Artist in Residence — Pilot Project

The Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program embeds inspiring artists in primary schools and preschools throughout the Shoalhaven, exposing students to creative and artistic professional practice, while providing an engaging platform for local artists to connect and showcase their work within the broader community.

Piloted within the Shoalhaven and South Coast regions of NSW, the program is currently being rolled out to several regional schools including Bomaderry Community Preschool, North Nowra Public School, Cambewarra Public School and Nowra Hill Public School.

Please contact the Southland team to stay up to date throughout the program.


This project runs from May 2021–December 2022

Artist In Residence Shoalhaven

Artist In Residence

Development Status: Pilot

Dates: May 2021–Dec 2022

Project Leads:

Dr Lynda Kelly
Jenny Thompson
Ann Stafford

Project Coordinator:

Lucy Robertson


The innovative AIR program embeds inspiring local artists in primary schools and preschools across the South Coast and Shoalhaven region. 

Throughout the project, the Artist-in-Residence program covers a range of partnerships and collaborations:

  • Primary Schools – Bomaderry; Cambewarra; Illaroo Rd and North Nowra
  • Preschools – Bomaderry Community Preschool and North Nowra Preschool
  • Visual Arts teachers and School Principals are also key partners
  • Local Community:
    • Cambewarra Residents and Ratepayers Association
    • Arts in the Valley, Kangaroo Valley
    • Auspicing body
  • Local Government:
    • Shoalhaven City Council Arts Board
    • Shoalhaven Regional Gallery

The project has high levels of support from schools, local politicians and community groups, local Councils and the NSW Department of Education.

Under the program, data and research will be undertaken to assess the impact and success of the program on students, teachers, stakeholders and communities — feeding into a future expansion across the Shoalhaven and Kiama LGAs, and eventually throughout regional NSW.

This research will be conducted by Dr Lynda Kelly

An initial workshop was conducted with key stakeholders, teachers and artists on Monday 3 May, 2021, to undertake essential planning and documentation for the continued project.


The Artist in Residence (AIR) Pilot Project was first piloted at Cambewarra Public School, where NIDA-trained actor Annaliese Szota embedded her practice to bring professional drama workshops and a stage production in the school.

Results of the pilot will be measured within the student body, teaching staff, resident artist, and wider community. Four other primary schools and two local preschools are currently in the planning stages to host similar programs once the pilot results are known and COVID restrictions allow.

The AIR team

In 2020, a team of educational change-makers started thinking big about how to embed authentic creative arts programs into local primary schools in a way that both promoted creative career pathways and valued creative professionals from the community. 

They are:

  • Dr Lynda Kelly, Researcher & Managing Director of LyndaKellyNetworks;
  • Jenny Thompson, Community Representative for Shoalhaven City Arts Board, and;
  • Ann Stafford, Community Artist Advocate.

For these three women it is all about the kids! 

The AIR team has recruited and embedded professional artists from the South Coast community into primary and preschools across four key disciplines: visual arts, drama, music and dance. 

The project comes at a time when creative expression is both more important than ever — after a traumatic year of bushfire, flood, and pandemic — and most compromised in the educational context by COVID lockdowns.

The AIR project is generously funded by Shoalhaven City Council and the Department of Education in the region of the Shoalhaven, and proudly auspiced by Southland Creative Inc. Members of the project team are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Jenny Thompson and we credit her with the vision and innovation of this exciting AIR project. 

We acknowledge and pay respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Elders, and custodians across Australia, whose customs and cultures continue to inspire and connect us.

Please note, sections of our website may contains images, video, audio, and writings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed. We acknowledge them for the indelible mark they have left on our journey.