Closing Night

PACT Team

The dedicated PACT team. L-R: Katy Green Loughrey (Artistic Program Manager), Katrina Douglas (CEO/Artistic Director), Danielle Taylor (General Manager)

I finished my internship at PACT on Wednesday 29 July.  My last day was spent preparing a feedback survey to distribute to all the artists involved in the 2015 PACT Collective.  I used an online survey creation/distribution program called Typeform that I hadn’t used before.  It produces a funkier looking survey than Survey Monkey (which I usually use) and is a tool I’d be keen to use again.  I also finished off some final promotion for the BBM/PACT Travelling Scholarship, identifying some additional key arts organisations in NSW and some that were in other states but had a national reach.  I wanted to particularly focus on contacting people in regional and rural areas who would be willing to promote the scholarship, as it would be great if these kinds of opportunities made it out of the Sydney area.  I discovered that Arts NSW facilitates a number of Regional Development Officers in key identifed regions throughout NSW, so sent the scholarship information to each one.

I spent some time with my supervisor getting feedback about my performance throughout the internship and asked her a number of questions about her own journey as a creative artist post university, to the point where she now is and what her plans are for the future.  It was extremely helpful to have that discussion, and I came away with a few ideas about the direction I think I would like to head over the next few years.

Overall, my experience at PACT was very positive and gave me some valuable insights into working in the small to medium performing arts sector.  It’s challenging because of limited available resources, but the work is rewarding, particularly in an organisation like PACT where the focus is on providing opportunities and support for early career artists.

Thanks to everyone involved in supporting me through my internship!

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Production Week

This was my last full week at PACT.  For the last two weeks I’ve been on my own on Tuesdays as the person who was supervising me on Tuesdays has worked on a different day.  Fortunately, I’ve got the hang of things and was able to work independently.  One of my challenges has been balancing the priorities of two different supervisors.

The week involved more blogging, more scheduling of social media posts, a chance to sit in on a final rehearsal of the PACT Collective and take some photos.  I also learnt some new skills in Adobe InDesign, doing up the show program.  I worked on rolling out the communication strategy for the BBM/PACT Travelling Scholarship.  This has involved sending individual e-mails to many university academics and e-mailing other arts organisations asking them to promote the scholarship to their students, within their networks and across their social media and other marketing platforms.  We’ve had a good, positive response from people, who see what a great opportunity it presents for emerging performing artists and are willing to help get the word out.  Who wouldn’t want $8,000 to travel to the UK and study with the company or individuals of your choice?

In order to keep the social media posts fresh, I trawled through reports and interviews with previous scholarship recipients to lift quotes, and made these the basis of the posts.  It provided a variety of perspectives on the experience from some very different artists.  I enjoyed the challenge of creating intriguing tweets that also provide enough information to get people to click through to the webpage.  Promo on Twitter really is an art in itself!

The huge reward of the week was watching opening night of the PACT Collective’s show, Listen! I’m telling you stories.  They played four shows this week and there were good audience numbers on Wednesday and Thursday.  Hoping that the momentum picked up for the last two shows (will check on final numbers when I’m next in).   It was great to watch them perform.

PACT Collective, Listen! I'm telling you stories.   L-R:  Jessica McKerlie, Amber Jacob, Courtney Ammenhauser, Tasha O'Brien, Alicia Dulnuan-Demou, Carissa Licciardello, Dubs Yunupingu, Mitchell Whitehead, Steve Wilson-Alexander. Image credit: Katy Green Loughrey.

PACT Collective, Listen! I’m telling you stories.
L-R: Jessica McKerlie, Amber Jacob, Courtney Ammenhauser, Tasha O’Brien, Alicia Dulnuan-Demou, Carissa Licciardello, Dubs Yunupingu, Mitchell Whitehead, Steve Wilson-Alexander.
Image credit: Katy Green Loughrey.

 

Stimulus Package

I’ve been reflecting on the deeper influence of my time at PACT for my internship, beyond the new skills I’ve picked up.  When I think about it, I have participated in more creative events or activities during the last couple of months than I ever have before.  I think part of the stimulus has been the regular travel to Sydney.  I’ve taken the opportunity to stay back after my PACT days to catch a show.  I’ve travelled back up to Sydney on an additional day because it feels like no big deal.  It’s all too easy being down in Wollongong to not make the effort to attend something in Sydney, even though I might be really interested in it.

