The National Fellowships program is a Regional Arts Fund initiative to address a gap in career pathways, income security and professional development opportunities for emerging and established artists in regional Australia.
“Each artist will be supported to design their fellowship to the needs of their contemporary practice and be provided the opportunity for professional development that values the local, alongside national and international experience,” said Regional Arts Australia’s Executive Director, Ros Abercrombie.
Under the program, each artist will pursue a project that considers the impact of drought and bushfires within their geographic location, demonstrating the strengths of regional arts practice and the strong ties to the physical environment.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, congratulated this year’s Fellowship recipients who will receive a financial boost of up to $20,000 enabling them to further develop their craft and contribute to cultural initiatives in their communities.
“Drought and bushfires have had a devastating impact in our regions,” said Minister Fletcher. “The Fellowship grants will allow these five talented recipients the opportunity to interpret their experience of living in a bushfire or drought affected area, explore the struggles and resilience of impacted communities, and share those stories through art.”
The successful recipients of the National Regional Arts Fellowship are:
• Kristina Chan (Red Head, NSW) – to undertake a mentorship in community cultural development, and lead creative workshops mentoring young people in drought and bushfire affected areas, culminating in a new performance work.
• Jack Sheppard (Far North Queensland) – to undertake creative development of his play Serpent Waters with a small team, including members of the First Nations and arts community in Cairns.
• Alex Wisser (mid-Western NSW) – to explore socially engaged arts practice with communities living in drought affected areas and the contribution culture can have on wellbeing and resilience.
• Bethany Reece (Tasmania) – to work with a mentor, composer and another dancer to develop her first independent dance work reflecting on the impact of human life on the climate over history.
• Vanessa Keenan (Snowy Mountains, NSW) – to work with five professional artists directly impacted by the fires to develop an outdoor arts experience.
Jack Sheppard who received the First Nations fellowship said of his project: “The show in itself is a chance for the first Nations community and the broader community to talk, problem solve, unite, and encourage self-reflection; the result would be a way to bring Indigenous artists and arts workers together professionally; to explore our own lived experiences and how they relate to water and drought in a cultural and political context.”
The National Regional Arts Fellowships are offered through the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government funding program that supports sustainable cultural development in the regions. For more information, visit: www.regionalarts.com.au for details.
Image: Top (l-r) Alex Wisser, Vanessa Keenan (photo – Natalie Ord) and Kristina Chan (photo – Joshua Morris). Bottom (l-r) Bethany Reece and Jack Sheppard.