Over the next couple of weeks WEYA teaching artists are heading to three schools to work with young people and their teachers on creating new works that celebrate young people’s own voices and stories.
This week, Lilly Fish, Penny Harpham, Dave Kelman and Jane Rafe will begin year two of our residency at fabulous Whittington Primary School. This project involves 150 primary school students from Prep to Year 6. The project will adapt stories from the Arabian Nights to teach oral language, literacy and humanities and to create a huge community performance event scheduled for August. See details of the 2016 student show, Adventures in Ancient Greece.
Next week Penny Harpham, Dave Kelman, Katie Mudlin and Claire Pearson return to Victoria University Secondary College to begin year two of WEYA’s residency there, delivering a series of workshops on Shakespeare’s Othello that will engage every student in Year 10. WEYS will also run a Shakespeare based after school performance project for students in year 8 to 12 that will culminate in a major community performance at the school in September. How will WEYA follow up our extraordinary 2016 Samoan language Hamlet? Watch this space.
And in a couple of weeks time Lilly Fish and May Saba Sabet (new staff) will be kicking off our third year at North Geelong Secondary College, building on last year’s Romeo and Juliet of Corio project. This twenty week residency engages twenty English as a Second Language VCAL students from many different cultural backgrounds in a radical re-working of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a vehicle for exploring contemporary Australian society. The residency will culminate in a community performance at the school in September.
WEYA’s AGM was held on 10 April. Significantly, we farewelled our long serving Chair, Bernadette Fitzgerald after 9 years of incredible contribution to the organisation.
Bernadette joined the WEYA board in 2009, after having already had a long association with the SCRAYP program from which WEYA emerged, and has served as Chair since 2012. We thank her for her dedication and commitment, steering WEYA through some big transitions. WEYA also farewelled Narelle Sullivan who has also made lasting contributions as a board member over the last seven years.
WEYA welcomes Angela O’Brian as the new Chair of WEYA. Angela has been on the WEYA board since 2011 and brings a wealth of experience with which to lead a passionate board with diverse professional experience, over the year ahead.
WEYA also welcomes four new members Irena Baric, Mary Musolino, Jacki Graetz and Nikita Gossain, all of whom bring a variety of new industry connections, knowledge and passion for the arts. Jock Jeffries continues as our wonderful Treasurer and Rani Pramesti and Susan Russell also continue as board members.
The new boards first job this year was to approve the 2016 financial statements and release the 2016 Annual Report which you can read here.
Our Passionate Pathways feature for this month is the marvellous Michael Logo. Michael first became interested in acting when he was roped into a short film project as part of an after-school program with his younger brother in 2007. ‘I wasn’t really interested in anything like that before’ laughs Michael. ‘I was more interested in chasing girls’.
Eli the Invincible, was launched at ‘Broady’ (Broadmeadows) Cinema and went on to become an award winning short film, featured on SBS. It was about a young wrestling fan, trying to make sense of the racial violence surrounding him. Michael’s sensitivity for developing truthful characters has been there from the start. When Miranda Nation, creator of Eli the Invincible, handed him the script, he says, ‘I was like: Na, na. He wouldn’t talk like that. He’d say it like this’.
‘After school I thought about becoming a cop, or going into the army’ says Michael, who’s been living in Melbourne’s north-west since he was four, ‘But when that didn’t work out, I thought that I’d like to act’.
He got himself onto ‘Star Now’, which he says is something like ‘Facebook for actors where you can find work’. And got a lead role in a feature film Is This The Real World, working alongside a bunch of experienced actors. You can check out is IMDB profile here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4458253/?ref_=tt_cl_t3
Michael spent a year training with Verve Studios, where he studied stuff like Lecoq and ‘a whole lot of other’ theatre theory and training methodologies.
A year ago, a recommendation from Peta Hanrahan, with whom he studied at Verve, brought him to Western Edge Youth Arts, where he has made a rich contribution, both in the development of work, and as an actor in two key productions so far.
In Hamlet 2016, Michael played the ghost of Hamlet’s father, who in this inter-cultural retelling of the classic, spoke in Samoan language. Michael, proud of his Samoan cultural heritage, enjoyed the task of translating Shakespearian text into ‘the way I would say it in Samoan’. See Michael interviewed along with other participants here.
‘When I started out as an actor’ Michael says, ‘I thought I wanted to be in Hollywood…. Now I just want to keep acting. Being in the work – Just doing it. That’s all that matters.’
We’re super proud to have Michael here with us at Western Edge and can’t wait to see what he is developing along with the Phoenix Edge crew in the co-devised work they will be presenting at the Phoenix Youth Centre on 10 June. Details will be up on the WEYA website soon.
Congratulations to Geelong Edge ensemble member Irene Bakulikira on her acceptance into a Bachelor of Arts/Masters of Teaching at Deakin University. Irene has been a participant in Western Edge Youth Arts programs for the past three years.
