About ACE

PETA STRACHAN BURRAMATTA BADU, 2021. PHOTO: ALICIA SCOTT

About ACE

Established in 1984

Arts and Cultural Exchange (ACE) is a cultural organisation working on Dharug Country in Western Sydney. First Nations first, diversity and equity are our guiding principles. We have five program pillars: First Nations, Youth Engagement, Multicultural Women, Neurodivergent Artists and Aged Care, and Screen. We have a longstanding reputation for three things: we are committed to social justice, we use creativity to reverse disadvantage and we produce groundbreaking interdisciplinary, intergenerational collaborative projects co-devised with the communities with whom we work.

We began as the Holroyd-Parramatta Info Van, distributing crucial information to people experiencing disadvantage. Community, cultural diversity, social justice and Western Sydney have always been our key coordinates. In the early 1990s, as we recognised the power of culture and self-expression, arts and creativity became essential to our work through community cultural development art programs. In keeping with the technology boom of the time, we made sure access to information included access to technology. In 1992, we changed our name to reflect our core business, becoming Information and Cultural Exchange, and extended our community reach and creative pathways across Western Sydney

The 2022 change to the name Arts and Cultural Exchange is the result of extensive consultation that revealed that Information and Cultural Exchange no longer reflected the organisation’s core business, and that the acronym I.C.E. was problematic for many key stakeholders. While the organisation continues to disseminate essential information to its cohorts, arts and cultural activities are at the core of its interdisciplinary, multigenerational collaborations with communities.

Since the 1990s, digital media has been a critical part of our work. Today, digital media is constantly changing AND enmeshed in everyday life; we work to ensure our communities can access resources, training and information through their preferred media platforms. Alongside technological and digital avenues, we employ a vast array of art forms – including screen, music, embroidery, dance and performance art. At ACE, the starting point of any work is consultation with our cohorts. Utilising the transformative agency of artistic and cultural forms, we work with our cohorts to meet needs which otherwise would either be unaddressed, or inadequately met. Each work unfolds as it needs to.

As well as our commitment to First Nations first, diversity, equity, inclusion, culture and arts, there are other through lines in our work. Our embrace of community has made ACE a place where collectives flourish, for instance, Still Growing (First Nations), Pacific Noir collective (Screen), New Age Noise Collective (Youth Engagement), Embroiderers’ Collective (Multicultural Women), Club Weld (Neurodivergent artists). And, true to our roots, ACE programs reflect an abiding love of the cultures of Western Sydney.

Always hard won, our funding comes through grants from government departments and foundations, venue and equipment hire and donations. ACE is an ACNC registered charity with Deductible Gift Recipient status. Any donation over $2.00 is tax deductible. By supporting ACE you are investing in the creative empowerment and sustainability of some of Western Sydney’s most under-represented communities.

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