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!

 

Meet our new Digital Projects Officer

Orana Arts welcomes Shelby Russo-Vooles to the team as a part-time Digital Projects Officer. Get to know Shelby, who will be unveiling the new Pop-Up Creators program in early 2019. 

How did you get started in the arts?

From a very young age I was always encouraged to be creative with painting, singing and acting — I have been in every school play since prep participating in a variety of roles from the lead character to chorus. I also attended workshops and summer camps to complement my drama classes. I was lucky enough to go to a school that was able to fund a beautiful arts department with state-of-the-art equipment, offering a hands-on experience in many mediums including, paint, clay, burning and etching.

I have always loved video games and animation and it sparked my desire to create games and animations like the ones I would play and watch. That has always been a dream of mine since I was very young and I cannot wait to delve into these mediums in the future.

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What do you love about working in the theatre?

The passion and excitement you get from being involved — there is something absolutely magical about being on the journey that theatre takes you! I love seeing the transformation of a production from the brainstorming stage to the final piece, especially because you know that a team of people made it happen: from a textured set piece to the blocking of someone’s foot, it is a massive collaboration and it’s beautiful. I have experienced being both the invisible backstage creator and the lead and they both equally give you a wonderful space to be creative and evolve with the end product. 

What was the last production that you saw?

The last production I saw was an original musical called Schapelle Schapelle. It was written and produced by close friends of mine as a part of Sprung Festival in Bathurst. It followed the story of Schapelle Corby and her infamous boogie board drug bust in Bali. It was an exceptionally well-written production that left you laughing and on the edge of your seat as they danced through the scandals from the family, news reports and Schapelle herself — all accompanied by a live band at the back of the stage!

As our Digital Projects Officer, you will be running Pop Up Creators in 2019 — what excites you about this program and what can our communities expect to see?

I am most excited about being able to use Pop-Up Creators to give our communities a chance to interact and channel their creativity through technology and design. I am very passionate about the ways that we can positively merge technology into art and creative outlets. I am excited to announce that I am already working on a coding workshop that can enable our community to learn the fundamentals of coding and implement it in real time using fun and quirky methods! 

Join our team!

POSITION AVAILABLE: ABORIGINAL ARTS PROJECT CURATOR

Are you passionate about Indigenous arts? Do you want to contribute to and support regional creative communities? Orana Arts is seeking applications for a part-time (21 hours a week) Aboriginal Arts Project Curator to assist the Orana Arts team in delivering and developing exhibitions under the OA Aboriginal arts programs across the Orana region.

Position Description
You will be assisting with wide-ranging curatorial activities including contributing to ATSIA programs plans and strategies; community liaison and consultation; project support and development; managing creative performances and exhibitions; communications and marketing; and facilitating workshops across various locations. This role will also be supported by the Western Plains Cultural Centre, which provides the AAPC an opportunity to work with the WPCC curatorial team.

The AAPC will work with the Project Manager to curate a culturally appropriate exhibition utilising a cross-disciplinary approach — in keeping with the innovative approach of the CETA program. Through this process the curator will gain experience in planning an exhibition; sourcing content; approaching and working with artists; liaising with community; working with the Project Manager and the Communications Manager to execute and promote the exhibition. 

The Aboriginal Arts Project Curator will be required to:
assist in the development of partnerships, opportunities, programs and projects with creatives, organisations and community groups to enhance creative skills, practice and knowledge
— oversee the OA exhibition space at the WPCC
— support the development of artists database
— assist in ATSIA programs communications
— curate Aboriginal Arts exhibition 

Skills and Experience
The successful candidate will:
— be of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage
— have a keen interest in regional Aboriginal Arts and culture
— have a demonstrated capacity to contribute to the development and implementation of an Aboriginal Arts and Culture projects and team
— hold an Employee Working with Children Check (mandatory)
— be prepared to undertake an Australian Criminal History Check (mandatory)
— hold a current NSW Driver’s Licence (mandatory) and be willing to travel
— be motivated and reliable

Please submit your application, including a cover letter and resumé, by 5pm, Friday 1 February 2019. To speak with someone about this exciting opportunity, please contact:

Alicia Leggett
Executive Director
0429 945 811
rado@oranaarts.com

Please note: you must be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident to apply for this position. This role as been funded by Create NSW from the Creative Koori initiative and is a six month contract position.

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Hanging out with OA for six years: farewell to Paris Norton

Art Unlimited 2012: a young aspiring photographer takes the Orana Arts prize for Emerging Indigenous Artist. The winning photograph ‘Uncle Bud’ played with layering techniques aiming for texture, while capturing an image of cultural strength and pride. It was evident that the artist had self-imposed a challenge with the medium as well as the subject and it inspired me to award this work the prize. The artwork was progressive and refreshing and very much a representation of the young artist — and it was this energy that was eventually brought to Orana Arts when Paris Norton joined the team.

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After my brief encounter with Paris at the exhibition in Dunedoo, I tracked her down in her boutique store in Coonabarabran to encourage her to participate in our Left Field Project. Her involvement with OA went from artist to part-time admin support as an unofficial member of the team. As months passed and funding became available, a few days grew into a few years and a full time position resulting into Paris becoming our ATSIA Programs Manager. 

Her humility has always struck me as her strength; her ability to inspire those around her either with her creative vision or leading conversations by pushing for Aboriginal voices to be heard. Her brainchild, the CETA program, is evidence of her abilities. 

