exchanging knowledge, skills and information. There was a strong sense that the community were really working together towards a shared purpose and learning more about each other and the talents and skills they each brought to the table. A majority of people reported that they encouraged others to become involved, Eyes on the Road had a good mix of older and younger participants who wouldn’t normally come together, the school was able to participate in a number of projects and had artists come into the school, Growing Coonalpyn in particular had a diverse range of participants and people who didn’t previously know each other and people who didn’t know each other before were spending more time together. The formation and continuation of the Arts Group is an important vehicle for constructive community exchange. “People came out of the woodwork and in the end there were about 20 people popping in to help – beyond the four or so who are doing everything. People that the main group didn’t really know.” Growing Coonalpyn Artist

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 43


DOMAIN 2: VALUES WORTH, MERIT AND MEANING AND WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN LIFE.

VALUES INDICATOR 1: BELONGING What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s sense of fitting in and feeling part of the community? This domain arguably describes the most profound impact. Without exception, participants volunteer that they are more connected as a community. People have been encouraged to come ‘out of their shells’ to become more involved in the shared activities, they are reporting ‘a new lease on life’ and feeling good. There is evidence of newcomers able to meet people through their involvement and to quickly have their talents recognised and utilised. “[It’s made a real] difference to the community —lots of different people involved, getting together. If it had just been just the silos—[there would have been] a lot of interest from outside but we wouldn’t have been actually involved. We sit around the [mosaics] table solving the world’s problems and have a lot of laughs while we’re working. People come to the door wanting to have a look and that makes us feel good that we’re achieving something. Being part of the other [projects] has given us all a new lease of life and brought us together. We’re pretty much on a high.” Participant

“It’s made a big difference – its created a push. People now say ‘come on we should be doing this’. There’s a lot more vibe and enthusiasm.” Participant The majority of participants have been women, and certainly they’re the most vocal about their new found friends, but there are two men in particular on whom the impact has been profound— one a long-time resident who has rekindled a joy of painting and found a way to socialise more, the second a newcomer to town for whom the projects were more than just a way to meet people, but an unexpected chance to be really valued in his new community. “We saw his talents – and we stole him for maintenance! And we’ve snaffled him for the show— there’s no escape now Howard! Howard was the great sharpener of our tools and straightener upper leveller of tables and greaser of stuff with the slide cutter—fixer of the door when the lock fell off.” Focus group conversation

“[in the past] I’ve mostly captured images which have no people in them, but now I’ve started to include more people. The Coonalpyn experience is all about people. Quite inspirational” Local resident

“my sister goes to the mosaics once a week just for the social chat”

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 44


Whilst Growing Coonalpyn was the project least recognised by the wider visiting public, as the ephemeral garden had largely disappeared by the time the silos were attracting visitors, it is broadly agreed that of all the projects, it had the most impact on social connectedness and inclusion— it unearthed the most local talent, drew people in who had skills they hadn’t understood to be useful and the new understanding of what arts can be. “In the beginning we said there was going to be an arts group in Coonalpyn and a lot of people went ‘art that’s not me’ —they didn’t realise it was going to be a garden, Eyes on the Road, Tunnel Re-vision, Mosaics – because as soon as you say art everyone imagines paintings. But there was something there for everybody –[the garden was] the lowest common denominator, you didn’t need any skills to contribute. So you could do a bit of weeding and still be part of it.” Participant

“It was interesting seeing the community dynamic – it was surprising who came to help. People were trying hard not to step on each other’s toes. They adapted the concept and loosened it up so that people felt welcome to come and do something of their own. The diversity of people’s input strengthened the final product.” Artist

“the kids in the school painted some leaves and it made a whole artwork so now they’re part of it. A few of the school kids came with their parents to the site outside of school hours which was great.” Artist Relevant Creating Coonalpyn Objective: ✓

participants made new friends/networks

VALUES INDICATOR 2: RESPECT What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s sense of civic consideration and regard for others in the community regardless of the difference? ‘Making a contribution to the community’ was cited as an overriding reason for being involved in the pre-project surveys and there was overwhelming agreement from the focus group that they had achieved this in spades. ‘Pride’ is one of the most commonly cited responses—pride in the artworks, pride that they have self-determined the outcomes and pride in each other’s abilities. “The mosaics is a stunner. It’s awesome, and to think people in this little town made it with their own hands. People ask whether the silos was done by a local artist and we say well no, but the others —the mosaics and the tunnel were, and people go and have a look and love them.” Local resident Civic pride in a community can improve social behaviour and encourage people to care for the neighbourhood and the environment. It’s been nominated as the reason two half-hearted graffiti attempts weren’t worse—and the fact the community is looking at the outcome in a positive light speaks volumes. “Whilst people are angry about it, they’re still pleased that whoever did it just couldn’t bring themselves to deface the actual works – either the tunnel or the silos – it’s just to the side of the artwork” Focus Group

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 45


“The children’s reaction to the graffiti on the tunnel and on the silos was interesting—they were really angry and upset about it and wanted to talk about it at school—they are very protective of the artwork in the tunnel, both their artworks and those of others” Principal, Coonalpyn Primary School

“They [the teenagers] were furious about the graffiti on the silos, so makes me think they’re proud of it and they care”. Parent One participant reported that he was sceptical at first about being involved as he’d ‘been burned before’ helping out people who weren’t respectful but ‘is now ‘coming around’ and prepared to be involved. Traders all mentioned their ability and their willingness to support more local clubs. “most of us support the footy club, but now we’re in a position to support more clubs.” Local trader Non-participants have taken ownership as town ambassadors and are proud of members of the community who made the artworks even if they didn’t participate themselves. “The mosaics are stunning … we had a conversation with a lady here (in the café) and she said ‘it's a pity they laser cut all the tiles. And we said ‘oh no they cut them all by hand…we know the ladies who did it’ and half an hour later she was still there looking and taking photos. I think they’re just stunning.” Local resident

“Gives you a little bit of pride in your town when you get involved. We rounded up the young guys and they loved it [they feel their skills are valued?] yep yep – he’ll be my age one day and he’ll say to his grandkids, I put [the entrance signs] up.” Business owner Creating Coonalpyn Objectives ✓

Community indicates an increase in civic pride

VALUES INDICATOR 3: TRUST What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s sense of confidence in the reliability and honesty of the community – making people feel safe? As a general observation, the community is now so much more closely knit, respect each other’s talents, they support each other and are ‘out and about’ so much more that it’s likely that anything untoward would be quickly reported, discussed and dealt with. There is increased confidence that others are there to support them – whether it’s with a new idea or a problem. The effect of the closure of the BP service station, whilst initially keenly felt, was mitigated by the community’s increased capacity to deal optimistically with a crisis and by the fact that all staff who needed to be redeployed were able to find work with other businesses that were doing well.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 46


DOMAIN 3: SUSTAINABILITY THE CAPACITY FOR THE COMMUNITY TO ENDURE, ADAPT TO AND PREDICT DIVERSE CULTURAL, SOCIAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.

