Grant fosters artistic talent

A YOUNG people's visual arts program in Penrith, Mondo, received a $36,500 state government grant last week.

Mondo, which has been operating for almost two years, encourages the musical and artistic talents of Penrith youth.

"This project engages with young people by using this space to introduce art into their world," the project's producer, Jonathan Wilson, said.

"We use a large box — an interactive booth — where kids can talk to me."

Mr Wilson said many young people said they were interested in music and some had even written their own pieces.

He also said it provided a safe space where young people could talk to youth workers, if they wanted.

The project took shape after young people started regularly meeting, with police supervision, outside Penrith's Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre every Thursday evening.

Mr Wilson said his first project was a photo exhibition of some of them.

"After that the kids started coming to us," he said.

"We are here, so we asked, what opportunities do the kids want?"

Penrith state MP Stuart Ayres said Mondo was a way of energising young people.

"It is a way of breaking down barriers for young people," Mr Ayres said.

"There's The Joan, this wonderful building, right here and a lot of kids sitting outside. Let's bring them together."

The director of Penrith Regional Gallery and The Lewers Bequest, Lee-Anne Hall, said Mondo was about valuing young people and recognising their aspirations.

"Music is one way of doing this and bringing young people in," Dr Hall said.

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