The other reason I think it’s been happening is because creative exposure breeds more creativity.  I am in that space where I have allowed myself the freedom to try new things, explore, expose myself to new creative experiences.  I’ve allowed myself to believe that this is my life.  That it’s perfectly reasonable to be doing these things.  That I belong amongst these things.  They are natural.  They are necessary.

That might sound really obvious, but for someone who has denied the creative part of her life for a good 20 years, they are not obvious, and I have to struggle all the time with “permission” to “indulge”.  There is a voice within me that brings me down and tells me that I’m being selfish.  Self-indulgent.  That it’s a waste of time.  That I have responsibilities and therefore am being irresponsible.  It’s a loud voice, and I must overcome it.

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way has two activities that she insists you need to be disciplined about if you want to discover or recover your creativity .  The first is Morning Pages and the second is Artist Date.  I love the concept of both, but am not disciplined about either.  But I have been doing my Morning Pages on the train each day I’ve travelled to PACT and been on many Artist’s dates in the last two months.

Here’s some of the things I’ve been up to during this time.

Dark Mofo, Hobart, 10-14 June

Where I experienced

IMG_2409

Hobart is transformed during this winter festival

Anthony McCall:  Solid Light Works, Landscape for Fire, Night Ship
Bastiaan Maris:  Fire Organ
Patricia Piccinini + Peter Hennessey:  The Shadows Calling
The Rabble:  Orlando, Theatre Royal
Lucy Bleach:  Radiant Heat
Jason James:  Angry Electrons
Tyrone Sheather:  Giidanyba
Marina Abramovic:  Private Archaeology, Museum of Old and New Art, exhibition grand opening
Film:  A Second Chance, Directed by Susanne Bier, at the State Cinema
At the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery I saw exhibitions by John Kelly (Beyond Woop Woop), Patrick Hall (Things I Once Knew, a survey exhibition of his work) and the permanent exhibition Our Land:  parrawa, parrawa! Go away! in the Bond Store Galleries, which documents the Black War, the dark period of Tasmania’s history following European invasion.

 

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The Great Speckled Bird, PACT centre for emerging artists, 17 June

Created by Ryan McGoldrick, performed with Claire Stejpanovic and Steve Wilson-Alexander, all UoW grads.

Rites of Passage, ABC 1, Sunday 28 June

Directed by Phillip Crawford, produced by arts organisation Beyond Empathy.  I had a small part in this film, made by young people living in the most disadvantaged communities in the Illawarra.  It was very exciting to see it screened on the ABC.

Marina Abramovic in Residence, Kaldor Public Arts Project 30, Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay, 3 July

I lost myself for an unknown period of time participating in a range of Marina’s durational exercises, designed to help an artist engage fully in the present. I loved it.  I am always rushing from one thing to the next, running late, trying to fit one more thing in, dealing with the cacophony in my head and a multitude of distractions.  This forced me to expunge all of that and SLOW DOWN.

Mother Courage and Her Children, Belvoir St Theatre, 7 July

We are studying Brecht in Spring semester in our Political Dramaturgy subject, with Mother Courage one of the set works.  Is it possible to do Brecht in this day and age? Great to see Robyn Nevin at work, but not sure this packed the political punch it could have.

TV Commercial Casting Call, Outcast International, Wollongong 9 July

I took the plunge and rocked up to a casting.  Wendy Green is originally from Wollongong, now living and working in the US.  Her casting company specialises in finding odd, quirky, “outcasts” for film and TV projects.  Didn’t get cast, but experienced the process for the first time and didn’t talk myself out of it beforehand.

24 Frames Per Second, Carriageworks, 15 July

24 Frames - Untitled

Byron Perry + Antony Hamilton, Untitled

Didn’t leave myself enough time to fully immerse myself in the multitude of video installations.  Had the best fun playing with Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton’s work Untitled, where I could control the video projection of one or the other through a keyboard synchronised to frames of the video/audio.  In the videos, Byron and Antony were pulling funny faces while speaking and sometimes making random noises.  The blurb says “The installation is an attempt to place the participants in a situation where they can be swept up in the ridiculousness and sublime joy of unbridled creativity”. That’s exactly what it was.

Love and Information, Sydney Theatre Company, 15 July

I laughed my head off, then soon after could not subdue a flood of silent tears during one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen staged.  A testament to the power of simplicity in design, the power of symbols and suggestion and an incredible achievement for any director and cast to bring together this curious and complex … can’t even call it a play … by Caryl Churchill.  This is an example of everything that contemporary theatre can be about.

Lore, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, 24 July

My first time seeing Bangarra perform.  Bonus was that I won tickets through Merrigong Theatre Company.  Shared this one with my family.