SUSTAINABILITY INDICATORS 1 & 2: ANTICIPATION AND RESILIENCE How has Creating Coonalpyn impacted on making Coonalpyn a community that is well informed, prepared, capable and flexible to act pre-emptively to diverse and changing, local and global, cultural, social, environmental and economic conditions? What impact has Creating Coonalpyn had on people’s capacity and confidence to create value from and respond constructively to diverse challenges? In many respects, Creating Coonalpyn was born of a community who were prepared to act preemptively to save their town from disappearing entirely. So can we say that the impact has made them more so? I think we can. The believers have proven to themselves and others that self-determination towards change is possible and, what’s more, it’s possible through public art. Those categorised previously as ‘nonbelievers’ have either expressed their acceptance of, or their willingness to jump onto, the bandwagon, or are said to ‘have gone quiet’. New-found optimism meant they were able to move on quickly in the face of the BP roadhouse closure, and changes within the mosaic project brought on by the inadequacy of the toilet block were seen as an opportunity rather than a stumbling block.

CAPACITY AND SKILLS The silos aside, all the projects were inclusive and it was possible to participate regardless of skill. However, what was more commonly reported was that there was a huge amount of skill within the community already and many people blossomed in an encouraging environment. Those who doubted their abilities were encouraged to go the extra mile and were chuffed by the results. “I think some sort of doubted their ability, but just got into it and got over it!” Tunnel Re-vision artist

“(For) people who tinkered in all sorts of backyard welding, I think the contact with Laura and Will would have enabled them to think about what they do a notch deeper - push the whole thing further and to be more risky, rather than copying things they’ve seen before…it pushed people to a whole new type of capability.” Artist As the core contributors overall, the 17 member Arts Group made significant progress over the course of the projects in their capacity to think creatively. It is yet another example that the impact of the Creating Coonalpyn suite of projects as a whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts—that the participants have grown in stature and ability from one project to the next. Success has given them immense confidence to tackle new challenges, knowing the rich rewards that can be attained with each new step taken. “The arts group definitely have a better insight, impetus and initiative now – we brought elements of creativity but they have it all there. If anything they are too busy, and have their fingers in too many pies – but if they have time they could easily devote time to managing new projects.” Growing Coonalpyn Artist, 2016

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 47


The capacity of the Arts Group to think conceptually through the brief they presented to Guido for his silos mural showed a maturity that was reached through the process of working through the other five projects prior. Whilst it can’t be proven, it’s unlikely that they would previously have had the capacity to recognise that a carbon copy of the Brim silos concept—which celebrated local farmers and was also painted by Guido—would not give Coonalpyn a distinctive edge, nor would it speak to the specific notions of renewal and regeneration that governed the thinking behind Creating Coonalpyn. Whilst silo murals are springing up all over Australia, Coonalpyn’s still has a distinctive edge through the choice of subject. “It’s been a great experience because the arts groups are doing lots of things we haven’t done before – and people are interested in what we’re doing and want to help”

“We’re all learning a lot of things and it’s great that other people can see what we’ve achieved.”

The mosaics project upped the ante significantly for those who had worked with mosaics before and also brought new participants in who now have the capacity to realise high quality projects of their own. The ‘opus sectile’ method of tile cutting employed by lead artist Mike Tye, where the individual pieces are cut to shape to fit the individual components of the design brought a new level of skill for this self-confessed group of ‘smashers’. Originally sceptical, they grew to see the level of detail, the quality they could attain and the pride they could feel in the outcome. Far from denting the group’s enthusiasm, meeting the challenges were so rewarding, they are motivated and able to plan new arts projects with confidence and have since received a Coorong Council grant to create a mosaic mural celebrating the Coonalpyn Swimming Pool’s 50th birthday with the new project well underway at time of writing. “Well I’ve never done mosaics before and I loved it. I look at a picture now and I think – ‘yes we could do that’” Focus Group

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 48


Re-purposing skills is often just as important as learning new ones, in rural areas especially, where there are many skills people have that they don’t realise are as valuable as they are with the Growing Coonalpyn garden project finding ways to put traditional trade and farming skills to creative use. Two local artists were chosen for mentorships—one to work alongside leading mosaic artist Mike Tye and to take responsibility for the mosaic project on a day to day basis, and the other to document the project through photography. The mosaic mentorship was especially successful and the mentee increased her capacity to lead future projects within the community as a result. “I learnt a lot about myself, organising and networking and communicating with people to make sure we were making headway on this huge project.” “I learnt so much, in my few years’ previous experience in mosaic and lead lighting, I learnt yet another method of doing mosaic – especially on a grand scale! The design process was really interesting and I hope I can do justice to what I’ve learnt in the future.” Marcia Camac, Mosaic Mentee

