On the Couch with Rachel Healy

Rachel-Healy-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Rachel Healy?
Joint Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival, long-term arts manager, producer and cultural policy wonk. Mum to Vincent, Frank and Miriam. Winner of Adelaide Festival’s 2020 AFL tipping competition.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Get out of bed earlier. Exercise more. Learn to speak another language fluently. Be a better role model for my kids in my daily reliance on digital devices.

Who inspires you and why?
There are so many inspirational artists across in Australia and across the globe: pianist Igor Levit, choreographers Crystal Pite and Hofesh Shechter, directors Michaela Coel and Barrie Kosky – all of them are not only truly great artists, they are all fully engaged in the world’s most pressing contemporary social and political issues, made visible in their work in thrilling and unexpected ways.

I was utterly inspired by Richard Harris and Craig Challen (the Australians who helped rescue 12 boys and their coach from a flooded Thai cave) for their capacity to remain calm, rational and focused in a life-and-death situation over many days and in the full glare of the world’s media. I also really admire Marcia Langton, Don Watson and Yanis Varoufakis for their erudition and contribution to Australia’s intellectual life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Make music education – all forms – a compulsory subject in the curriculum for both primary and secondary schooling.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Patonga on the NSW Central Coast where my parents live is an oasis of calm, and provides the restorative value of ocean swims, long walks through the national park and proximity to Umina’s Hot Bread Shop for its nation-leading banh mi.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they are in town during Mad March its very easy – an immersion in 17 days and nights of the Adelaide Festival – extraordinary performances by remarkable artists at night, Writers’ Week and WOMAD by day, and studded with some of the great dining experiences imaginable: Africola, Peel Street Bistro, 2KW, Parwana Afghan Kitchen in the city, Star of Greece at Port Willunga, Harvest in the Barossa, Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale, Estia at Henley Beach. I could name a further 50 essential local foodie experiences without really trying. And then there are picnics and wine with local produce from the Adelaide Central Market – I travel all over the globe and as a fresh produce market it is unquestionably one of the best.

What are you currently reading?
There’s a few on the go and more in the queue: Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, Samantha Irby’s Wow, No Thank You, Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire and two, I confess, I should’ve read long before now: Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man and Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip. Roll on summer holidays…

What are you currently listening to?
Radio National alternating with San Cisco, Wafia, Jaguar Jonze, George Maple, Donny Benet, The Shaolin Afronauts, Torrio!, Ben Lee and Mo’Ju. And a final listen to my partner, Alan John’s complete recording of The Eighth Wonder before its released on a new website.

Happiness is?
On a beach holiday on a warm summer night, Rufus Wainwright on the stereo, champagne in hand, having a meal and laugh with family and close friends. There’s also newly purchased artworks by Vincent Namatjira, Pierre Mukeba and Zoe Young hanging on the wall (I wish!)

What does the future hold for you?
Curating and delivering three more Adelaide Festivals – 2021, 2022 and 2023 – and then, I hope, a fresh set of challenges and some cultural policy and advocacy work.

Rachel is the Joint Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival with Neil Armfield AO – who were recently presented with the Arts Leadership Award at the 2020 Creative Partnerships Awards. The Awards recognise extraordinary people who support and invest in the arts and, with their commitment and dedication, actively encourage others to do the same. For more information, visit: www.creativepartnershipsaustralia.org.au for details.

Image: Rachel Healy (supplied)