2014 – Onwards
“Bidwill needs a bit of a serious makeover, needs some richer people, it needs shops, a swimming pool, needs a resort, or it needs someone to build a massive FUNPARK right in the middle of Bidwill,”
Reanne Shephard, 14-year-old local resident + seed idea for the original FUNPARK in 2014.
FUNPARK is a mini arts festival celebrating place, culture, young people and the community of Bidwill, Mount Druitt.
FUNPARK was first presented at Sydney Festival in 2014 under the creative direction of founder, Karen Therese. It has since developed into a sustained ‘Collective Impact Project’ led by a unique coalition of five arts, government and youth organisations: CuriousWorks, PYT Fairfield, Blacktown Arts, and Bidwill Uniting.
Now entering its ninth year, FUNPARK 2022 highlights the narratives of Mt Druitt youth and its residents through unique and critical expression of their Australian cultures, building a stronger and more resilient community for the people of Mt Druitt.
FUNPARK 2022 offers audiences a diverse array of creative expression and activities, from stage and roving performances, film screenings, creative workshops, art installations, 0 – 5 area, art installations and much more.
You can read more about the activities from FUNPARK 2022 here. You can visit their website at funpark.org.au.
A major feature of FUNPARK has been its Mount Druitt Press Conference. In 2021 – 2022, after hosting five conversations between young, Mount Druitt leaders on issues that were important to them, FUNPARK released its Mount Druitt Press Conference report, compiling the perspectives, issues and solutions shared through these conversations. You can read the full report here.
FUNPARK was founded by artist Karen Therese. After growing up in Bidwill, Mt Druitt in the 1980’s and returning back to Bidwill as an adult in 2012, she saw the community was in a critical need. The community had been forgotten and left to endure profound poverty, social isolation with thousands of young people without sports or cultural engagement. Even the local shop had been abandoned, and children were buying lollies and milk from the local bottle shop.
Home to large Aboriginal, Pacific Islander and migrant populations, Bidwill is a suburb in Sydney’s outer west with the highest proportion of public housing in NSW. It’s a complex and heavily stigmatised community – often associated with social and economic disadvantage, and crime.
Originally presented as part of the 2014 Sydney Festival, FUNPARK is committed to long term change for young people and their families through a unique cultural exchange and program. Focusing on the suburb of Bidwill, through on-going creative learning programs, FUNPARK culminates into a site responsive, cross art-form community program and event that transforms the abandoned shopping centre and surrounding spaces of Bidwill into a cultural FUNPARK, a public art space, a playground incorporating performance, installation, activism, critical debate and social engagement.
FUNPARK is the only sustained arts engagement project presented in and for the Bidwill community.
Now entering its ninth year, FUNPARK highlights the narratives of Mt Druitt youth and its residents through unique and critical expression of their Australian cultures. FUNPARK focuses on alternative education models, creative skills development, vitality, and to develop and embed urgent youth leadership models.
FUNPARK is now headed by Program Director, Daisy Montalvo, an original member of the Social Revolutionaries, who participated in FUNPARK 2014 as a young person. She started coordinating the festival in 2019-2020 when FUNPARK was a part of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney #NIRIN. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FUNPARK moved its festival online from May 6th – June 24th. The full digital report for FUNPARK 2020, designed by Huy Nguyen, can be found here. All the livestreamed videos can still be viewed here.
On December 5th, Bidwill’s FUNPARK, a mini-documentary directed by Sivani Yaddanapudi, premiered online.
Program Director: Daisy Montalvo
Creative Producer: Sivani Yaddanapudi
Community Liaison Officer: Robyn Hardge-Scott
FUNPARK COALITION: CuriousWorks, PYT Fairfield, Bidwill Uniting and Blacktown Arts Centre.
FUNPARK is proudly supported by the NSW Government’s The Festival of Place and the FUNPARK Coalition.
FUNPARK has been generously supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts and the NSW Government through Create NSW, Multicultural NSW and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
#LoveThePlaceYouLive #TheFestivalofPlace #GetFUNPARKed