Programs

Lucy Belfrage

Patron and Program Co-ordinator

Opera Scholars Australia

My passion is music. Music brings people together. I am the second youngest of 8 children and it was the vision of my lovely mum that we all have music in our lives.

I started on the piano and when I was 12 years old, mum, who died unexpectedly 18 years ago, suggested I learn the oboe. She worked very hard to make that happen and I had to work hard to value it. I learnt perseverance, discipline, achievement, belonging and so much enjoyment. I think because of my big family I have a passion for sharing. Music is easy to share! It brings our humanity to the fore, it transcends and comforts us. Although my mum is gone, I feel connected to her through music and appreciate that incredible gift that she gave to me.

As a kid, I was timid and like a soft peach in a lunchbox when it came to the wrath of a disappointed music teacher! As a consequence, I pursued a more supportive approach in how people learn and experience music. That’s why I’m such a good fit for OSA – where our philosophy is to care about the individual and create a space where young artists can learn and thrive. Singers are so individual. The way a voice can develop has never ceased to amaze me. I am constantly inspired by the perseverance our scholars reveal and then the extraordinary progress they make, and how they transform as people and as artists. Apart from it being thrilling and exciting to play a part in contributing to these journeys, it is a privilege to support young people grow and fulfil their potential – then go out into the world and share their skill and beauty and bring people together all over again.

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Robyn Gawenda

Executive Director and Co-CEO

Footscray Community Arts Centre

I am passionate about championing creativity and community engagement as key drivers of socially just and economically vibrant communities.

I am motivated to work in contexts where strategic and ethical decision making foster equitable, sustainable and accessible outcomes. I originally became involved in the arts because I love performance and visual art, and wanted to organise events to connect artists with audiences. Growing up in Perth, learning classical guitar was incredibly important to me, and this passion extended to adulthood where I became involved with live music and promotion. When I moved to Melbourne, I started to understand that the significance and impact of the arts extended beyond experiences. I realised that the arts are vital to developing connections, community pride, well-being and exploring complex political issues. Believing that the arts have the power to make change is why I do what I do. As I have progressed through my career, I have become increasingly interested in the sustainability of the arts. Deepening my understanding of how precarious arts funding is through my first-hand experience of leading an organisation through complex financial circumstances has led me to develop business acumen and knowledge. My long-term goal is to use my skills and experience to contribute to future generations enjoying accessible arts experiences that are representative, sustainable, culturally safe and vibrant.

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Penny Harpham

 

Co-CEO and Artistic Director

Western Edge Youth Arts

I do what I do because I believe art and creativity are powerful tools for social change. They create stronger communities where people feel a deep sense of belonging.

All research shows (and my gut knows) that this is the key to healthy and happy individuals and a more inclusive and equal society for the future. I am passionate and dedicated to supporting people to grow into their full potential. Whether I am directing a theatrical production and I am working with actors, designers and writers to make brave choices and reach their most ambitious and exhilarating creative heights; or when I work with a core team in the office wanting each member to use their skills in a way that makes the whole organisation hum and thrive; or when I facilitate a workshop for high school students in St Albans and encourage them to take up their rightful space. At WEYA we are actively working towards a more equitable society, where class, race, gender, ability, sexual orientation – all the intersections – are allowed to exist. I wake up excited by my day ahead, knowing that it will be full of complex situations, but that I will lean into the difficult conversations so that people from all backgrounds and abilities can be better understood. Having these conversations on a day-to-day basis with the staff, artists and communities I work with is essential to ensure I am sharing multiple perspectives when I represent the company as Executive Director.

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Cessalee Smith-Stovall

Equity and Inclusion Manager

Stage a Change and Malthouse Theatre

I do what I do because I love the theatre, and I want audiences and artists to be able to engage with the art form for centuries to come.

I have seen first hand the power of inclusion. You see someone onstage who looks like you, and then you tell your parents, so they believe you can do it, so they support your studies, so you get a great education in the arts, so you get a job onstage, so someone else can see you and be inspired too. And that’s just for the performers. If we can do that for the directors, for the designers, for the producers, we suddenly start to have a wider audience for all the work we create. And I do it because I’ve been so grateful to have a career in theatre and now it’s my time to give that same gift to someone else. I remember what it’s like to feel like I’m only as good as someone else’s biases will let me be. I have a daughter now and I hope that she never knows a limitation based on what someone else sees in her.

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Kate Sulan

Artistic Director

Rawcus

My favourite moment in the theatre is the silence after the performance has finished and before the audience applauds. In this moment of suspension, the audience shares a collective moment whether it be about holding onto the imaginative world created for them for just a bit longer or absorbing what has just taken place in from of them.

This pause between the creative offering and the response captures the magic and transformative possibility of the communal experience and says something about why I love what I do. I am seeking to create moments that connect people, that celebrate our shared humanity and that expand imaginings about what is possible. I create performance to fuel dreams, accumulate questions, embrace complexity, slow down time and invite reflection. Rawcus is an ensemble of artists with diverse minds, bodies and imaginations. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. The way we work together and negotiate 14 people’s different needs, creative processes and ways of being and communicating is a living example of what is possible when diversity is embraced and celebrated. Rawcus is a place of love and care, of risk taking and curiosity. When people intersect with the company they tell us this is contagious. I love working with groups and am curious and committed to investigating how people come together well. I love the collective wisdom of a group and how transformation can happen when people really listen to each other and pool ideas.

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Michelle Tseng

Marketing Manager

Melbourne Fringe

I fell in love with the festival sector when I started working as a marketing intern at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and found my one true love, Melbourne Fringe, when I joined the organisation in 2017.

Fringe supports independent artists from diverse and marginalised backgrounds by providing resources, removing barriers and amplifying their voices – Fringe is a platform for people to be seen and heard. I have passion for the sector, extensive communication skills and an incredibly creative mind, which makes me an amazing marketer. As the Marketing Manager at Melbourne Fringe, I get to combine my passion and skill sets to promote independent art to the wider audience in fun and creative ways. I wake up every morning feeling excited to go to work and proud of my team and the work they have done for the sector (yes, even during lockdown when we are working from home) and I want to keep feeling that way for the rest of my career. In short, I do what I do because I love it.

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