A country town has come alive during a recent night festival, as part of an RMIT project helping reinvigorate the Latrobe Valley.
Morwell, in the state's south-east, played host to an eclectic array of market stalls, workshops and performances showcasing the food, culture and people unique to the Latrobe Valley.
The region's art and design talents were also on show on the facades of local buildings and shop fronts as part of the Illuminate Projection Festival.
The Winter Night Festival is one of many initiatives that OUTR is championing as part of the "Transiting Cities: ReActivate Latrobe Valley" project, which aims to reconnect the community with creative individuals and small industries living and working in the Latrobe Valley, in Victoria's Gippsland region.
The initiative was recently awarded $113,000 in funds from the Victorian Government.
Partnering with the Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House, OUTR has also announced plans to bring to life one of Latrobe City's most significant historical sites.
Over the next 18 months, the community will work alongside project organisers to transform the disused Victorian Railways Institute (VRI) space into a hub of community engagement.
The VRI Hall has a long history as a place for people to come together, and for Project Manager of the Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House, Joh Lyons, it is this legacy which has inspired the enthusiastic input of members of community into the project.
"The community have been involved in this project from the start. There has been an active working party that has supported and guided the process," she says.
"Many conversations with a range of services, education providers and local businesses informed the plan developed by OUTR and it has been received with enthusiasm."
From yoga classes to an outdoor cinema, the convertible space is designed to accommodate up to 20 community activities simultaneously through a functional curtain divider.
In collaboration with the Latrobe Digital Shed, project organisers have also conceived a variety of key initiatives designed to engage rural youth.
"Our community has high youth unemployment and many young people need to move away for work," Ms Lyons says.
"We aim to provide an alternative by developing creativity, skills and network to solve local problems through participating in global opportunities as well as the potential for doing viable work online."
Associate Professor Rosalea Monacella is Co-Director of the OUTR research laboratory, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Architecture and Design, and a member of the RMIT Design Research Institute.
Associate Professor Monacella hopes the communal space will facilitate greater opportunities for the community to create and connect.
"Not only will the project give value to a space of great significance to the people of Latrobe, it will act as an incubator for ideas and an alternative environment for people to engage in rural areas," she said.
Projection images of Gunai / Kurnai Shields by Aboriginal artist, Ronald Edwards.
Projection images of the work of Students of Leongatha Secondary College at the festival.
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