 

Reflecting back on it all, I’m very impressed!  No wonder I’m so exhausted!

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Week

working 9-5

Those days are long gone in Australia!

Talk about busy!  No time to be bored.  Definitely have plenty to do.  Actually, more than enough.  This week I worked extra hours on my Tuesday and then worked on the train to and from PACT on Wednesday, as well as finished off some work when I got home.  With deadlines looming, my conscience (and work ethic) really wouldn’t let me walk away from the week without having ticked off more of the jobs on my list.  If I was to ever work in Sydney and was using public transport to get there, I think this would be one of the hugest challenges for me.  At the moment in my paid employment, I usually keep working until the jobs are done.  I have never been good at working my set hours.  This is good and bad. In 2014 The Australia Institute released a report valuing the unpaid overtime that workers donate to their employers at $100 billion.  It would be impossible to work like that if I had a train to catch (and I wanted to stay married)!

I don’t know how PACT would get along without interns.  At the moment there are several projects running or in development, all requiring a huge amount of publicity to try and get audiences in.  With little to no budget for advertising, PACT relies heavily on social media promotion and direct e-mailing through their e-News subscription and targeted e-mails to the contact lists they’ve built up over time.  The marketing coordinator only works two days a week and the artistic program manager works three days a week.  That’s pretty light on for human resources.

A brand new area for me was discovering the world of “listings”.  There are loads of websites that offer an event listing service, all of them free.  Some charge for listings with more details, but most of the ones I worked on this week allowed me to upload images and quite extensive details about PACT’s upcoming events.  Learning about this is invaluable – it’s definitely something I can use in the future if I’m involved in any kind of producing or marketing role.  Does it pay off with bums on seats?  It would be interesting to know as it was quite time consuming.

I worked on new project this week.  BBM Youth Support partners with PACT to offer a travelling scholarship valued at $8,000 to a young emerging performing artist to travel to the UK and further their professional development.  I created the webpage and began the targeted marketing to get the word out through universities and other arts organisations.  This year’s scholarship recipient is Christie Woodhouse, a UoW Bachelor of Performance graduate.  Christie and I have a coffee date planned on her return because she is learning all about socially engaged arts practice, visiting theatre companies in the UK that have been working with marginalised people for many years.  That’s something I’m very interested in talking about with her.

The other big job of the week has been interviewing each of the PACT Collective artists and releasing their interviews on social media as a promotion for their upcoming performance, Listen! I’m telling you stories, 22-25 July.  You can find my interviews on the PACT Blog here.

The PACT Collective enjoying Thai Thursdays

The PACT Collective enjoying Thai Thursdays

Morning yoga for the PACT Collective

Morning yoga for the PACT Collective

Voice training with Mara Davis (UoW grad and now UoW tutor)

Voice training with Mara Davis (UoW grad and now UoW tutor)

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!

‪#‎freethearts‬

 

 

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.

I want to be a performing artist …

There, I said it!

For many reasons – some personal, many cultural – it’s a hard thing to admit.  I’m in my 40s, I’m the daughter of Greek migrants and my mother wanted me to be an accountant, I have a marriage, a mortgage and a child, I’ve had career success in “real” jobs …. so what the hell am I thinking?  And why the hell would I admit it?  Publicly!

Well, the admission is a first step to taking myself seriously, creating some accountability, and acknowledging that it’s OK.  It’s OK to want that (I had to say it twice because I still have to convince myself).

Recommended reading

No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.

Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

I have Steve Jobs and Julia Cameron to thank for the journey I’m now on.  On the day Steve Jobs died, I was searching online to purchase Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  Someone had recommended it to me.  I have to make another admission … here goes … I didn’t actually know at the time who Steve Jobs was (I know, right!) but this quote appeared in a sidebar:

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Steve Jobs

It could have easily slipped my eye, but I saw it, and my heart exploded.  So I checked out who this Steve Jobs was, and found out that he had just died.  And I went straight to the University of Wollongong website and applied for the Bachelor of Creative Arts – Theatre, even though the deadline for applications had passed.

Obviously, I had done a lot of thinking about this for a very long time beforehand, but I had always convinced myself it was impossible.

Because I was scared.

And because my dearly departed mother’s voice still had a lot of influence on my thinking.

Here I am, four years later, still studying, managing to keep up with the young ‘uns, and starting an internship  in June 2015 at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists.

Did I ever think that could remotely have been possible four years ago … 10 years ago … 20?  I think you know the answer!