Young local artists have been beautifying laneways and footpaths in the Kempsey CBD in preparation for the Macleay Youth Laneway Festival.
The project is part of a collaboration between Kempsey Shire Council and Community Housing Limited that involves youth led artworks in Savages Lane, complementing two other youth murals led by different artists.
Funded by a NSW Government grant, this is another stage of the Streets as Shared Spaces project that has seen 14 murals revitalise Elringtons Lane and Savages Lane in the Kempsey CBD.
CHL NSW Community Development Manager Steve Neale said the project aims to reduce graffiti and tagging in the area.
"We've been doing a project for the last 12 months with different youths from around Kempsey to address anti-social graffiti and tagging by running workshops with street and Indigenous artists every fortnight," he said.
"[The project] encourages them to look at ways that they can express themselves in a more positive and creative way rather than just tagging their names on buildings.
"When Kempsey Shire Council reached out about the Laneway Festival, we were happy to jump on board."
18-year-old local Oliver Arvidson is part of the youth reference group at headspace Kempsey and has been working on a mural under the guidance of Australian artist Soraya Touma.
"Initially I was just going to be helping out, but I was invited to do the design portion of the mural as well," Oliver said.
Oliver said the mural they're working, which includes people in front of a rainbow and colorful butterflies, represents inclusivity and diversity within the Kempsey community.
"We wanted to do something about inclusivity... and we wanted to show the diversity of people, specifically the LGBTQIA+ community.
"It would be good if someone who is struggling and is LGBTQIA+, sees this and knows that there are people here like them and that they are not alone. That's the goal, to make them feel represented here."
Ms Touma said it was privilege to collaborate on the mural with the young artists in Kempsey
"It's been a privilege to work with them and watch what they came up," she said. "[It's really cool] to see [the LGBTQIA+] community become celebrated within the Kempsey community through this mural."
Kempsey Shire Council Project Officer Aisha Spokes said the Youth Laneway Festival will unveil the final touches of the colourful laneway murals and instil a sense of pride in the community's youth.
"It will be all about showcasing out young people's talents," she said.
"This project has been about bringing young people down into this space and giving them that feeling of connection, pride and respect in this area because they are our future.
"It's also about arranging a connection point for everyone to get together and celebrate these beautiful spaces."
Ms Spokes said visitors can expect a fun-filled afternoon at the Youth Laneway Festival with free live music, roving entertainment, amusement activities, live street art, food trucks, market stalls and more.
"We will be closing down Savages Lane and the majority of Clyde Street Mall, and it's going to have a huge amount of activity there," she said.
The Macleay Youth Laneway Festival will take place on Saturday, April 22, from 2pm - 6pm and is a free event.