Have you got NSW Government Creative Kids vouchers still to use? Arts OutWest’s Maryanne Jaques looked at local ways to use Creative Kids.
This article was written in partnership with Central West Mums and is an update of a 2021 article
I’m always seeing Facebook posts (especially on the Central West Mums group) from parents asking where and how to use their Creative Kids vouchers.
We ran this article last year, and given it’s always such a hot topic AND there’s been some changes between last year, we’ve delved back in with an update.
With my Arts OutWesthat on I’ve had a chat with a few of the 100+ places in the Central West who accept the vouchers to find out how the program works for them.
Here’s our run-down on what Creative Kids is, how and where to use the vouchers locally.
What Are Creative Kids Vouchers?
The NSW Government supports kids to get into creative activities with a $100 voucher per year, for each student aged 4.5 to 18 years old enrolled in school.
The voucher can be used with any registered activity provider for things like registration, participation and tuition costs for a whole range of creative activities, including arts, drama, dance, digital design, coding, and music lessons.
It’s the creative counterpart to the Active Kids program.
How Do I Find Somewhere To Use The Vouchers?
You can see the whole list of registered activity providers on the Creative Kids website. Search by town/ postcode, activity type or actual name of a provider (a provider is the business or organisation who is registered to accept the vouchers – note, I found this particular search tricky if you spell it wrong).
Tip: Include as many of the search categories as you can so you don’t miss something eg: a provider might have listed as ‘drawing’ not ‘painting’.
So, you’ve looked on the site but how to you know what specific activities each provider currently offers? You’ll need to click through to each provider’s website to see that, or give them a call.
What About Art Packs Bought Online? Didn’t you use to be able to get those?
This use to be something you could do with the vouchers but as of 1 January 2022 the program was refocussed to cover only real-time activities. These were great while lockdowns were happening, but the program has now shifted back to the original aims.
Create NSW says: “From 1 January 2022, the Creative Kids program will refocus on encouraging real-time (live) activities. Art kit programs, pre-recorded video lessons and online programs that are not delivered in real-time will no longer be eligible.”
Where Can I Use Creative Kids Locally? Do We Have to Enrol In A Weekly Class?
There’s over a hundred registered providers across the region. Dance schools a plenty. Music classes of course. There’s a smaller number of visual arts and crafts options but they are spread well around the region and most offer weekly activities for kids.
You can use the vouchers to pay for classes or help with part of the rego, fees, uniform or instrument costs.
If you don’t have budget or time for weekly classes keep an eye out for school holiday programs through registered local councils, PCYCs, Neighbourhood centres, libraries or galleries (see Arts OutWest’s Whats On) .
Sharon Degeling runs The Art and Craft Room in Forbes and says that whilst many kids enrol for a whole term other families use the vouchers to try out classes and see if it suits them.
Local musical societies and theatre groups are often also Creative Kids providers and the $100 can go towards participating in shows.
Tip: If you kids are already doing creative classes check if your provider accepts Creative Kids and make sure they have your voucher details.
How easy is to cash in your Creative Kids vouchers?
Nichola Macqueen runs The Little Art Nook in Orange and finds it an easy process. Parents just have to supply their voucher number when booking.
“I run after school term lessons and holiday programs. Both are face to face lessons and qualify under the creative kids vouchers. The benefits are that some parents who might not have been able to afford term lessons can with the voucher subsidising some of the cost,” She said.
Can I use the vouchers now for a class happening next year?
Many businesses are happy to take bookings now for summer or for 2023.
Nicky at The Little Art Nook says: “I am offering that parents can use their voucher with me and book it towards January holiday lessons or to book for term 1 art classes. I shall have a holiday program listed by December first.”
You’ll need to ask your provider how they work, ask if they can credit you ahead for say a summer school holiday activity or towards enrolment next year.
Do Online Classes Count?
Yes, they sure do! But they have to be in real time (live) and interactive in some way.
From 2022 the rule is that ‘online activities and programs’ include those delivered through video hosting platforms (such as YouTube, Zoom etc) and webinars (such as access to pre-recorded material). BUT online providers will need to show that participants are able to ask questions or seek lesson support. This can be via phone, email, live video or an online messaging platform.
How Do Online Classes Actually Work?
Daniel Brown runs DB Drumming, is based in the region and teaches kids across NSW to play the drum kit – “the coolest instrument”, he says.
“The lessons run for half an hour each week via Skype and are a fun and interactive way to learn drumming… I teach ranging from beginner to advanced sight-reading, how to play songs, and different beats to multiple genres from my program. Mostly rock music!” Daniel says.
“This not only helps build their confidence, it develops their co-ordination and musicality all at once! I can cater the lessons for kids of all ages and needs,” Daniel explains.
With DB Drumming the Creative Kids vouchers cover the tuition fees of a few of the lessons.
“This is super helpful for parents, especially during these times… it’s a very simple process” Daniel says.
Elaine Butler is creative director of Fun Time Art, based in Lithgow but working across a big area. They offer painting, drawing and general art and craft workshops for kids during school terms and school holiday times. They offer face to face classes and live online classes via zoom.
“Fun Time Art is all about exploring art and creativity in a positive, nurturing, inclusive and fun environment,” Elaine says.
See Fun Time Art or contact Elaine on 0400 489 129
Start A Life-Long Skill
One of the motivations of the Creative Kids program is to engage kids long-term in arts and creative activities.
The two biggest providers of music education in the NSW Central West are Mitchell Conservatorium (Lithgow, Bathurst, Parkes, Forbes) and Orange Regional Conservatorium. At Orange Con alone there’s over 1000 individual and group students enrolled at any one time.
Both offer music lessons and workshops to children of all ages with classes for preschool through to the young adults. All instruments (and music styles) are available.
“This opportunity to foster creativity in younger generations is vital work,” MitCon told us when we chatted about this topic last time.
“We believe that the creative arts is something which needs to be prioritised for mental health, emotional growth and overall joy.”
“The cognitive benefits of creativity and music have been well documented, but after the past few years, we have seen an increase in the need for joy, positivity and creative space for wellbeing,” they said.
James Buchannan at Orange Regional Conservatorium said the Creative Kids program has been a really successful way for local families to get into music lessons.
“It allows kids to gain access to music lessons who otherwise wouldn’t, it also can mean family have the resources to take in extra activates,” he said.
Mitchell Conservatorium classes resume with term 1 2023. Find our more
Orange Regional Conservatorium classes resume with term 1 2023. Find out more
There are also lots of smaller music schools and individual music teachers who are signed up to take Creative Kids vouchers – like musician Nerida Cuddy who teaches guitar lessons in Eugowra and piano teacher Cindy Fox in Bathurst who works under the business name Fox Music and Living Sound amongst the scores of music providers in the region.
Of course there’s more than 100 other providers across the region that might have the perfect creative activity your kids can enjoy – although the truth is that not all activities are available face-to-face in all towns – but the program can only grow if parents support the small businesses and organisations that are the backbone of arts activities for kids in regional NSW.
Do you provide creative activities for kids? Find out more about becoming a provider
IMAGES: MAIN – Canva stock image