The photography mentorship, where a local photographer undertook skills development with a professional, was less successful, mainly due to a mismatch between artist and mentor in the planning process. Despite this, the mentee reported positively on her involvement with Creating Coonalpyn as a participant in many of the projects and the process of documenting the projects photographically made her “More confident and more ‘out there’ than before so feel better equipped to contribute” and she felt she had “Made a meaningful contribution recording the development of the project for historic value”. A further mentorship saw Laura Wills and Will Cheeseman partnered with senior community artist Evette Sunset for Growing Coonalpyn, which enabled the senior artist to bring wisdom and experience to the planning stages without the heavy lifting, providing new skills and capacity to the artists working on the project. Creating Coonalpyn has also increased Coorong District Council’s capacity to employ arts as a means to achieve strategic priorities. Community consultation provided the catalyst the establishment of the Creative Communities partnership between Council and Country Arts SA, the building blocks for the Creating Coonalpyn initiative already being in place. With consultation, strategic planning and project development already done at the community level, Council was in a strong position to pitch for the partnership to add an arts professional to Council’s team in time for the planning phase of Creating Coonalpyn at the grassroots level. As reported in the later chapter on project management, having an arts professional involved from Day 1 was crucial to Creating Coonalpyn’s ultimate success—a professional with the wisdom and experience to delve into the community’s heart and discover what motivated them and to tailor the artwork options so they fitted the community like a glove so that the community were challenged but not so far out of their comfort zone as to be fearful or unmotivated. Having an arts professional as part of the team gave the Arts Group confidence to forge ahead knowing they had an experienced arts operator watching their back. If Council is able to build upon this success within its staff resourcing structure, it will continue to grow in its capacity to show leadership within local government to employ creative thinking and innovation to solve community problems, despite its relative size.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 49


INDICATION OF INCREASED OPTIMISM IN THE TOWN’S PROSPECTS Using a creative and relatively inexpensive response to providing an engaging rest stop for travellers has created a level of optimism within the community that big things are achievable despite the town’s tiny population. They believe the increase in visitors and trade is sustainable and that they have the capacity to further build on their current success. ‘…and it will go on, it’s not going to die.’

“We get a lot of positive feedback and it’s interesting to hear how the view of Coonalpyn has changed over the past few months both from visitors and locals. Really happy about that! The feedback from visitors to the town has changed from ‘Why Coonalpyn’ or ‘How unexpected to find a waffle stall in such a dusty/small/boring/etc town’ to ‘What a quaint little town’ or ‘Wouldn’t mind living here’ ‘So much happening here’ A massive change which also mirrors the view of locals. Great stuff!” Local trader

"I don't think it will ever get back to the way it used to be, but it should be able to sustain itself, instead of being a ghost town." Local trader to CNN

“Very often nothing happens after (community arts projects) but this one has continuity and things will carry on. It would be great if there was another chapter to the story. It feels at this stage that there’s a huge amount of potential. There’s another phase that could really consolidate – if it got picked up now and the dreaming started it could really happen.” Artist, Nov 2016

“The lift its given everyone…everyone is excited about everything. Everyone is amazed what’s its done for our little town – it may slow down, but people will still stop. Shows no signs yet of declining.”

“I love the silos. I love the commitment by the local community. I love that Coonalpyn is a country town beating the odds.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“I was involved in the Centenary in 2009…with a goal being the centenary weekend…but the centenary ended…the celebration was an end, whereas this isn’t ending, this is going to keep on going and it’s such a different feel. We’re not finished.” Focus Group

“I think people will be stopping by for years to come. So many are starting their silo trail here and going into Victoria. I think this is going to be here forever. People will still drive through and say ‘what’s that’ do the U-turn and come back. We see it all the time.”

“when I came initially, I was told that the town was on its last legs and there would be only 27 students at the school and there would be no school here shortly. But the town is looking up and everyone’s being far more positive and there’s a general feel that this is a great place to be.” School Principal, Landline ABC TV

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 50


ABILITY TO ADAPT TO CHANGING CONDITIONS Prior to Creating Coonalpyn, the BP roadhouse was the only source of fuel and a significant factor in travellers’ decision to stop at all. When it was closed by the corporate owner in 2017, there was much speculation about the probably negative effects. Six months later, the mood was decidedly positive—staff had all found employment in businesses where trade was solid and the mood was high, a local mainstreet farming business had picked up the fuel, the bakery took the newspapers. What’s more, the community recognises and takes pride in their ability to adapt and change. “Even with BP closing it hasn’t stopped people from stopping at all, whereas before it would have had such a negative effect. Without all this artwork, there would now be no-one stopping.” Focus Group

“When I come into town I can always see people stopping and crossing the main street and taking photos and its beautified something that wouldn't have been looked at before – people are stopping, even though we’ve lost a business, it hasn’t affected people stopping here which has been really good.” Local resident

“New activities that were very visible and were making something of the town enabled people to have faith to keep going. (The artworks are) not by any means the end point - it’s the spinoffs that make the real difference. Everybody is now starting to think outside the square. It’s like a yeast” Project Artist Midway through the mosaic project it became clear the existing toilet block would not be able to cope with the massive increase in traffic, and that attaching the artwork to a structure that would need to be shortly replaced was untenable. Far from seeing this as a stumbling block, the team planned a new freestanding wall, adapted the design to fit and began lobbying for new toilet facilities.

CREATING COONALPYN IS A MODEL FOR OTHERS TO EMULATE The investment of art dollars into the Creating Coonalpyn suite of projects has not only provided long term dividends for the Coonalpyn businesses and community but also provides a recognised model for rural recovery through the arts for other communities. Several communities in South Australia have initiated conversations with Viterra with the intent of installing public artworks on their silos as an activation strategy for their rural townships. “This stunning silo art in Coonalpyn is a fantastic example of how public art can be a huge asset for local communities,” South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

“It changed overnight the viability of a very small community, exemplar for other rural towns.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“Such a powerful demonstration of how art can create such an impact socially and economically.” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 51


“A gigantic new mural is set to knock Kimba's famous giant galah from its perch as the town's preeminent artwork, amid hopes it will mirror the stunning success of Coonalpyn's silomasterpiece.” The Advertiser August 2017

“Like many smaller rural communities, we’re trying to find ways to ensure we remain viable, and we’re hopeful this community public art project will bring more people into our town and more people through our retail store doors,” she said. “We’re looking forward to being only the second town in SA with silo art, and the first on the Eyre Peninsula.” Kimba Resident

“I think people like art and they appreciate it, and when a small community does something other small towns think they can do the same—it gives them hope. Even when its stormy and raining, people are still stopping. It makes me proud.” Resident