Articulate and softly spoken, Irene has nursed a dream of being a teacher since she was a child, and with her introduction to performing arts through Western Edge, she has also developed an interest in making this part of her teaching career. She believes that her experience with Western Edge has built her confidence and courage and offered her insight into different values and cultures, as well as friendships.
Irene, who has already been teaching dance at the FORT Youth Center in Geelong, said that ‘Being a teacher requires confidence, and Western Edge has helped me develop that’. In first semester she is studying literature, philosophy, anthropology and sociology.
After completion of this degree, the plan is to undertake further study in Dance and Drama. The University application process included a personal statement and Irene feels that the passion with which she wrote about her love of dance, drama and teaching experiences was a factor in her success. Well done Irene and all the best with your studies!
Another huge and exciting year kicks off at Western Edge Youth Arts.
The education program will continue to push boundaries in 2017 – our planned programs at Whittington Primary School and North Geelong Secondary College will engage huge numbers of young people in rich educational experiences leading to fabulous performances for their school communities. We are also continuing our partnership with Victoria University Secondary College where the students will embark on the development of another radical Shakespeare adaptation of Macbeth. Penny Halpham teams up with writer Casey Nichols for this exciting gig.
The Geelong Edge’s new work, Walking The Line, is in creative development and will show at Geelong Performing Arts Centre in October. Concern over racism is on the march internationally and in Australia, and this uber-edgy drama explores the experience of people from diverse cultural backgrounds living in Geelong, with our trade mark mix of humour and complex drama. It’s great to have Reuben Zalme on board for this project both as a performer and as facilitator. Reuben is an amazing young artist with a long history with the company who has skills in circus, music and theatre.
Both of our community youth theatre groups have started the year with culturally diverse older teenagers collaborating with artists like Georgia Symons, Natalie Lucic, Rex Pelman and Ror Malongdout to make unique new works.
As I said, another huge year, but that’s what we pride ourselves on at WEYA – serving hundreds of young people and helping them to tell the stories that matter to them and their communities.
Western Edge Youth Arts is seeking a teaching artist to work on an in-school theatre workshop program for 20 weeks culminating in a production at the end of term 3.
Teaching artists with experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse young people to make original theatre productions are preferred. You should be able to demonstrate your ability to plan theatre workshop sessions, actively engage young people in theatre making and deliver an original theatre production with school participants.
Casual wage contract – $50 hr Approx 3 – 4 hrs a week, starting term 2. Additional hours required during rehearsal/produciton week.
Please send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
For enquiries contact Sally Farr, General Manager or Dave Kelman, Artistic Director Western Edge Youth Arts on 90914725.
The Edge Ensemble’s latest piece, Caliban, recently completed a season at the Coopers Malthouse in Southbank, to huge audiences and rave reviews.
Over 450 people saw the show, and it was brilliantly received by audiences and critics alike.
Here’s what the critics had to say:
– ★ ★ ★ ★ Andrea Simpson ArtsHub
“The story is fast paced, with the rhythm of a beating heart – the dialogue is layered with poetry giving extra depth to the message…”
“They say that youth is wasted on the young. In this case they were stupendously wrong… the Edge Ensemble’s youth does not mean they lack embodied experience…”
“Caliban’s themes parallel the cast’s diversity and the stories they all share… And who better to express the ongoing disaster that awaits the world than the people that have inherited it? It is this generation that have seen the world’s disasters unfold and finally they have a voice…”
– ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrepeople
“Western Edge Youth Arts have done and continue to do remarkable work but the real accolades go to the Edge Ensemble for a clever thought-evoking message.”
“an adaptation that wreaks perfect havoc on its source text, layering the urgency of climate change into its plot and characters.”
Leeor Adar Theatre Press
“Caliban tackles big ideas with humour and poignancy. This is a remarkable and highly physical performance… The performers are excellent, emotive, funny and totally humane…spirited, vibrant and painfully accurate” –
Suzanne Sando Stage Whispers
“Caliban is pertinent worthwhile theatre presented by a great group of very skilled young people who do a marvelous job of getting a multi-layered message across…”
“The mix of cultures represented in the work is heartening and satisfying. And the number of cultures represented in the audience was truly something marvelous to behold. Go Western Edge!”
And here are some comments from young people in our audience:
“I liked everything about the climate change and how it is important to always go home. There is nothing like home.”
“I loved being informed in an interesting way about stats on climate change, racism, a real awakening! I had tears & laughter & multiple goose bump moments.”
“The actors were phenomenal, especially for their age; the text was wonderfully unsimplistic and multi-faceted”
“The diversity & range of stories told – it’s rare to get that experience in the theatre these days”
Following the success of this debut season, the Edge Ensemble will be touring Caliban in May 2018. For more information and tour enquiries, contact Sally Farr on (03) 9091 4725
We’re excited to announce Phoenix Rising, the relaunch of Phoenix Youth Hub!
WHEN: Friday 24 June, 4pm to 7.30pm
WHERE: Phoenix Youth Hub, 72 Buckley Street Footscray
WHO: Anyone aged between 12-25
The Phoenix Edge will be performing on the night, to give you a taste of their new work in 2016. The workshops have been fantastic so far. There’s still time to join so check out details on the image below if you want to experiment with theatre and performance.
