Sparrow Mentors: empowering the Australian arts community

Sparrow-MentorsConnecting and empowering creatives to change their lives, and the lives of others, through their work,  Shaun Rennie has announced the launch of a new artistic mentoring program, Sparrow Mentors.

Whether you are a recent acting school graduate, a director of independent theatre, a stage manager touring with a commercial musical or a producer drafting your first budget; Sparrow Mentors believe all creatives should feel empowered to change their lives, and the lives of others, through their work.

When COVID-19 first hit Australian shores, theatre director Shaun Rennie was working with students at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). As theatres closed across the country, Shaun introduced the devastated students to a handful of suddenly-out-ofwork industry professionals in an effort to ease anxiety about their futures and provide them with a sounding board during this challenging time.

Feedback from the students and professionals alike was overwhelmingly positive. There was clearly a need for creatives to feel connected and empowered; particularly whilst a global pandemic wreaked havoc in the live performance industry.

With the support of a Cultural Resilience Grant from the City of Sydney and guidance from leading mentorship-training business Art of Mentoring, Rennie has recruited eleven industry leaders from across disciplines and designed a pilot program for Sparrow that will provide career-changing mentorships to the most exciting and promising artists in the sector.

Once matched, Sparrow will facilitate a six-month mentorship, providing both mentor and mentee with training, guidance and support throughout the relationship.

“I believe in the ability of artists to shape a better world and I believe in the potential and passion of my colleagues and the young artists I work with,” said Sparrow Founder Shaun Rennie. “Being a professional artist can feel like you are alone at sea without a compass. I hope this program will help artists experience a sense of community and upward mobility in our sector during this difficult time.”

“Sparrow is an opportunity to be challenged, inspired and encouraged by someone who has been where you are and is willing to share their experiences and the lessons they’ve learned along the way,” said Mr Rennie.

Sparrow has recruited mentors from across a broad range of theatre disciplines. Each mentor is a bona fide leader in their field. Each of them having “walked the walk” and earned great respect in the industry.

Mentors include Kelley Abbey (Choreographer, Actor, Dancer, Director), Mitchell Butel (Actor, Director, Artistic Director), Michael Cassell (Producer), Trudy Dalgleish (Lighting Designer), Alex Duffy (Stage Manager), Wesley Enoch (Director, Writer, Artistic Director), Virginia Gay (Actor, Writer), Benjamin Law (Writer), Eddie Perfect (Actor, Composer, Lyricist, Comedian), Simon Phillips (Director) and Ursula Yovich (Actor, Writer, Director).

Beyond the founding mentorships, Tony Award-nominated director Alex Timbers will meet with their Director Members while he is in Australia to direct Moulin Rouge next year, and Lisa Campbell, casting director and chairperson of the Hayes Theatre Co, will be a guest on Sparrow’s “In Conversation Series” to be recorded and streamed to all Sparrow Members. Details for these and future events will be posted on the Sparrow Website.

Beyond the mentor/mentee relationships, Sparrow will provide additional opportunities for its members throughout the year. These opportunities will include: exclusive access to specialised webinars, an “In Conversation Series” that will be streamed and made available for members and other networking and social events. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Kelley Abbey, Mitchell Butel, Michael Cassell, Trudy Dalgleish, Alex Duffy, Wesley Enoch, Virginia Gay, Benjamin Law, Eddie Perfect, Simon Phillips and Ursula Yovich (supplied)