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 52


SUSTAINABILITY INDICATOR 3: TRADITION How has Creating Coonalpyn impacted on people’s sense of and capacity to uphold, affirm and renew cultural beliefs, customs, traditions and long held practices including acknowledgement of first nations, heritage preservation and history? Responses to the projects’ contribution to the town’s history and identity have been mixed. In general people are still looking for something more to celebrate the town’s history and identity as a farming region, although most say this doesn’t detract from the artworks themselves. When pressed, all respondents agree this represents the perfect opportunity to develop further projects which delve into the stories that still need to be told. There is a rekindled interest in history, prompted by visitors asking questions. “I’ve had people asked me for more information about Coonalpyn, like ‘what happened with railways, why did they leave’, so there’s more interest in the town, and we were thinking … interest in the history of the town has been generated by the artworks…they’re stopping because of the silos and they understand why the community has done that, but the next step is how did the community get to this point now and what happened previously” Focus Group The re-visioning of the underpass, rather than removal and replacement was an important recognition of the original project and its participants. Tunnel Re-vision involved people whose family members had worked on the original murals twenty years previously. Both lead artist and participants reported how special this was.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 53


“I had been project artist for the original Tunnel Vision project about 21 years ago, so to come back and revisit and revision was very special. This scenario has not really occurred before in my long career. I could see how the community had changed and evolved. Old acquaintances became new friends, some people were completely new, some had moved on or passed away, and I worked with a whole new generation or two at the school!” Project Artist One respondent, a farmer, indicated that the emphasis on Coonalpyn ‘dying’ has been overstated and there could be more public information about the fact the silos are still operating. The fact the conversation is being had, and an achievable solution put forward is a positive indicator of the community’s new capacity for self-belief. “More information needs to be on the silos about what the silos are there for. When we were showing people the paintings we explained that we deliver wheat, barley and beans and they didn’t know there was actually grain in there. And more info about the district would be great because the main street has seen better days and people assume [the town] is poor and broke and it’s actually a wealth-generating business community. If people had some idea that there was $10 million worth of grain or pigs or olives or sheep or wool—just a bit of a celebration to upsell the town a bit.” Local Farmer Relevant Creating Coonalpyn Objectives: ✓

Project provided participants with new and useful skills

Participants learnt new things about themselves

The participants would happily be part of a similar project again

The participants are planning new projects

Creating Coonalpyn is a model for others to emulate

People are optimistic that increased visitation can be maintained

The mosaic mentee felt the mentorship was a success

Mosaic mentee increased her capacity to lead future projects within the community as a result

Photography mentee increased her capacity to lead future projects within the community as a result

People indicate increased optimism in the town’s future prospects

People believe the town has an increased sense of vibrancy o

The photography mentee felt the mentorship was a success

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 54


DOMAIN 4: ENGAGEMENT THE PROCESS OF ACTIVE PARTICIPATION

ENGAGEMENT INDICATOR 1: INTERACTION How has Creating Coonalpyn influenced people’s capacity and opportunity to meet and be with others in the community? Many people reported this as a significant factor in Creating Coonalpyn both anecdotally and in formal surveys. One resident had moved to Coonalpyn just prior to the projects commencement and is very glad he did as he’s made friends and connections he couldn’t have so quickly otherwise. By the time Guido arrived to start work on the silos, other projects had been either running or completed within the previous six months and curiosity was growing. Anecdotal conversations amongst the crowd at the footy club to introduce Guido to the community indicated that ‘it was a bigger crowd than a home game”, ‘the most exciting thing to happen to Coonalpyn in 30 years’ and that ‘lots of people were there who hadn’t been sighted’ at the other projects so far. For some, in particular those who were fully engaged in most if not all the projects, the change has been profound and potentially long-lasting. Interaction with visitors has also been an unexpected additional pleasure. “[back when we started] I didn’t have all you as a group of my friends. Now I consider you all to be my friends and everyone else who has been part of this and the people that can’t be here tonight, they’re all my friends and I can walk down the street and have a conversation with anyone and I find that it staggering how far Coonalpyn has come with those feelings of friendship.” Focus group conversation

“People always ask why we don’t speed up the process with power tools. Not only would it be more tiring, you can’t talk over the noise! It’s much more social to work by hand and chat away. This group talks constantly while they work and it's a lively conversation! We talk about arts projects building social capital – which is really just ‘government speak’ for saying people are spending time talking, really getting to know each other and sharing day to day conversation.” Mosaic Project Artist

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 55


“the number one best thing is the number of people stopping—its good that people stop to see what it’s like to learn more about living in a small town – we’re not just talking to visitors about ordinary things like the weather —it's a really good talking point”

“Being brought closer together was, I think, a special outcome for the participants. Over the course of a year stuff happens, births, deaths, marriages, illness, etc. In my time working with the participants I was aware of how they supported each other outside of the project and my feeling was that this had been enhanced by being involved in the project.” Project Artist, Growing Coonalpyn

“And there’s a lot of people from the community that hadn’t been involved in groups before, like [resident’s name], who hadn’t been involved in anything around the place and they got involved with the garden —they weren’t into art but they found a place that they could contribute.” Focus Group

“it’s about people coming together. At the beginning they might just sit there, but by the end they’re discussing things with the person next to them, and sharing stories and communicating and being part of the rural community, and preventing illnesses. It’s not necessarily what they’re doing but it's a platform for communication” Community worker

“the arts group meetings they have been amazing…they are the most diverse group of happy people that we ever have at any meeting in this town—and the number of people that have come along and been involved in any way shape or form is mind boggling…due to the diversity of the projects…there was something different to interest so many different people.” Focus Group

“One thing I think we all enjoyed was the people that came off the road [while we working on the mosaic]. They’d just knock and say can we come in and I wished that we had a book open for people to write in… we should have had a donation tin! Some people were finding out because of Jo in the bakery and the Silos café and the BP—they were saying there was a mosaic so people were asking where we were”.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 56


ENGAGEMENT INDICATOR 2: ENRICHMENT How has Creating Coonalpyn impacted on people’s sense of positive emotion (happiness), meaning, personal development (developing knowledge) and fulfilment? Creating Coonalpyn has richly impacted the community in this regard. When asked what the most significant impact of Creating Coonalpyn has meant for them, many talked of positive emotion—not just having a bit of fun, but deep pleasure, fulfilment, purpose, laughter as commonplace, immense pride in their achievements and those of their fellow townsfolk and anecdotal evidence that people experiencing hardship were able to experience some positivity. “there are three things that stand out for me – it gave us a purpose, it gave us pride and it gave us pleasure and they’re pretty important qualities of happiness and that morphs all through what we’ve done.” Artist Will Cheesman reported that the process had greatly influenced his practice as an artist. As the project developed, his understanding of the major priority of the project shifted from an outcome based idea (i.e. creating an artwork for passers-by) to one that was important for the participants creating it, and the planning group meetings rang with laughter and goodwill. Pride is one of the words most commonly used—pride in their achievements and those of fellow townsfolk, pride that people from outside are interested not only in the artworks but in them, their journey and history both past and recent and with young people in particular, a desire to keep the town looking good.

