Paperworks Inc wind-up June 2019

In May we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our social enterprise, but it was a muted affair, because of a looming gut-wrenching decision to potentially wind up Paperworks Inc at the end of June 2019.

We gave it a good shot, and we have survived many changes. Evolving from an organisation that only hosted workshops to an organisation that provided volunteering, limited employment to produce goods for sale for increased sustainability, to an organisation that encouraged Canberrans to recycle and share arts/crafts resources. In the early years, government funding helped establish us, then private philanthropists supported our own sales network.

We identified an ever-increasing need for social inclusion and recognised the availability of recyclable resources. In response we established the Paper & the Works project to redistribute arts and crafts in collaboration with the Green Shed. Free space meant a revival of our “free, everyone welcome” workshop culture, because the sales of left-over arts and crafts goods supported overheads. It is important, because after introduction of the NDIS, our papermaking workshops could no longer be run at only a materials fee, as it did during our grant-funded years. This meant that the demographics of these papermaking workshops contracted from a very diverse group of people, to only those that could afford to attend them, either privately or through NDIS funding. Our aspiration has always been to bring socially diverse people together to break down the boundaries of “otherness”.

Sadly, a few days ago, we have come to the conclusion that despite 10 years of personal sacrifices by many dedicated individuals to keep Paperworks Inc going, without the committed financial support of government, business or the community we simply cannot keep operating. We aspired to build social capital using recycling as a funding vehicle. In theory, a project for the community, by the community and with the enormous volunteers support to date, we almost achieved that.

We have achieved a lot with very little, operating on a shoe-string for years. We take pride in what we have achieved, even though the social needs are as great as ever and the economic opportunity in recycling, still beckoning.

To everyone who supported us and cheered us on, thank you very much.

Now for the impossible task of paying tribute:

Susanna Pieterse: Paperworks Inc.’s developer, facilitator, master of re-invention, negotiator, motivator, champion of a fair, diverse and equal society who set the bar high and never wavered.

Kathy Edwards: long-time advocate and co-worker, with an unrivalled ability to make things happen. Her energy and commitment to Paper and The Works was boundless.

Most importantly: our artisans, social workshop participants, volunteers – some of whom have been with us from day one – and financial supporters. You know who you are, the list is extensive, but without you, we would not have lasted 10 years.

A few of the many that require mention:

Disability ACT whose funding in the early years helped propel our organisation forward.
The Ted Noffs Foundation that hosted our studio since 2014, when our government funding ceased. No matter how loud the beater or bad the smell of boiling tulip fibres, they stood by us
– true enablers. A wonderful organisation with a very big heart for their community.

The Green Shed, Mitchell for providing a space since January 2017 to trial our arts and crafts
redistribution project.

Woden Community Services for providing volunteer management and financial support. It was
wonderful to share the skills and expertise of another organisation.

Events ACT that has allowed us access to the tulips every year after Floriade.
To the many organisations and professionals around Canberra who donated their time to
support our development: thank you.

And last but not least, Belconnen Arts Centre and M16 for providing a welcoming and
supportive home to us amongst their artist communities during our early years.

Marja Rouse President
12 June 2019