Social (Media) Skills

My current career goal … earn some part of my living from doing something other than sitting in front of a computer!

The PACT Collective started their creative development yesterday, so it was great to get away from the computer and observe some of their creative process today.  The morning was spent in movement training with Diane Busuttil, the afternoon with playwright Lachlan Philpott doing some writing tasks and generating ideas for the Collective’s production, Listen! I’m telling you stories.

The computer is unavoidable, and the majority of the day was spent creating listings on various websites for a couple of PACT’s upcoming events, including the PACT Collective performance.  I spend too much time on Facebook, but thankfully those skills are in high demand in a marketing position!  And thanks to having to create this blog for my assessments for this Internship subject, I had the skills to update PACT’s website with the PACT Collective artists’ profiles and create blog posts for another project, Rapid Response Team.

Despite being able to tackle those tasks, I feel somewhat incompetent, and I’m not used to feeling like that when it comes to my working life!  I think it’s just being in a new environment and being mindful of things like branding and protocols for posting on social media, plus feeling like it’s taking me a long time to complete tasks.  Having been in a number of management positions, I’m usually the one with the delegated authority to speak on behalf of an organisation, but as an intern I’m very conscious of not over-stepping any boundaries.  And I don’t have a benchmark of how much work I should be getting through in a day.  Everyone in the office is extremely busy, and I certainly was today too … I’m just not sure if I achieved enough!  I think I need more feedback, and I’m quite happy to be told to lift my game.

Here’s some pictures of the PACT Collective artists at their work today.

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This is where it’s at

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I took some snaps on the second day of my Internship at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.  It was a glorious winter morning!

PACT is one the oldest continuous running performing arts company in Australia. PACT was established in 1964 by a collective of artists in response to the Vincent Committee Report, a Federal Government report that highlighted the dire state of Australia’s performing arts, film and television industries. Lead by Robert Allnutt, Jack Mannix and Patrick Milligan, these artists recognised that the best solution to the issues raised in the report was to support, developing and produce Australian artists and stories. And hence PACT, aka Producers, Authors, Composers and Talent, was created. Learn more about PACT’s history.

The Politics of Theatre

Politics is occupying my head space!  The current Australian political climate requires attention and action, but with so much going on to be concerned about, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless as an individual.  Can theatre make a difference?  I suspect it can to some extent, and one reason I think so is that our Government has recently decided to transfer a significant amount of arts funding to a new “entity” operating at the discretion of the Minster for the Arts.  Apologies for the number of quotes in this post, but many theatre-makers, much more significant than me, have a lot to say about this.

“Since the time of the ancient Greeks a democracy has depended on its philosophers and creative artists. It can only flourish by continuous probing, prodding, and questioning of the social conditions under which man exists and tries to better himself. One of the first moves of a dictatorship is to stifle the artists and thinkers who have the ability to stir up dissent from any prescribed dogma which might enslave them. Because the artist can arouse the curiosity and conscience of his community, he becomes a threat to those who have taken power.” – Uta Hagen, A Challenge for the Actor, 1991

Last week the Australian Senate called for a Senate Inquiry investigating the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts. The Inquiry is accepting submissions from anyone wanting to have their say on Arts funding. The submission deadline is 17 July 2015.

See here for details on how to make a submission.

If you’re not really sure what it’s about or want some facts to include your submission, you can read more here.

And for those who’d rather not think or talk about politics …

Brecht long quote

Rather strong, some might think.  But it might raise the question about the role of theatre (and other arts) and artists in Australian society.  As a nation, I don’t think we’ve yet reached the maturity to understand the value of the arts to a free and democratic society.  We probably approach it purely from a consumption view point, and judge it on its entertainment value.  I want it to be more, and I want to contribute more as an artist.  Will I change the world through my arts practice?  Most definitely not.  But I do want to give voice to important things.

At this year’s Australian Theatre Forum, Frie Leyson, Belgian festival director, gave the closing address and hinted that theatre may have lost its way in Australia.  One of the things she said was …

‘Art should not please. On the contrary. Art has to show where it hurts in our societies, in our world. We urgently need the courage back to pick up this role of disturbers again.’

You can find the full transcript of Frie Leyson’s address here.

How does this all relate to my Internship at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists?  PACT is one of the small to medium arts organisations that will potentially lose it’s funding through the Australia Council for the Arts and may have to compete for funding through the new National Programme for Excellence in the Arts.  One of the things PACT does is support individual performing artists to produce new work, often experimental in nature, providing rehearsal and performance space as well as artistic input into a creative development.  Senator George Brandis, Australia’s Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, doesn’t believe in supporting individual artists, as he stated in this interview in 2014, “Frankly I’m more interested in funding arts companies that cater to the great audiences that want to see quality drama, or music or dance, than I am in subsidising individual artists responsible only to themselves.”  Keith Gallasch in Realtime Arts 126 gives a pretty in depth response to these recent decisions.

As an emerging artist, I feel discouraged right now, about my own future and how I will be able to access funding to create work, and about the future of small festivals and companies who provide platforms for individual artists and independent collectives, and at the thought that there may be fewer places where I can experience new, innovative, challenging and experimental works.

For artists and audiences alike, the Senate Inquiry into arts funding is an important opportunity to tell the Federal Government how changes to Federal funding and the cuts to the Australia Council for the Arts will impact you.  Please consider submitting … Australia’s artistic future depends on it!

I know this is a long post, and if you’ve made it to the end, I thank you for hanging in there!




The First Day

I started my Internship this week at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists. This will be my first experience of commuting to Sydney for work.  I’ve been fortunate enough in my working life (22 years) to have been able to work locally.  That represents a major challenge for the future, where a job in arts management will probably not be available in Wollongong.  I can’t really imagine doing it full-time, but two or three days a week I might be able to manage.

Great Speckled Bird (2015), Claire Stjepanovic, Ryan McGoldrick, Steve Wilson-Alexander.  Photo courtesy of PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.

Great Speckled Bird (2015), Claire Stjepanovic, Ryan McGoldrick, Steve Wilson-Alexander. Photo courtesy of PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.

I was warmly welcomed on my first day, joined the team for a celebratory lunch (they just completed their three year strategic plan and funding application to Arts NSW) and stayed around in the evening for the preview performance of The Great Speckled Bird, devised, directed and performed by Ryan McGoldrick, PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong, featuring performers/musicians Claire Stjepanovic and Steve Wilson-Alexander, also graduates of UoW.  The Great Speckled Bird was developed through PACT’s 2014 Artist in Residency program.  There are lots of connections between PACT and UoW, with many graduates supported by PACT’s programs in the early years of their careers.

Thankfully, my supervisor is really organised and had plenty mapped out for me to do and a clear outline of outcomes for the duration of my Internship.  My primary responsibilities will be in supporting her role as Artistic Program Manager to produce this year’s PACT Collective performance, and to work with PACT’s Content Manager in marketing and publicity for the event.  You can read about the PACT Collective program here.

I felt confident carrying out the administrative tasks assigned for the day.  I’m looking forward to learning some new skills in the area of marketing, particularly learning about technologies for scheduling social media posts, and developing website content.  The PACT Collective artists start their three week in-house development at the end of the month, and my supervisor is allowing me time to sit in on some of their artistic development time, under the direction of PACT’s Artistic Director/CEO.