“Their (students) overall pride in their town has increased significantly—they want to do their annual clean-up day every term now and they are disgusted when they see litter around” Primary School Principal

“Proud - they still blow you away every time you take the time to stop and look”

“it’s great. Really proud, really proud. To have people really interested in what’s happening and in our little town and a reason to stop.”

“the amount of people that I’d never set eyes on before that were just so impressed – someone said “no doubt about you little communities —you get it done, you put the big towns to shame. I stood up another foot taller and pumped out my chest and went yeah”

“When you’re travelling around the first question is where are you from? We come from Coonalpyn – ‘oh yeah that’s where the silos are painted!’ Definitely a recognition that wasn’t there. Years ago you’d say you came from Coonalpyn and they’d say ‘where’s that?’ now they say ‘I know that place’ or ‘I’m gonna go there’ or ‘I’ve heard about it’, they never used to know where it was.”

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 57


“When we first moved here people said “why would you want to live here? Everyone was talking negatively about their own town. Straightaway after the first project, people were proud of being a Coonalpean—the attitude was really different.” Resident Feelings of general happiness come through for multiple reasons, not least of which is that the cloud over the town has lifted—things have changed for the better and people are motivated to keep it that way. “...our local little town of Coonalpyn has come alive… its brought a huge smile to all our faces…bustling traffic and cameras are alive and clicking…our subway is full of art and colour. Our community is loving every moment and very proud—it has brought us together stronger, Thankyou” 2017 MainStreet SA Awards, People’s Choice Voter

“people are in high spirits, it’s something new – and not much happens that’s new – we’ve been slowly watching the town diminish and it’s been reborn” Local resident

“I think the positivity (is the most significant change). We didn’t have anything to be really excited about for 16 of the years I’ve been here because we kept losing stuff – and all of a sudden we started getting stuff and now I’m scared that there’s going to be an accident but it's a positive that we’re able to have that conversation” Participant

“I always get a buzz when I drive up and people are taking photos of the joint. That’s never happened before and now it happens every time you come into town.”

“It [the artworks] brightens people’s day and brightens my day every time I see it.”

“The best thing? People are happier, there is hope for the town” Research about individual’s state of mind is well out of the scope of this research, however, anecdotal comments indicate that there may have been people for whom Creating Coonalpyn has been able to improve their mental state. “There have been quite a few people who were depressed and unhappy who have got involved and for them things have changed massively. I know of a few that were stressed out because of the projects but in hindsight, they’ve come through and grown. It’s done a lot of good – I can’t speak for them personally but I can see that its happened.”

“I noticed some sadness and hardship close to the surface within the community – it was good to be working on something positive.” Artist

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 58


“sometimes people aren’t in a good place and things like this can turn their lives around” Local resident The caravan park manager expressed pleasure and satisfaction at being host to Guido in the park, loved working on the RV Fest and is looking forward to working on the next one (‘so amazing just so alive’), and loves being able to point people in the direction of the other artworks. “I had a fair bit to do with looking after Guido. I felt wanted and proud to be part of it— when I’m old and grey I’ll be able to say I helped make that happen.” Whilst people still lament the loss of services and grocery shopping, there is a prevailing optimism that things have turned around and will continue to improve provided they keep working at it. “It’s just awesome and the carpark is full and its meant we’ve got more diversity of choices for eating—we used just to have the ugly old push button with the powdered milk coffees now we have real coffee but also healthy highways and the waffles have a verandah so people can sit so its flowed on – its helped most people” Resident

Creating Coonalpyn Objectives: ✓

Participants were happy with the outcomes (ownership, pride, achievement, quality)

Participants enjoyed being involved

There were positive group dynamics

Participants have an ongoing source of pride and pleasure in being part of something big

Participants have greater self-esteem, confidence and a sense of achievement

Community indicate they enjoy the visual impact

People indicate increased happiness and feeling of wellbeing

Enhance Civic Pride

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 59


ENGAGEMENT INDICATOR 3: INVOLVEMENT How has Creating Coonalpyn impacted on people’s sense of involvement, active participation in local issues, decision-making and sense of empowerment? Through participation people have ownership and pride in the new artworks, they reported being positively engaged in the decision making process and surprised themselves that they still managed to undertake all the usual community projects as before. The Arts Group is actively wanting to recruit more people to be involved in decision-making and encouraging more people to bring their talents to the table. “And even though we did the six projects over two years we still did Coonalpyn show, we did all our other committees, we still did Sew‘n’Sews, we did a quilt show for the RV weekend and it was amazing, we volunteered with the food…we still did all those things

“These 6 projects have given our town and community a huge boost in times when we were watching it decline every year. These projects have given back our sense of pride and vision to keep on revitalising our community and its assets or making new ones!”

“I just hope that when we start our next round, that more people will join this group, that we don’t become exclusive…that we stay inclusive…that people understand that it’s not about whether you’re good at drawing or painting it’s about what you bring to it, so if you can twitch wire, that’s a skill that we’ll need”

“I’m certainly not going to bag it at all, it’s probably got the community together in many ways – if there’s a few more happen, then go for it I reckon [you might have to join in] – yeah might have to do something.” Local business owner

Creating Coonalpyn Objectives:

Participants were part of the process of developing and implementing projects

People indicate a sense that the bar has been raised for what the community can achieve

Projects had enough entry points for people to participate regardless of skill, interests, age

Sufficient numbers participated to make the projects successful

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 60


DOMAIN 5: CREATIVITY THE PROCESS OF GENERATING ORIGINAL IDEAS THAT STIMULATE NEW WAYS OF THINKING, BELIEVING AND DOING.

