And that’s a wrap! And what a great week it was 🙂 Thanks to everyone involved and to everyone who came to a show or supported BRINK Festival
Even though the performances have ended, the conversations and questions continue. How can we divest the Arts in WA from fossil fuel sponsorship and transition to more ethical and sustainable support? What is the role of arts and cultural workers in this? The role of government; of the audience; and of the corporations who profit from being in WA?
It’s a complex conversation that involves ethics, economics, social justice and accountability. I’ve had a crack as trying to scope this in a recent opinion piece I wrote for ArtsHub
There’s a lot more to be said, and I hope many more people will contribute their thoughts, ideas, hopes and inspiration to help us solve this.
We’ve been planning this since September last year and soon it will be a reality (COVID allowing – fingers-crossed). I was recently asked how I felt about the Festival. As a creative person, I see my task in life as making ideas into tangible events or objects. A story becomes the printed word, or a play; a deep emotional dive becomes a poem; I sometimes even try to re-vision the world through photos and painting.
Bringing together a festival feels different. It’s a collaboration with artists across many artforms to support their visions, their creativity. In some ways this is harder than creating myself, as I feel we must do everything we can to help them realise their shows.
But the best part of BRINK is that we know each and every one of the artists involved supports our vision: one where we imagine a future where the arts are funded ethically, one that respects and supports diverse communities and cultures, that puts the artist at the centre.
Now more than ever, BRINK is needed. Artists often have little to no choice about working for organisations funded by fossil fuel profits. To reject this as a source of income takes immense moral courage with the possible outcome of having to abandon the profession altogether.
BRINK can’t possibly provide all WA artists with the chance to perform. We can’t solve the problem, but we can attempt to highlight the issue and join in the conversation. Because we are not alone in thinking the arts are compromised. For many years, artists around the world have been questioning the corporate capture of the Arts by fossil fuel giants through sponsorship. If you think about it, it’s hard to say no to such a windfall when government support is so paltry. Compared to the billions of dollars in subsidies the fossil fuel giants receive from taxpayers for their multi-billion-dollar enterprises, the arts receive mere crumbs.
When you consider that the arts employ vastly more people than the fossil fuel industry, it begs the question ‘Why are our priorities for sharing the public purse so skewed?’
COVID shone a light on the essential nature of artistic and creative work through film, TV shows, books, music and left many longing for the shared experience of theatre, opera, dance and live music. And when it was revealed that thousands of artists had been left out of COVID relief funding, it showed how precarious our profession is.
Now, it could be argued that the sponsorship is what is enabling so many to be involved in the arts. Yes, of course, any money will increase the production and the reception of the arts. But we must think about where this extra money comes from and how it aligns with our values.
To support our fossil fuel free festival please DONATE to BRINK through the Australian Cultural Fund
My first creative non-fiction piece was published online last year in the Centre for Stories ‘Journal’. I don’t usually write so directly about myself and my life experiences, preferring to universalise them, or at least, attempt to! However, 2020 was a difficult year for me personally. It began with the rapid decline of my mother’s health and her passing, the funeral and the house clearing, sibling tensions exacerbated by grief, and then the pandemic…
As with any death, a reckoning always follows; a processing of what life is now that this person is no longer there. I wrote my piece too soon to answer all the questions that are still sitting quietly at the back of my mind; too soon to answer the big questions that have challenged philosophers forever. I will most likely never really understand the question, let alone the answer. As I continue to try to process how life has changed for me, some insights will find their way into my other writing, the poems, prose and plays that I can’t help but keep creating.
This piece is a small glimpse into this time in my life. Please take from it what you will, but I hope you enjoy the read.
I wrote this play as a cry for action! As an antidote to the inaction caused by despair… It’s now available on Australian Plays. I hope you like it. Here’s a brief outline of the play –
Climate change and extreme weather are the new reality in our lives. 3 women, a Former Astronaut, a Birdwatcher, and a Migrant, are each bruised by their lives. Over dinner, the great cycles of the world are revealed: ocean circulations, migratory birds and people. Through monologues, vignettes and the female gaze, current and future challenges are revealed. But in the end, there’s hope. There must be hope.
Watch out for updates on productions 🙂
And keep hoping – because hope demands action, as I wrote in the following song lyrics:
ARE YOU LOOKING?
