Western Edge Youth Arts announces co-Artistic Directors

Western Edge Youth Arts Co-Artistic Directors - Penny Harpham and Tariro Mavondo - photo by Jorge de AraujoWestern Edge Youth Arts (WEYA) has announced that Penny Harpham and Tariro Mavondo and will join the organisations as co-Artistic Directors – bringing together multifaceted artistic experience and incredible passion for working with young emerging artists in Melbourne’s west.

WEYA Chair of the Board of Management, Jock Jeffries, explained that following a thorough national search and conversations with an exceptional field of candidates, the Board are thrilled that Harpham and Mavondo will be joining the talented and dedicated team at WEYA.

“The Board and I are inspired by Tariro and Penny’s shared vision, which will guide the company into a bold future. We are deeply compelled by their ingrained and open approaches to collaborate; their values for new contemporary forms; and their genuine engagement with the communities we work with,” said Jeffries.

An award-winning theatre director and performer, Harpham comes to WEYA with a varied portfolio of experience, including as the co-Founder and co-Artistic Director of independent theatre company, She Said Theatre. “This is a galvanizing moment and a great honour to lead Western Edge Youth Arts with Tariro,” says Harpham.

“The company has an outstanding track record of inclusive programming with communities and young people in Melbourne’s west. Currently each week, we engage with 360 young people who have amazing talent and ideas. We have endless possibilities to deepen the impact of our programs – it’s an absolutely exhilarating opportunity.”

Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Frankston, Mavondo has substantial experience as a multidisciplinary artist, performer and award-winning spoken word poet – she is the founder of Africa’s Got Talent Australia, a co-Founder of Centre of Poetics and Justice and is currently working with Bell Shakespeare on Titus Andronicus.

“Transformation begins with hearing each other’s stories and Western Edge Youth Arts has arguably been the vanguard in championing diverse stories from marginalised young people through theatre, as well as supporting the next generation of culturally diverse arts leaders,” says Mavondo. “Penny and I want to inspire and be strong role models. And I cannot wait to dig deep to collaborate, be socially engaged and create inclusive work.”

Harpham and Mavondo will follow the WEYA legacy of many, most notably Dr Dave Kelman, who was Co-Artistic Director / Artistic Director throughout 2006 – 2018. With WEYA CEO, Sally Farr, Harpham and Mavondo will form part of the WEYA leadership team to implement an evolved and re-energised vision for the company.

Harpham will start immediately as WEYA Co-Artistic Director (previously WEYA Associate Director) and Mavondo will commence on Tuesday 1 October 2019.

Since 1994, Western Edge Youth Arts has focused on the co-design of dynamic productions with young people under 26 that engage and give voice to diverse communities in Melbourne’s west. For more information, visit: www.westernedge.org.au for details.

Image: Penny Harpham and Tariro Mavondo – photo by Jorge de Araujo