WELCOME TO THE AUTUMN ENEWS FOR THE AUSTRALIAN YOUTH PERFORMING ARTS INDUSTRY. LET’S KICK OFF WITH SOME TIMELY QUESTIONS FROM KEVIN DU PREEZ, MONKEY BAA.
The world outside our stage doors, rehearsal rooms and creative spaces looks nothing like it did two years ago. Yet I am humbled by the ambition of the youth performing arts sector to reconnect and inspire young people all around Australia.
Here at Monkey Baa, we have spent the past 6 months re-imagining our ways of working (again!) and, similar to so many of our sector colleagues, we are exploring new ways to re-engage with our communities. I can’t think of a model that hasn’t been re-modelled. From experimenting with a ‘slow’ touring model; to the creation of an investment model for commissioning new works; to building capacity of staff, systems and governance; to enhancing our teaching artist approach working with local contacts across Australia.
But first, the impacts of COVID-19 on young people are not yet fully understood. This is concerning. The next few years will be dynamic and, as a sector, we will need to stay very close to our purpose to empower and enable young people to navigate this uncertainty. Mental health and wellbeing of the young people we work for/with/by demands our urgent attention.
How can we collaborate to build our capacity as a sector to create safe spaces for your young audiences to explore these issues?
Many of our organisations work with the education system and are currently navigating how to involve teachers and students in our programs in a Covid-new world. It is now universally agreed that the arts and creativity should play an important part in every young person’s education. And – wow – how true that has been during the past two years.
Excitingly, the educators we engage with tell us that they are super keen for their students to come back to live theatre and are actively working towards this. But there appears to be a range of barriers slowing this return for many schools. Teachers are overworked, under-resourced and school policies are limiting how students re-engaging with theatre, particularly excursions.
How do we make our teachers’ lives just that little easier? How can we adapt our work to make this return a bit smoother?
I am so thrilled that ATYP is leading the charge in connecting our sector and can’t wait for our gathering in July. The power of connecting with our colleagues and peers should never be underestimated. I know our time and resources are limited but my encouragement for all leaders in our sector is to prioritise reaching out to each other and be open to learning from our peers.
Which areas of your development can do with some external insight? What sector colleague will you contact today to say hello and ask how you can lend a hand?
Finally, the arts landscape will be irrevocably changed post-COVID. At this moment in time, the youth art sector has the opportunity to strengthen itself and look towards the future. A future that is more sustainable and more equitable; a future where the arts are fiercely valued by all society and where all of our organisations can thrive.