Are you looking, are you listening
Are you frightened by what you see?
We have pleaded, we are needed
We must succeed and be fossil free.
Are you acting in time and in the way the planet needs?
Are you hoping your child will not suffer from their greed?
But hope demands action and action brings hope
So rise up with your action your body and your voice.
If you work in science you get used to acronyms. If you don’t they can be tough.
The acronym in the title – ICRAR – stands for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research which was founded in September 2009. It played an integral role in the development of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA – another acronym!), the world’s largest radio telescope and an amazingly huge scientific endeavour.
This internationally renowned, multi-disciplinary research centre for science, engineering and data intensive astronomy also loves telling everyone about their work and the wonders of the universe. One way they decided to do this was to host a monologue competition as part of National Science Week 2020.
I was honoured to be one of the judges and also to read the winning entry for the Best monologue based on an ICRAR researcher: Black Holes and Coffee written by Nigel Luck.
You know I love to mix science into writing and performance – it was the topic of my PhD – so this competition was a perfect fit for me.
Thanks to Claire at Claire Bowen Management for inviting me to be part of this, who along with Kevin Vinsen, devised the idea for the competition.
And thanks to ICRAR for the great work you do and for letting us have such fun with science! Next time I look up at the night sky, I’ll have so much more to contemplate 🙂
So you can receive a taste of the great work published in Letters to Our Home, download the free PDF – available here
To date we’ve raised over $800 for the Environmental Defender’s Office and the WA Forest Alliance through this project. Please help us support these amazing organisations by purchasing a copy of Letters to Our Home
Letters to Our Home was conceived during the Australian bushfire crisis during the summer of 2019/2020. It was inspired by the northern hemisphere publication, Letters to the Earth, and like that publication we hope creative responses to the growing climate, biodiversity and environmental crises will help us come to terms with the situation we collectively face, nurture our spirits and inspire us to take, and to demand, action.
The contributors to this collection vary from school-age children to parents, workers and retired people, published poets and newcomers. They write from their hearts and are inspired by their passion to see art as a selfless act of giving, and as activism.
Thanks to Bush Retreat for Eco-writers (BREW) I’ve recently enjoyed a wonderful 10-day writing retreat at their Blue Bucket property, staying in the the Silver Bucket cabin.
Such an amazing and creative experience, resulting in not only nearly 30-thousand words, but also wonderful memories, invaluable inspiration and a meditative immersion in the natural world.
My report (although that sounds too official, perhaps reflection is better) can be found on the BREW website here:
I’ll carry this experience with me for a long time, and I know it has had a profound impact on my writing and on me personally.
Thank you, Barbara Holloway, my host, and the BREW Network!
Over the years I’ve had a few false starts in attempting to write a longer prose work. But looking back, they were important steps that have helped me complete this one.
Its current title is ‘Staring at the Sun’ and I’m not sure how it fits into the genre-driven market place. Perhaps near-future science fiction? With some romance and a little bit of a thriller element to it…?
Anyway, it needs to be published, and finding a publisher could take as long as it took me to write the thing! But, on reflection, the act of writing was such fun! It was hard, too, (don’t misunderstand me) but the pleasure of shaping the unfolding story, and the privilege of sharing in the lives of these completely made-up characters, was great.
And if you are intrigued, here’s a short outline:
Cell biologist, Dr Daniel Fredericks, is driven by his ambition to work in the exceptional facilities provided by the commercial pharmaceutical company, Artemis Global. Plus he receives a substantial salary and bonuses. His research is associated with realising the physical immortality of Tanya, a brain-dead cadaver, kept functioning through nanotechnology.
His mother, Brigid, is a scholarly expert on the epic of the Assyrian king, Gilgamesh, and this ancient story highlights the futility of Daniel’s quest.
Sandy, a laboratory technician at Artemis Industries, becomes curious about Tanya after she learns about the drug addict, Raf, who wants to know what has happened to his girlfriend. Daniel starts dating Sandy, and her concern for Tanya, coupled with his mother’s questioning of his work, prompt him to examine more deeply his own motives and ethics.
When Daniel discovers how Tanya’s body was procured, this further complicates the dilemmas around his research. Does he have the moral courage to do the right thing?