Big Stories, Small Towns: Beaudesert

Potter, Martin, Hegedus, Peter, Ryan, Samantha, and Cavanagh, Elijah (2014) Big Stories, Small Towns: Beaudesert. Big Stories Co., VIC, Australia.

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View at Publisher Website: http://bigstories.com.au/towns/beaudeser...
 
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Abstract

Big Stories, Small Towns: Beaudesert is a transmedia documentary series produced in 2014 that is part of the Big Stories, Small Towns project (http://bigstories.com.au/towns/beaudesert).

Big Stories: Beaudesert was designed to extend on a series of initiatives that addressed the complex history of Beaudesert and the shared, but often conflicting, histories of Indigenous, settler and Vanuatu and South Sea Islander groups who live there. 2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the arrival of South Sea Islanders as indentured labourers in Queensland to work on cotton and cane plantations. Many of the labourers were taken to work in Beaudesert, around 90 kilometres from Brisbane. To commemorate this, a series of events were held culminating in This is Our Story - a community commemoration held in Beaudesert in August 2013 on the site of the original cotton plantation outside of the town where the first indentured labourers were brought into Queensland. The project emerged from a series of consultation and dialogues led by the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute of Australia (PACSIA).

During PACSIA’s work with Australian South Sea Islander groups, the Mununjali Traditional Owners, descendants of original plantation owners, current landowners, the Historical Society of Beaudesert, artists and other interested Beaudesert community they discovered a wealth of stories and experiences which are central to the identity of the community. PACSIA and Scenic Rim Council workers identified Big Stories, Small Towns as a mechanism to facilitate the telling and sharing of these stories.

The Big Stories project aimed to build on the substantial work of the 150th commemorations with the intention to:

• facilitate the Beaudesert community to tell their stories, • explore the diversity of people and stories in the community, • shine a light on people who create and care for their community, • enable the community to reflect on shared history and experiences and develop of a shared vision for the future, • articulate Beaudesert stories to other communities and broader audiences.

Ultimately the aim through the process of facilitation of storymaking and reflection on these stories was to further connect the community through the process of creating and reflecting on their shared stories.

The Big Stories team, led by creative director and producer Martin Potter with lead filmmaker Peter Hegedus, co-producer Samantha Ryan and local filmmaker Elijah Cavanagh delivered participatory media workshops for Beaudesert community members and produced a series of documentaries, photo essays and local events and exhibitions. As creative director and producer I was responsible for defining the key story threads and participants, the production process, developing all partnerships, resourcing the project (in terms of financial and human resources), project management , monitoring, evaluations and acquittals. The project was funded through the Scenic Rim Council, the Queensland Government’s Regional Arts Fund Artslink and the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Development Fund. The project was supported by the University of Queensland’s Centre of Communication for Social Change, the Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia, the Vanuatu Australian South Sea Islander Community Inc., The Centre Beaudesert, Munanjali Centre, Beaudesert and District Arts and Community Projects and the Griffith University Film School.

Further information: Beaudesert Launch: http://www.liveatthecentre.com.au/Big-Stories-Small-Towns-pg29286.html

Article by Samantha Ryan: http://www.waccglobal.org/articles/co-creative-processes-in-the-big-stories-small-towns-film-project

Griffith University article on Big Stories: Beaudesert: https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/news/2015/02/11/beaudesert-a-small-town-with-big-stories/

UQ Centre for Communication and Social Change articles on Big Stories, Small Towns http://uq.edu.au/ccsc/centre-collaborates-big-stories-small-towns http://www.uq.edu.au/ccsc/participatory-media-production-students

Research Seminar – Big Stories, Small Towns Beaudesert: participatory media production and the construction of audience. https://communication-arts.uq.edu.au/event/280/big-stories-small-towns-beaudesert-participatory-media-production-and-construction-audience

Research Statement

Research Background Stories can be used to build cross-cultural understanding (Ryan 1995) and for reconciliation (Jackson 2013). In 2013 a program of reconciliation events was part of the 150-year commemoration of 'blackbirding' indentured labourers to Queensland. It became the basis for Big Stories, Small Towns: Beaudesert. The research investigated if, through the telling of stories from multiple perspectives using participatory media, a community can commemorate contested, traumatic histories and engage with this history.
Research Contribution Big Stories, Small Towns: Beaudesert is a transmedia documentary project focusing on stories from Beaudesert. As creative director and producer, my work focussed on the impact of participation in media making and defining the process and principles of production. The result was a multi-vocal first person archive of experiences touching on aspects of the town's conflicted, complex history. Key story threads explore inter-generational concerns such as young children understanding Beaudesert histories, an Indigenous Young Men's Group and Blackbirding of Vanuatu and South Sea Islanders to the area. Outputs include a community exhibition, film screenings in Beaudesert and Brisbane and online archive. The subject matter of the films (directly addressing local histories), the high level of community engagement through both production and screenings, the online, local and national archiving of stories and the continued use of the work in various settings indicate that the project has supported some commemoration of local history.
Research Significance This project drew on partnerships with diverse stakeholders in the community, universities, local, state and federal government. The project launch in Beaudesert drew over 1000 people. The project has been used by universities (Griffith, UQ and JCU) as a model for participatory media. The research received funding of $50,000 from Scenic Rim Council, Queensland Government's Regional Arts Fund and Australian Government's Regional Arts Development Fund.
Item ID: 52671
Item Type: Other
Keywords: transmedia, documentary, digital storytelling, oral history, community media, participatory documentary, participatory media, transmedia documentary, beaudesert, blackbirding, mununjali, Vanuatu and South Sea Islanders
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Additional Information:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following works may contain images and voices of people who have died.

Funders: Regional Arts Development Fund (Queensland Government), Regional Arts Fund (Australian Government), Scenic Rim Council
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2018 23:38
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190205 Interactive Media @ 40%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services @ 30%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200103 International and Development Communication @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 40%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media @ 30%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8904 Media Services > 890403 Internet Broadcasting @ 30%
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