CREATIVITY INDICATOR 1: IMAGINATION How has Creating Coonalpyn encouraged the stimulation and generation of ideas? Arts projects are about generating ideas and Creating Coonalpyn is no exception. The breadth of projects enabled participants to put their minds to a broad range creative solutions within the projects but more particularly, they’re indicating that they have many more ideas up their sleeves to continue Coonalpyn’s growth as a town recognised for its public art. Guido van Helten expressed the hope that he had made an impact on the young through their involvement. The Principal’s response indicates that he did in the most profound way. “In the long term I hope that the project serves as a point of inspiration for young people. I think this is important in rural areas that artwork also be pursued by many young kids alongside sport. I did find that most children had an interest in art but perhaps did it behind closed doors, particularly young males as if it is not a cool thing to do or pursue. I think it would be healthy to change that attitude and perhaps the silo works and other investments in the art can show that art and painting can be accepted more in the mainstream culture of youth.” Guido van Helten

“the kids still talk about Guido coming and he made more impact than the teachers ever could – in response to ‘you’re lucky you can draw’, Guido told them he wasn’t lucky, that he’d had to practice really hard. He instilled in them the concept of persistence and they now take that into their tasks like long division with comments like “I know, Guido said we just need to practice” and they do. They still talk about Guido and the impression he made on them all the time.” Primary School Principal

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 61


Growing Coonalpyn participants and artists reported numerous new ideas and concepts developed during the course of the project, for both major elements and small decorative objects. Participants came up with their own ideas and sometimes worked with artists to bring them to fruition and other times worked on their own. Growing Coonalpyn grew significantly from the initial concepts and is far more complex in design than originally intended. “Evette’s design used the whole block and used Howards initial concept (a maze) that he brought to the consultation meeting and John Barrie came with insects around a waterhole (large machine insects) – so in the end they came up with a concept that was very informed by the locals ideas, and he was really chuffed. But it was too big and would have taken four times the amount of work and would have relied too heavily on community which was an unknown at the beginning.” (Growing Coonalpyn)

“Will had a concept meeting with Howard and was all ready to start making and Howard said he wanted to do it himself. And he took it on and produced the tree and then he made some other stuff based on a conversation we’d had while pulling stuff out of the bin. And he took it off in his own direction.” Project Artist

“The school kids … started using their hands – they came up with this themselves and took on the new idea in their workshop.” Project Artist

“What next will be interesting, there’s plenty of space in the main street.” Local resident

“One of the special things was when the mosaicers took a bit of liberty and a little bee turns up down here and it wasn’t on the plan… we’ve got 3 ladybirds, a snake, a lizard and a love hear… I asked Mike how he felt about [them] and his reaction was …this is now theirs, this is this community’s work and I think the penny had dropped that these tiny little things they’d put in to make it their own really make it [special].”

CREATIVITY INDICATOR 2: INNOVATION How has Creating Coonalpyn encouraged new ways of thinking and increased capacity to use original ideas to develop and implement solutions to do things better. People have realised that ‘art’ isn’t just painting, that there are many different ways to contribute to arts projects, that ‘art’ is more than recreation for a dedicated few and has transformational capacity for individuals and communities. Creating Coonalpyn has opened the way for a growing majority of this community (i.e. all the people interviewed) to recognise arts as a valid vehicle for solving problems across multiple sectors—tourism, community services, volunteering, health and wellbeing, education, regional development. “I think they’ve realised that art comes in many different ways—there’s minimal art, and there’s extremely huge art then there’s the mosaics is an art as well—its pulled a lot of people out of the woodwork who thought they couldn’t do art that have contributed in one of these projects and gone hang on, I can do art – I contributed to that” Community worker Responses from community members interviewed were, without exception, positive with regard to being involved in future projects now that they have a fuller understanding of how their talents

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 62


could be utilised and the impact it can have as a form of community contribution. There is a willingness to help each other out and if this means assisting with an artwork, then so be it. Pennies can be heard dropping in unexpected places. The arts group know this and know they have an even bigger pool to draw upon for future projects. “I’m not very artsy—I’d rather be doing stuff with my hands— I’ve helped with the signs at either end of the town, that sort of thing. Give me an angle grinder and a welder and a hammer. [there’s lots of scope in arts projects if you have those skills – so if we put the question to you again would you be involved?] More than likely, more than likely.” Local business owner

“We want to make the entranceways better, lots more things to be done to beautify the town and art is the way to go, maybe an art project incorporate a bit of that kind of information about the economy of the town.” Resident

“There’s no stopping it. Creating Coonalpyn is a work in progress – the sky’s the limit. The silos aren’t necessarily the pinnacle, just a kickstart.” Local Resident

“In the beginning people were saying ‘what’s that going to do for the town?’. I think we’ve shown what it can do. They saw the process happen and I think that opened people’s eyes. There were some who were dead against it in the beginning.” Focus Group participant)

“I just hope that it has instigated a can-do attitude and to keep the ball rolling. I think it will. There’s a couple of whispers here and there that people are starting to have new ideas. Its positive. It will happen. I do think overall people feel differently. People overall are very practical, but they do see that the art has brought good to the town.” Local resident Through their participation in Eyes on the Road, the Tintinara Men’s Shed members reported pleasure in solving the problem of how to manufacture the metal tabs and have now developed a new piece of equipment that they can use for other applications. A number of people have recognised that their artworks have given them the capacity to leverage the Motor Accident Commission’s message to drivers to stop every two hours. “I’m in the CFS so we go to road accidents—the nature of the artworks here is that people generally have to get out of their cars and walk around to see them, so you’re two hours from Adelaide so people get out to take a break, freshen up and off they go again. I think the Motor Accident Commission should be thinking that’s exactly what they want people to do—to stop every two hours and people are doing that.” Local farmer Several times those interviewed raised the option that the Arts Group take the place of community service organisations that drive community projects and events, with the added advantage that all monies raised go straight back into community projects. “Our progress association had folded, but we’ve said in our meetings that this is now going to be the group that will be our progress association—we have no intentions of stopping here. We’re the progressive group, we’re not the progress association” Arts Group member

