Creative Kids vouchers: have you considered getting your business or organisation involved? We look at how they work, changes happening in 2022 and tips for using them in your business.
More than a hundred businesses and organisations across the NSW Central West are registered to accept the NSW Government’s Creative Kids vouchers
The $100 vouchers support kids to get creative.
Maybe you run creative activities for kids and want make use of the scheme too?
So, what do you need to do as a businesses? Is it worth it? And how do you make the most of the program?
Arts OutWest, in a collaboration with Central West Mums, spoke to a few of the local providers to get their perspective.
But firstly. What are Creative Kids vouchers?
The NSW Government makes available a $100 Creative Kids voucher per year, for each student aged 4.5 to 18 years old enrolled in school. It’s the creative counterpart to the Active Kids program.
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.
How do people know where they can use the vouchers?
The list of registered activity providers is on the searchable Creative Kids website. But often the contact is made the other way around – providers promote that they accept vouchers and parents contact the providers directly.
What about art packs bought online? What’s changing?
You might have seen online companies offering packs of art materials in exchange for the $100 vouchers. The big news is that from Jan 2022 if these don’t have an interactive teaching element they will no longer be eligible.
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.”
Live and interactive lessons which include the cost of art/craft kits will still be eligible.
Providers offering online activities and programs including through video hosting platforms (e.g.Skype, YouTube, Zoom etc) and webinars (e.g. access to pre-recorded material) 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.
What activities are families looking for?
Dance, drama and music are ever popular but anecdotally and online we see lots of parents seeking visual arts and crafts-based activities particularly across the Central West, and not just in bigger towns. There are some (excellent) providers but there seems room for more?
The scheme also covers things like creative writing, circus, coding, design, Aboriginal cultural experiences, video and more. Do you have expertise in teaching something like advertising, languages, VR, debating, game design, multi-media, radio, slam poetry even robotics? Weekly classes might not (yet!) be sustainable but occasional or holiday workshops could be?
Advice from local providers
Here’s some tips from others in the region already signed up to be Creative Kids providers.
We asked businesses ran by one or two people through to large not-for-profit organisations.
Our thanks to Daniel Brown at DB Drumming, Simone Gough at Harmonie Group Facilitation, Elaine Butler at Fun Time Art, Lauren Hagney from Mitchell Conservatorium of Music and James Buchannan from Orange Regional Conservatroium for sharing their inside experiences of being Creative Kids providers – and their best tips for others thinking of joining the program.
Some of the different ways of delivering creative activities:
DB Drumming, based in Cowra, teaches kids across NSW to play the drum kit. “The coolest instrument!” Daniel says. “The lessons run for half an hour each week via Skype and are a fun and interactive way to learn drumming. These lessons are available to students both in urban and remote areas. I teach ranging from beginner to advanced sight-reading, how to play songs, and different beats to multiple genres from my program.”
Harmonie Group Facilitation, based in Cowra, also teaches across a wide region. Simone offers ukulele and hand drumming packs that include the instrument and instructional videos along with a live online lesson to “check and see how the students are going with learning the basics of their new instrument.” They also offer E Courses. These are generally a follow-on course from the beginner course and include video instructions and four live online lessons throughout the school term.
“However, students can start the course anytime as I run the online lessons fortnightly throughout the whole year. In the School Holidays I offer special one or two day workshops,” Simone says.
Simone Gough is also kept busy with community music groups. All of her activities can be paid for with Creative Kids vouchers and some, like the beginner ukulele and hand drumming packs of instrument and lessons are cleverly priced at $100.
Fun Time Art, based in Portland but also working across a wide region, offers painting, drawing, general art and craft workshops for kids during school terms and school holiday times.
“We offer face to face classes and online classes via zoom,” says owner Elaine Butler. “Students can use their creative kids vouchers to do term art classes or for any face to face art workshops or real time online Art classes and Workshops.”
Mitchell Conservatorium has campus in Bathurst, Lithgow, Parkes and Forbes and offers music lessons and workshops to children of all ages. They have classes for preschool through to the young adults. All instruments are available.
Likewise Orange regional Conservatorum offers individual and group lessons for kids across a wide range of instruments and groups. From complete beginner to advanced. Early childhood programs, singing classes, choirs and a whole lot more. They have over 1000 individual and group students enrolled at any one time.
Managing the admin of the Creative Kids voucher process
At DB Drumming, says Daniel Brown “The Creative Kids program covers the tuition fees of a few of the lessons which is super helpful for parents, especially during these times. Parents simply send me the voucher number and DOB of student for me to claim via the Service NSW registry. Very simple process!”
Simone Gough of Harmonie Group Facilitation explains: “Families and guardians contact me via email or facebook. I have a website so people can book online. The booking form allows people to add the students’ Creative Kids Voucher number, date of birth and full name, what pack they would like and a few more necessary details about the student, along with media consent and when they would like to attend the live online lesson. With the students CKV number and name I can go onto Service NSW and claim the voucher. Creative kids vouchers can also be used at the local Community Music Groups.
Most activities at the conservatoriums are offered as weekly, ongoing classes or ensembles. Once a student has commenced lessons, the Creative Kids voucher is applied to their first invoice.
Would you recommend the Creative Kids vouchers program to other arts and creative providers?
DB Drumming: “Yes! It is a great initiative run by the NSW Government and I would recommend it to other arts and creative providers. Not only does it help parents cover tuition fees, it makes the business more appealing being backed by vouchers! Who wouldn’t want some free drum lessons?! It is so simple to use as a provider and isn’t a big hassle to apply and set up.”
Harmonie Group Facilitation: “This is a great help in building a foundation of customers who may go on to continue to use your service in the future.”
Mitchell Conservatorium: “This opportunity to foster creativity in younger generations is vital work. We believe that the creative arts is something which needs to be prioritised for mental health, emotional growth and overall joy… Also, there is no additional work in being a Creative Kids provider, it is a simple and easy process.
Orange Regional Conservatorium: “The Creative Kids voucher program has been highly successful for us over the past few years. 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. It also has brought many new people to our organisation, who may not have otherwise known about us.”
Any tips for other providers in how to make the most of the Creative Kids voucher scheme?
- Keep expanding your business! It’s a great way to draw in clients as there is a helpful way to not only boost your business income, but help out families doing it tough during these times.
- It is a great selling point and is very beneficial for your cash flow.
Harmonie Group Facilitation:
- I have made it a focus of my business to engage new customers and it works.
- I promote with flyers in the schools around regional and remote NSW and on Facebook – and include the Creative Kids logo.
- When I have the opportunity to go to Community Events I also hand out flyers.
- Reach out to customers all year round, particularly getting closer to the end of the year when people may have unused Creative Kids Vouchers and have been thinking about claiming them and using them.
- Add the Creative Kids Service NSW blue badge to your website & advertisements of classes as parents who are looking to use their Creative Kids Voucher can clearly see you are a provider.
- Add a link on your website to Creative Kids Service NSW. That way parents who haven’t claimed their $100 voucher can simply jump over to Service NSW and get it and hopefully use it with you.
Make it as user friendly to parents as possible.
Orange Regional Conservatorium:
- Make sure the process for applying the voucher for customers is as simple as possible, people are often relieved to find out they just have to send their voucher number and we can do the rest.
- Also, make sure the programs you are offering meet all of the terms and conditions of the vouchers.
- Make it obvious to new customers that you accept the vouchers is fundamental too.
MAIN IMAGE: Simone Gough of Harmonie Group Facilitation. Picture: supplied.