They’ll be appearing along with an awesome line-up of other talented artists, dancers, rappers, musicians and circus performers. Its an all star line-up of the absolute best of the West!
There’ll be a Fashion Parade by the design hub Social Studio. The Social Studio celebrates the style and skills of diverse cultures, featuring young people from across the West as both designers and models. If you have a passion for fashion they’re currently seeking models from the West, so get in touch to strut your stuff! Alongside the runway will be a street photography exhibition showcasing #Westside style.
But wait that’s not all, the event ends with a dance party! Famed local DJ MzRizk will be spinning hip hop, R n B, soul and funk tunes. It’s going to be the biggest night in June, so make sure you’re there!
Entry is free with food and drinks included. For more info and to stay connected on updates, join the event at Facebook
You may be aware of the 2015/2016 federal arts budget cuts and subsequent changes to the Australia Council for the Arts funding program that have had devastating effects on the Australian arts industry recently. As a result of these changes, Western Edge Youth Arts has been feeling the loss of the Australia Council’s Youth Arts funding of $50,000, which we received annually from 2011- 2015. To try and recoup this support we made an application for four-year organisational funding from the Australia Council for the Arts, which has been unsuccessful. While this is disappointing, we see this outcome as a result of the highly competitive nature of arts funding at present and in no way a reflection on the high quality or value of the work that we produce. However we are very pleased to announce that we have received support for the Edge Ensemble’s new work Caliban through Australia Council’s Arts Project funding.
In an effort to maintain transparency and to keep you informed on the current position of Western Edge Youth Arts, this letter addresses both the immediate and potential longer-term impacts the recent funding changes will have on our ability to deliver our programs.
The short answer is that Western Edge Youth Arts is still in a stable position to deliver all projects and programs we have planned for 2016, including work in four schools (Whittington Primary School, North Geelong Secondary College, Geelong High School and VU Secondary College), the Phoenix Edge after school workshop program, and a new after school group commencing this term at VU Secondary College. Our 2016 emerging artist program is going strong, with the Edge Ensemble presenting their new work Caliban at the Coopers Malthouse in November. The Geelong Edge will continue to develop their fantastic new work Of Belonging into an interactive piece to tour schools in regional Victoria.
We have programmed accordingly to reduce some activities and spending in areas that will have the least impact on program processes, outcomes and impacts this year. Thankfully we are still receiving fantastic support towards our organisational costs from Creative Victoria and the City of Maribyrnong, and vital individual project funding from the Department of Education and Training, Department of Justice and Regulation, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Kimberley Foundation, City of Greater Geelong, Newsboys Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund.
The Board and management are working hard to address the longer-term impacts of decreasing government support. We are confident that the legacy of the quality and importance of the work we do at Western Edge Youth Arts, combined with the continued efforts of our Board and staff in securing alternative avenues of support, will enable us to attract additional funding and revenue sources in the future.
We are taking the cuts as an opportunity to continue diversifying our income streams through more fee for service and fundraising activities, as well as more collaborative, supportive opportunities to work together with like-minded arts organisations to ignite public and philanthropic interest.
This is a timely moment to remind our supporters that if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to Western Edge Youth Arts please visit our website here. Your donation will benefit hundreds of young people who are able to access the arts for free through our programs.
If you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to talk to either Dave or Sally at any time, they’d love to talk to you.
Chair, Western Edge Youth Arts
In 2007 there were 21 federally funded youth arts companies across Australia
by 2014 there were 14
In 2016 there will be 4
In last week’s announcements of Australia Council project funding, 10 of the remaining 13 youth arts companies that were previously funded through the ‘Youth Program Fund’ have been refused funding beyond 2015. This is a devastating blow that has left many companies struggling to work out how to keep their doors open.
Sally Farr from Western Edge Youth Arts states, “This is going to destroy so much of what we’ve built over the last 4 years with Australia Council funds, particularly our emerging artists programs and after school ensembles. I can’t say specifically what the company will need to cut as this is now the big question for our organisation to deal with in the next few months.”
Enlisting the support of the wider arts community and the media, the sector has launched a campaign: #SaveYouthArts, to encourage the federal government and the Australia Council to step in and promise the assistance these small and important companies so desperately need. #SaveYouthArts is running in conjunction with the national #FreeTheArts campaign and we encourage everyone to use both hashtags.
We call on the government and the Australia Council to act immediately by:
– extending the Youth Program Fund in 2016 (as a short term transition measure).
– Working with the sector to restore 2007 levels of national investment in youth arts companies
– reinstating ArtStart program
The health and safety of Australia’s cultural future is at stake and action is needed now. Raise your voice and support #SaveYouthArts by contacting:
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
42 Florence Street
MENTONE VIC 3194
Phone: (03) 9584 8347
Phone Toll Free (Vic only): 1300 797 110
PO Box 788
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Ph: 02 9215 9000
For further information read our media release: #SaveYouthArts Release December 2015