Fairfax Youth Initiative is a series of workshops, activities and performances specifically for young people aged between 12 and 17 from regional and remote Australia.

Beginning in Swan Hill, in 1997, the Fairfax Youth Initiative is held annually in memory of George Fairfax, who grew up in Nangiloc, a small town in the Mallee region of Victoria.

He was well known for his support and encouragement of activities that involved young people in the arts, especially through places like Melbourne University, the Victorian College of the Arts and St Martin’s Youth Arts Centre.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative has three distinct phases:

  • Four days of in-community workshops to assist secondary school students to create a 10 minute micro performance piece.
  • Two and a half days of rehearsals and workshops in Swan Hill, Victoria.
  • A final community performance at the Swan Hill Town Hall showcasing the new works created, as well as any new specialist skills learned during the week.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative connects professional arts practitioners with youth and their leaders to develop practical performance skills, technical understanding and to create diverse and professional quality theatre work.

The event process promotes skills development, access and inclusion across a wide range of social demographics and communities for young people and their leaders.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative’s philosophy has always been that no child should miss out on this life changing experience because they don’t live in a big city, come from a low socio-economic background or have physical or learning disabilities.

To place isolated young people and the issues facing them at the heart of the creative process. By connecting them with artists and like-minded peers our mission is to provide life changing experiences which foster the growth of the arts in regional communities throughout Australia.

  • Accessibility to the arts for all young people irrespective of location, cultural background or abilities.
  • Expressing young people’s stories within an environment of creativity, respect and encouragement.
  • Collaborations between professional artists and young people to increase the presence of arts within regional communities.
  • Mentoring young people who wish to pursue a career in the arts
  • Creating an environment for young people to realise their own potential as storytellers and theatre makers
  • Cultivating connections between arts communities which reduces the sense of isolation within young people and challenges beliefs and stereotypes.

The Fairfax provides isolated young people living in regional areas of Australia with the opportunity to engage in arts experiences frequently unavailable to them.

The Fairfax believes that young people from the country should be given every opportunity to imagine, discover, share, create and belong. Through collaboration with professional artists and engagement in workshops, events and arts programs young people develop their skills in a variety of art forms and practices.

The result is not only an annual presentation of new Australian theatre with a uniquely young Australian voice, but also an increase in creative thinking, self-worth, mental health, self-determination and confidence among young people from the country.

The Fairfax brings top Australian actors, directors, filmmakers and musicians to the country.

It gives young people and their leaders the chance to learn from the best in a series of

In-community workshops, before bringing everyone to Swan Hill in September for 2 and 1 / 2 days of learning, fun, workshops, performances ending with a Gala showcasing the schools performances.

We realise that there are simply not enough hours in the day especially for teachers and parents.

So we come to your community.

In the months leading up the Fairfax we will work with you to find the best time to send our artists to you [wherever it may be] and help your group create their piece.

Then for one week in September everyone travels to Swan Hill, Victoria to learn how to sing, dance, juggle, walk on stilts, act, read Shakespeare or any number of things that they wouldn’t normally get to do.

Here are a few things that previous leaders have said about how the Fairfax changed their group

  • improved creative thinking
  • made them more receptive to different people, attitudes and cultures
  • improved their self-worth
  • improved self-esteem and confidence
  • improved their communication skills
  • improved their ability to think about things/ideas from different angles
  • created heaps of new friendships

Many of our leaders are librarians, PE teachers or parents who don’t have arts on the school curriculum or have don’t community theatre/arts groups, so the Fairfax is their one chance to let their creative hair down without fear of judgement or prejudice.