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 63


The artists all recognised that Creating Coonalpyn had set the community on a new path and expressed optimism that they would continue on the journey. “I hope the community continues to think creatively and that an investment in art, not only in community but especially in the youth is continued—I believe that the [silo art] work could influence children of future generations to invest a real interest in creativity and painting.” Project Artist

“It’s not necessarily about arts but about creativity, which everyone has – you don’t have to be an artist to be creative, it’s about ingenuity—[these] people often don’t value the practical skills they have or how ingenious they are, but they’re starting to.” Project Artist

“The town will live now – you can’t ask for more than that. The whole township is set on a different footing. The town has turned a corner about why it thinks it’s there—it has been a farming township—through this they will be able to dream up an unbelievably wide range of activities and reason for people to come to Coonalpyn. There are many examples of where people flock to the town because of the arts there and Coonalpyn is well placed now to become such a place.” Project Artist The success of Creating Coonalpyn appears to be now a go-to part of their marketing toolbox. In information provided to the public about both Coonalpyn and to broader operations, there is an indication that some Council staff recognise the value of using Creating Coonalpyn as an indicator of Council’s capacity to act and think innovatively in carrying out its operations— An example of this is Council’s use of the silo images and the text, ‘we are an inspiring, innovative and award winning council’ in the advertisement for council positions in risk and environmental

health within several months of the silos completion . Creating Coonalpyn is prominent on Council’s webpages—key front page images and video, and Council have defined Coonalpyn by its arts projects, using the public art trail and the silos as the main attraction. It remains to be seen whether the community are able to capitalise on these first steps and maintain Council support to employ arts as method for further growth. “This project has exceeded everyone’s expectations, with online engagement alone reaching more than half-a-million people internationally. “Investing in art is new for our Council, and it’s paying off in ways we never imagined. Our youngest residents are showing a sense of excitement about their town’s future, and renewed hope for what they can achieve themselves – a reflection of the mural’s theme.” Coorong Council CEO Asked if there might have been another solution to turning the town’s fortunes, people generally responded that they couldn’t imagine another solution that would have been so successful for the investment. “I don’t think we could have had a better option given the effect this has had—it’s been so positive. It’s not costing anyone to stop and look and they spend money on food and catch up with to the locals and read about the town, so this was probably the best way. If it cost people something to do or see, they might not stop here. And there are ways of building on this one to keep it going and to build on the skills that people now have.

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 64


CREATIVITY INDICATOR 3: EXPRESSION How has Creating Coonalpyn increased people’s capacity to communicate/express values, beliefs, traditions, perceptions and ideas in diverse ways. Coonalpyn always had a core group for whom arts and crafts have been an important part of their identity. Through Creating Coonalpyn, they have been able to prove to themselves and to the wider community that ‘arts’ is so much broader than a recreational pursuit for the interested few and that visitors respond to stories told in a creative way. People who are committed to community service, but have never considered taking part in arts projects have realised that they have skills to contribute that benefit community. The evidence suggests that it cannot be assumed that the need to express values, beliefs and perceptions is recognised by everyone as a starting point—so the question becomes more one of satisfaction derived from community contribution. “People’s expectations outside the arts group were probably completely different—expecting something similar to what they’d seen elsewhere. But you’ve just got to be happy with what’s there and people are stopping and going ‘wow look at that’. You’ve got to look at the big picture. If we did have five different older farmers then we might have disputes about who was up there. That’s been taken out of our hands in a good way.” Local business owner

“It’s (the kids on the silos) not what I imagined —it took an artist’s brain to come up with it. I think that’s half the reason people are intrigued by it—they loom over you mysteriously.” Local resident

“The artists in the school were amazing – Laura opened their eyes about new ways of doing things —‘art isn’t just drawing and painting’ —it had a big impact on them and they know there are so many different things that can be called ‘art’.” Schoolteacher Locals, especially the traders who come into daily contact with visitors, are proud and willing to explain the finer points. “I’ve explained the story of the children on the silos representing an optimistic future quite a bit here and they go wow, when you say it like that, its brilliant.” Local trader

“initially people who had lived here for ages were a bit unsure that the aim was going to be delivered, but from what I can see, they’re surprised that it has.” Business owner

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 65


One teacher reported that the school involvement had been wonderful and had engaged children in ways not possible before. In one particular example, a child ‘in quite a dark place’ had responded positively to the artist and ‘drew an amazing picture’ for her – something not seen before. In relation to comments about still having gaps in the Coonalpyn’s historical past being told, it was suggested that new arts project could address this: “just because there isn’t a big sheep or representations of agriculture (which would be the essence of Coonalpyn to me), doesn’t mean that’s what you should have there. Because every town can have a big sheep.” Local farmer Participants in Growing Coonalpyn enjoyed thinking outside the square to tell a local story: “There was this dance between art and landscape gardening and the use of ‘junk’ and people started to realise what the artists were contributing – that the stuff was still junk, but it made sense the way it was used.” Project artist

Relevant Creating Coonalpyn Objectives ✓

Provided momentum for attitudinal change towards the value of arts projects

Participants were challenged and extended

Provided a vehicle for exploring the town’s identity

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 66


APPENDIX ONE KEY ONLINE, PRINT AND SOCIAL MEDIA The social media reach for Creating Coonalpyn has been estimated by Council’s marketing contractor Commshake at close to one billion*. It is mentioned here because part of the impact of Creating Coonalpyn on the community is related to the impact social media has had on its wider recognition, on Coonalpyn’s status as a visitor destination and consequently on visitor numbers. The phenomenon of social media came at the right time for Creating Coonalpyn. Creating Coonalpyn was a product of its time and made for social and online media, the reach of which has been estimated at close to one billion including articles in major newspapers (including the front page of the Advertiser), high profile magazines (SA Life and Women’s Weekly), television news coverage, a feature story on ABC’s Landline program and over 1 billion hits on social media world-wide. (Media links attached). A feature story in Fleurieu Living Magazine, written by the author of this report, is included in the five Significant Change Stories. (see Appendix for examples and further information). The figures are based on conservative anecdotal estimates, based on projected readership and image recognition across various platforms. This includes publications on both social media and online news platforms – this includes (but is not limited to) up to the end of 2017: •

