Great Ydeas – Where are they now with Fiona Hooten

12 March 2020

YWCA Canberra’s Great Ydeas Small Grants Program provides grants up to $2,500 to support women, girls and non-binary people in the ACT to pursue their passions and improve our community.

Applications are now open for the 2020 YWCA Canberra Great Ydeas Small Grants. This year, we have a total of $13,000 in general and specialised grants available.

Fiona Hooten received a Great Ydeas grant in 2018 for her Lakeside Stories Pilot ProjectHaving grown up in Canberra, Fiona loves her city. But as she grew into a young adult, she was confronted by the realities of sexual injustice. She found her tribe working in feminist collectives, assisting women and children escaping domestic violence.

She studied at art school, then teaching, then museum studies. This led to working in various public program and events management roles in Canberra’s many fascinating collecting institutions.

Fiona told us about her journey with the Lakeside Stories Pilot Project.Fiona Hooten's Great Ydea

What is Lakeside Stories?

Lakeside Stories was the first pilot project we created for our artist-run social enterprise / start up, LocaljinniWe screen virtual exhibitions on the streetcasting light on people and their stories of place.

Our focus on place recognises the importance of local production and local knowledge. As a street art collective, we work with artists/arts workers, historians, locals, ANU design students and cultural institutions. 

Lakeside Stories are twilight video walks that take people on a deep dive into Lake Burley Griffin through poetry, visual art, animation, film, oral histories and digital stories. We transform spaces into places, lighting up footpaths, benches and walls around the city.

We are committed to sharing hidden narratives including women’s and Aboriginal people’s stories of place, because they are harder to access and people want to hear them.

Comments we’ve gotten from people who’ve seen the project include:

  • This is a unique walking tour combining art and culture – literally shining a light on Canberra’s history, magical!
  • This is so innovative and creative, the use of technology to share stories and bring history to life in situ.
  • It gave me a deeper and different experience of the Lake – a very 3D all sensory experience.

How did you hear about Great Ydeas and what motivated you to apply for it?

I saw Great Ydeas funding round advertised and then I read about the YWCA’s history assisting women and girls to adapt to urban life.

We all know fear of safety can impede our free movement. This is especially true for girls and women in cities around the globe.

In creating Lakeside Stories, we wanted to make our public spaces more, fun, more functional, more of the time, for more of us.

How did the Great Ydeas grant help you to get to where you are today?

Receiving the Great Ydeas EY Creativity grant provided the breakthrough moment.

It enabled us to commission two video stories, each about three minutes long. Each of these works reveals a hidden aspect of the Lake.

Both works were screened during the pilot in association with the 2018 Contour 556 Public Art festival.

How did you find the whole experience and what was your biggest take away?

Receiving the Great Ydeas grant has been a great experience!

Knowing others understood what we were trying to do was enormously encouraging. Meeting other grant winners and hearing about their successful businesses and projects helped us to step up and take the leap of faith.

Why do you think it’s important for people to support individuals like yourself who have great ideas and aspirations?

Since Australian arts schools opened their doors to women in 1895, over 70 per cent of graduates have been women. Yet women’s participation at leadership level and the gender pay gap in Australia’s creative industries remains the worst of any industry in the country. (This fact is well documented in Australia Council for the Arts reports and in the Countess report.)

We all benefit from a strong culture and a community, reflective of our diverse ideas and aspirations.

Do you have any other exciting projects planned?

In 2020, Localjinni will expand into the heart of Canberra’s CBD, activating Civic’s laneways though an event titled AlleyHART.

AlleyHART– what lies at the heart of the city? 

Take a turn off the main drag and into the alleyways to learn about the city’s rich history and art. We will take you back to the past, highlight the city’s struggles and triumphs and share our personal stories. If you are the kind of person who wants to get the inside story, then come see the city the way the locals do. See what’s under the surface, as we peel back the skin and shine a light on the city’s inner bypasses through film, art, dance, animation and social yarning.

The event will be launched in association with the Contour556/2020public art Biennale.

If a young girl or women were to approach you today, what would you say to them about the Great Ydeas grant?

Go for it: your voice, your aspirations and your ideas matter.

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