Paris may say that I was a major part of her growth in the arts world, but she has given me more than she could ever imagine. Her insight and respect for her culture provided me with what I needed most in my role: someone that I can talk to, someone who helped guide me and our organisation in moving forward with Aboriginal programs and artists. Someone described Paris to me as being gentle, with an ability to be persuasive in her commentary on Indigenous issues. She stands very tall and proud as a Gamilaroi woman and I’m confident that her voice is one that will be heard by many future generations. 

Warm and fuzzy feelings are scarce in my role as Executive Director, but I received one from Paris when she jokingly mentioned that her family referred to me as her ‘American Mom’ and then at a panel session that Paris was convening for OA, as I sat in the audience her Mum turned to me and said, ‘oh, Alicia our little girl is all grown up’. Yes, she is all grown up and I will miss her! 

The greatest compliment I could have received as the boss of OA was to have staff headhunted out of my team for greater opportunities within a major cultural institute, and on behalf of our Board and the OA team we wish Paris well in her new role as AIATSIS curator,  we can’t wait to see what she brings to the position. 

 

Alicia Rodriguez Leggett
Executive Director 

 

PS – Paris will still be overseeing many of her own programs and supporting her mentee Danielle Andrews as she joins the OA Board as a co-opted member in 2019. 

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Meet our new Cultural Projects Officer

Thanks to Creative Koori funding through Create NSW, Orana Arts has been able to employ Danielle Andrews to work with our ATSIA Programs Manager Paris Norton on the CETA program and other projects. Danielle is a Gamilaroi woman who grew up in Coonabarabran and is now based in Dubbo. Danielle shares a bit about herself below.

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My journey in the arts started when I was 10 years old with learning to play the clarinet and violin. In high school I discovered my love for musical theatre, performing in three school productions. From here I knew I wanted a career in the arts, so I attended Charles Sturt University to study a Bachelor of Communications for Theatre/Media. During my time studying I gained knowledge in a number of different theatre styles and roles. Roles I worked in included: hair/makeup design, costume design, set design, musical directing, stage management, dramaturgy, AV design, and even performance. Furthermore, I have been dancing since the age of three which provided me with the skills necessary to gain work with an indigenous Dance company from Armidale, which then gave me the tools needed to create my own dance troupe of young girls in my local community of Coonabarabran. The dance group specialised in Traditional Dance and performed at many formal events throughout the community. 

My proudest professional moment so far has been landing the role of cultural projects officer here at Orana Arts. I’m ecstatic to know within this position I will have the opportunity to stay connected with all the communities involved, continue to develop my artistic skills, and assist in creating opportunities for rural communities to express their own artistic stories.

Growing up in rural Australia I understand how artistic forms and styles can seem difficult to access. I remember having to travel to Sydney on a regular basis just to experience theatre or exhibitions. I am excited to know that I am part of an organisation that endeavours to create opportunities for regional communities to not only experience different styles of art but also allow the community to learn how to create their own masterpieces.  

The last production I went to see was Cosi, a comedy by Louis Nowra performed by the school of communication and creative industries and cycle productions in Bathurst. The show takes place in a psychiatric hospital where a young Australian director tries to create an adaption of the Mozart opera ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ with patients in the hospital. The performance was hilarious and I was blown away by the overall aesthetic of the show. 

Meet the New Orana Arts Board

Orana Arts is pleased to announce a new board structure and the election of a new executive. As part of our strategic plan, Orana Arts has been working towards a new structure which will maximise skills and allow us to host cultural forums in communities across our region, so that everyone gets a say in arts and culture in the Orana Region. 

Chairperson
Anne-Louise Capel

Anne-Louise has a Bachelor of Business and volunteers for community groups including the Coolah District Development Group. She has an agricultural background and is a Warrumbungle Shire Council Councillor. In her second term as Chairperson, Anne-Louise continues to value preserving and enhancing a strong sense of community and communication across the region, as well as working collaboratively to implement the Orana Arts Strategic Plan in a timely and fiscally responsible manner.

Deputy Chairperson
Virginia Handmer

Virginia has extensive local government and community services experience, having worked across art forms and in youth engagement for many years. She is an artist and curator at Number 47 Gallery in Rylstone and has a strong track record of volunteering for community cultural events. Virginia lends her expertise to cultural committees, including the Rylstone Sculptures Inc, Mudgee Readers’ Festival and the MWRC Cultural Development Committee. 

Secretary
Danielle Littlewood

Danielle is the Marketing and Events Manager for Zest Events. She brings a range of experience working in community engagement, event planning and project management to the Orana Arts board. Danielle has a sound track record in client and event management, customer service, stakeholder facilitation and community empowerment obtained through her previous roles as Regional Landcare Facilitator for Central Western NSW, Environmental Consultant with GHD Pty Ltd, and Catchment Officer with the Lachlan CMA. Danielle has an eye for detail, an understanding of community engagement and a strong sustainability ethos.

Treasurer
Jessica Moore

Jessica has had a significant career in the arts for close to 20 years, including working in Council Cultural and Public Arts Development units, regional galleries, TAFE and the commercial arts sector. Currently employed as the Collections Officer at the Western Plains Cultural Centre, she has also previously been a committee member of the Dubbo and Districts Australian and Decorative Arts Society and a founding member of the Dream Festival. She remains an active and committed contributor to a number of ongoing cultural projects and initiatives in the Orana region.

The Orana Arts Executive wishes to thank the outgoing board members for their services. The new board looks forward to supporting the exciting strategic plans for the organisation, including cultural forums across communities in the Orana Region. 

For any questions about the Orana Arts board or constitution, please contact Alicia Leggett: rado@oranaarts.com

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