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Castlemaine State Festival

  • Project: The ASCEND Program
  • Amount: $90,000 over three years
  • Year(s) Funded: 2016

Nurturing creative pathways for Central Victorian children and young adults

This multifaceted year-round project engages and connects young people, children and their families with creativity in a long term sustainable way, building literacy and vocational opportunities

Loomusica, 2015 Castlemaine State Festival. Photo: Pen Tayler

“The impact of HMSTrust’s multi-year grant has had an immediate and positive effect. For the first time we are able to engage a skilled Education Coordinator, giving the necessary time and vital experience to connect deeply with participating children, schools, parents, carers and artists.” Martin Paten, Festival Director, Castlemaine State Festival.

Regional communities have limited capacity to access professional cultural experiences. The ASCEND Program provides a pathway throughout the year, for children and young people within the Mount Alexander Shire, to experience ongoing creative programs that focus on literacy’s broadest definition: giving children the opportunity to express themselves through captivating storytelling, music, visual arts, media, drama, reading and writing programs.


  • A year-round signature program of literacy-focussed arts education reaching 2,000 preschool, primary and secondary students over three years.
  • Lays the foundations for pre-literacy development for children in early and formative years, particularly 0-5yrs.
  • Establishes and strengthens collaborations with key regional health, community, education and cultural organisations in the Central Victorian region.
  • Improves opportunity for teachers and families to participate in creative programs.
  • Ongoing commissioned data capture by LaTrobe University’s CSF: Arts in Education Research Project will continue to provide documented findings for sharing and learning as well as inform program engagement and development.