Our Year in Art: 2018

The Orana Arts team closes an exciting and ambitious year of cultural projects and major partnerships by sharing their 2018 highlights. 

Alicia Rodriguez Leggett, Executive Director 
It has been a very busy year for all of us with so many highlights, but two very personal moments stand out for me.

Watching the first Black Box Creatives production of Brainstorm and seeing how proud everyone was of the show was a big one. My eldest daughter was in the show and it was what she had always wanted in a performance — it was relevant and poignant to her sense of place and identity. The enthusiasm carried over from the young performers to the professionals who make the BBC shows happen: Camilla Ward and Andrew Glassop. Everyone was talking about this "out of the box" piece of theatre and how well it went off. Listening to them talk about where to from here and how many more people need to see it was invigorating — it wasn't just over for them after that one performance. Brainstorm was a catalyst to further development. 

Another touching moment was at the staging of A Little Piece of Heaven: getting a hug and a thank you from Aunty Violet (Ruth Carney's elder) after the show brought me to tears. 

The Black Box Creatives rehearse Brainstorm.

The Black Box Creatives rehearse Brainstorm.

Michelle Hall, Strategic Projects and Partnerships  

One of the true privileges of my role is working with the most disengaged/disadvantaged members of society and giving them a voice through creative investment. To see the truly vulnerable trust us with their stories, regain their spirit and feel a sense of place and pride through art is incredible. 

There have been many wonderful moments seeing the transformation the arts have made to people and communities, but the moments happen because of the artists we work with and the partnerships we foster — in particular:

The incredible team of A Little Piece of Heaven: John, Paris, Alison, Annie, Sam and Lee. Their personal commitment and support to our Elders Aunty Ruth and Uncle Dick Carney is something that I will always be grateful for and value. 

The visual and music artists within our CSI Program: Andy, Clint, Dale, Louise, Luke, Amanda and Joh, who invest so much of themselves so that the community they work within have opportunities for change and growth through art.

Our partners: Andrew Glassop at the Western Plains Cultural Centre, Sam Wild from Create NSW, Brad Peebles from Corrective Services NSW — your sanity, support and strategic guidance is so highly appreciated and valued. 

All of you made 2018 a year where — through art — we make the world a better place. Thank you.

Aunty Ruth and Uncle Dick Carney on stage during the Dubbo performance of A Little Piece of Heaven.

Aunty Ruth and Uncle Dick Carney on stage during the Dubbo performance of A Little Piece of Heaven.

Portia Lindsay, Communications Manager

My goals are around sharing stories and promoting literacy and literary engagement through our regional areas and I feel that this year I was a part of some powerful projects. My highlights were:

As General Manager of the Mudgee Readers’ Festival (MRF) I worked with local artists and community to develop and showcase the Aboriginal storytelling voice and celebrate Wiradjuri culture, through creative projects and discussions. The launch of the zine Burning at MRF in August was the stunning product of a workshop series that saw young people sharing and illustrating cultural and personal stories. I’m proud to see this Aboriginal storytelling and art project develop into 2019.   

This year I was invited to teach flash fiction as part of our CSI program. By the end of the session, participants were eagerly writing, re-working and reading aloud their stories. The warm atmosphere in the class enabled everyone to share their writing — sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious, always heartfelt — and it was a privilege to facilitate the self-expression of people who don’t always have a voice.

I have also really enjoyed working with our Art of Threatened Species resident artists to share their progress with the wider community. There is some terrific work developing and I’m looking forward to sharing more from the artists in 2019.

Launching the Burning zine at the 2018 Mudgee Readers’ Festival. Photo credit: Amber Hooper.

Launching the Burning zine at the 2018 Mudgee Readers’ Festival. Photo credit: Amber Hooper.

Danielle Andrews, Cultural Projects Officer
This year has been one of change for me: moving from Bathurst to Dubbo and being unsure whether this move was to be a positive development into my career, then landing the role of Cultural Projects Officer at Orana Arts. 

The greatest highlight would be the variety of people I have met in the short time I have been in this current role. Through attending Artstate in Bathurst (images below), I have met industry professionals from all over the NSW and it was invigorating to meet so many people with the same overall drive to enhance regional arts in Australia.

I have become aware of so many artists within the Orana Region; those who I have worked with personally and those who I admire and am yet to meet. The people who stand out most to me and have really guided my professional development is my team at Orana Arts. They have all been so welcoming, giving me the confidence and guidance in developing my skills.

Another highlight for this year has been the opportunity to work alongside the Black Box Creative’s theatre company with their team of students and facilitators. They have embraced the ideas I have brought to the company and I have learnt a great deal and come to appreciate their family-like connection.

This year has been the start of my professional development in the arts sector and with 2019 right around the corner I feel as though there is plenty of adventure in store with Orana Arts.

Shelby, Digital Projects Officer 

My proudest professional moment of 2018 was completing my Bachelor of Theatre Media major work Rumble as part of the Sprung Festival. I wrote and performed in a comedy stage production that was a Sprung Festival first for paving the way theatre and technology work together. Rumble is a choose-your-own-adventure stage play where the audience can choose the plot and outcomes in real time through a mobile app (images below). There are fifteen different choices and five different endings with improvisation and audience interaction throughout. It was a video game for stage that followed four university students through the Amazon forest as the audience tried to keep them alive and guide them through booby-traps, ghosts, talking artefacts, poisonous plants and everything else the jungle could throw at them. 

My main goals were for the audience to have lots of fun and to also break the stigma of technology within traditional theatre. Having achieved both — as well as single-handedly writing and creating this production — made Rumble my proudest moment of 2018!