The Venny Project

A cross-cultural arts education project that develops skills and fosters self-confidence.

The Venny, Kensington. Photo credit: Daisy Noyes

The Venny is a supervised communal backyard and drop in centre for all young children of Kensington, with an emphasis on those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Venny provides children and their families from the Kensington High Rise Commission Housing and the local area with a communal backyard, complete with chooks, guinea pigs, trampolines, cubby houses and more.

The partnership stands as a model of best practice in the delivery of an arts based community outreach project. The high quality and extensive experience of all the artists and staff involved ensured an extremely satisfying and engaging artistic experience for the young people of The Venny.

The commitment to a long-term partnership conducted over seven years maximizes the benefits of the project for all involved. The partnership offers the children of the Venny the hallmarks of a high quality community based arts partnership including artistic excellence, child-led art making, the genuine transfer of skills, enhanced community connection, positioning children as cultural leaders, increased social well being and access to safe and welcoming environment. In 2015 and 2016, we deepened our work with the children of the Venny with weekly music lessons for small groups, focussing on three areas: bass (electric guitar and other stringed basses), voice and ukulele and percussion (including African drumming). 

These lessons culminated in a concert performed by the children of The Venny in December 2015 and in September 2016.

In 2017 the participants have been working towards the creation and presentation of a musical performance. Imagine a Place has been created by The Venny participants with guidance from professional music and theatre artists including Chamber Made artists: theatre maker Sarah Kriegler; composers and musicians Aviva Endean and Matthias Schack-Arnott; vocalist Deborah Kayser; musicians Kofi Kunkpe and Mick Meagher; and supported by The Venny staff Danielle von der Borch and Abshiro Hussein.

In the months leading up to Imagine a Place, and in collaboration with architects Mittul Vahanvati and Munir Vahanvati from Giant Grass Designs, The Venny participants co-designed and helped build a range of bamboo instruments, objects and outdoor installations.

Some of the installations will be a permanent feature at The Venny, providing a lasting legacy of the Chamber Made and The Venny partnership and highlighting the co-design and creative input of the young people involved.