• • • •

mass media online coverage and social shares, including those by The Advertiser, News.com, Women’s Weekly, BBC, CNN, Stock Journal and other local media – the cumulative estimated reach from these alone has an estimated 1 billion people* Coorong District Council’s social media reach on the project, cumulative (facebook, Instagram, YouTube) Artist Guido van Helten’s social media Creating Coonalpyn’s Instagram Frame Government stakeholders social media engagement – including Brand SA (most popular post for the year); SATC, Country Arts SA, (then) Premier Jay Weatherill and others

Figures do not take into account which are difficult to estimate: • • • •

personal social media accounts ongoing tourism blogs, travel online articles television such as ABC Landline

* digital edition of news published, not taking in to account the social media mentions. these figures were calculated based on the following: • • • • • • •

CNN’s two dozen branded networks and services are available to more than 2 billion people in more than 200 countries and territories CNN Digital is the number one online news destination, routinely registering nearly 200 million unique visitors globally each month (Creating coonalpyn scored an online article, and other ‘mentions’), In 2017 the BBC reached a record weekly audience of 372m around the world. Coonalpyn Silos picked up a run there. News.com have an estimated 5.5m Australian readers— with five (or more) articles published on Creating Coonalpyn Advertiser online – approx. 130,000 / day (x 4 articles) Advertiser print – more than 730,000 each week ABC – national, State and local radio + digital online + social media shares (upwards of 10million nationally)

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • APPENDIX • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 1


CREATING COONALPYN TOURISM A downloadable Coonalpyn Arts Trail – brochure also available from businesses in coonalpyn Coorong council Trails and Walks Downloadable “Coonalpyn arts trail’ listed under Walks and Trails Coonalpyn RV Fest: Silo Sights Basecamp

KEY SOCIAL MEDIA Brand SA (Tourism SA) January 2018: Most Popular Instagram post for 2017 Creating Coonalpyn Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/creating_coonalpyn/ “The stunning silo art in Coonalpyn is a fantastic example of how public art can be a huge asset for regional communities, attracting visitors and boosting economic activity. That’s why a re-elected Labor Government will establish a $500,000 regional street art fund to reinvigorate country communities, create vibrant public spaces and attract even more visitors to our beautiful regions.” (Then) Premier Jay Weatherill—Facebook post February 2018 Drone video published on 31 Mar 2017 by Brentyn Wakefield “here is an edited version of my 12 minute video I did at Coonalpyn, let me tell you the pub across the road makes a wild rump steak” drone video Published on 12 May 2017 by Pete Dobré “I spent my Easter filming the Silos at Coonalpyn. I loved capturing the creativity of this gifted artist Guido van Helten. The attention to detail is wonderful and the more of these that are done over time, the better.”

KEY PRINT AND ONLINE MEDIA LOCAL MEDIA Coorong Council’s own website has a dedicated page to Creating Coonalpyn – includes a link to the Council made documentary, link to Coonalpyn Arts Trail brochure https://www.coorong.sa.gov.au/creatingcoonalpyn Flow FM Radio December 2017: Mosaics Ready to be Revealed

STATEWIDE MEDIA (ADELAIDE) The Advertiser June 2010: Residents battle to save historic Coonalpyn The Advertiser March 2017: Coonalpyn grain silo artwork by Guido van Helten, showing portraits of five children, finished [includes 1:39 drone video and links to 3 previous stories. “How Coonalpyn turned to art to get itself back on the map”, Feb 2017 Brisbane Artist Chooses the theme ‘Youth are our Future”, Feb 2017, Meet Kiarah Leske Murray Valley Standard, March 2018 Coonalpyn Silos Inspire Labor Street Art Fund

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • APPENDIX • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 2


Fritz Magazine March 2017: Why Silo Street Art Makes Coonalpyn South Australia’s Most Photographed Country Town Weekend Notes: article by Paula McManus March 2017: South Australia’s First Silo Mural

NATIONAL MEDIA Daily Telegraph (Brisbane) February 2017: Guido chooses theme “Youth are the future” to decorate five 30m high grain silos at Coonalpyn ABC Landline Episode March 2017 (rebroadcast December 2017): Episode, Creating Coonalpyn: A giant artwork revitalising a South Australian town (19mins) ABC News Online March 2017: Coonalpyn artist Guido can Helten finishes off massive silo canvas project Limelight Magazine Feature story April 2017: Grain silo murals put coonalpyn on the arts map ABC Behind the News: Story and Teacher Resources – Coonalpyn Silo Art

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA CNN February 2017: Concrete giants: Arresting figures appear on rural grain silos BBC World News Australia February 2017: The Street artist who paints wheat silos Documentary produced by Coorong Council follow the journey midway through the creation of Creating Coonalpyn projects (March 2017)

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • APPENDIX • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 3


APPENDIX TWO AWARDS The sheer number of these hard-to-win awards shows the extent to which the public imagination has been captured by the achievements of this small community. • • • • •

• •

2017 Ruby Award for Community or Regional Impact under $100,000. The Ruby Awards are the state’s most prestigious arts awards and highly competitive. Best Regional Main Street Award: Mainstreet SA Awards 2017 Outstanding Partnership Award: Mainstreet SA awards 2017 2017 Local Government Professional Australia, SA Leadership Excellence Awards Community Partnerships and Collaboration- Coorong District Council Creating Coonalpyn Team 2017 LGA Outstanding Partnerships Award Winner – Partners: Coorong District Council, CASA, Artist Guido, Coonalpyn Primary, Local businesses: BP, Silos Café, Olivers, Coonalpyn Hotel, Viterra Group Short listed for the South Australian Tourism Industry Council awards in the tourist attractions category National Awards for Local Government (Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development) Category Winner – Art Animates–excellence in capacity building and innovation – Creating Coonalpyn. Local Government Professional Australia, SA 16 th Annual Leadership Excellence Awards – Category Innovative Management Initiatives ‘Coorong District Council Accidental Art Gallery Team’

Creating Coonalpyn • Final Evaluation Report • 2018 • APPENDIX • Evaluation Consultant: Jo Pike

Page 4


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.