With alumni calling the program intense but ultimately life-changing, the artists taking part in this year's program are about to up level their experience within their chosen creative field.
Six outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts professionals have been announced tonight at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne Museum) as the 2016 participants of British Council and Australia Council for the Arts’ annual leadership skills development programme, Accelerate.
The participants will undergo three days of tailored leadership programs in Australia and then each will also travel to the United Kingdom for three weeks in November for professional placements and mentoring to develop their chosen creative vocation.
The program is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia who have at least five years’ experience in the creative industries and can demonstrate a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community.
This year, the selection panel has identified six mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries.
JILDA ANDREWS – ACT – CURATOR AND SINGER
Jilda Andrews has been busy working in Programs and Engagement at the National Museum of Australia as well as undertaking PhD research with the Australian National University. A proud advocate of the Yuwaalaraay community in north-western NSW, her current work focuses on improving access to museums for non-traditional audiences and looking for alternative ways to connect the collected objects with their country and people.
"I am really excited," she told NITV. "I really like the unknown factor in the program, by focusing on leadership more broadly I hope it will allow me to find my own stride".
Jilda has also performed with the singing groups Freshwater and Biliirr which has given her the opportunity to bring together her research, her connections to country, her Yuwaalaraay language and family through song.
“I’m really keen on looking at the way that traditional languages can assist in conveying messages to an audience. Our languages have already given me a firm basis but looking further abroad, at places like the Scottish Storytelling Centre, will help me to examine that idea further.”
She said that the interdisciplinary nature of the arts really lent itself to the group environment and she is looking forward to engage with the other participants at the workshops.
JONATHON SAUNDERS – NT – VISUAL ARTS AND SCREEN
Jonathon Saunders is a Darwin based Indigenous illustrator and arts worker with the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA) where he undertakes both lead and support roles assisting Indigenous art centres and arts workers across Northern Australia.
Jonathon publishes a web comic ‘Astounding Tales of Hero Fiction’ which focuses strongly on comic book and superhero imagery and re-contextualizing those images within an urban Australian setting. He recently returned from Sydney from an internship at Fox Studio Australia working on Ridley Scott's ‘Alien Covenant’ in the Art Department and is hoping to make the jump to working in the screen industry
TRAVIS DE VRIES - NSW – ARTS MANAGEMENT AND WRITER
Travis is a Creative Artist and Arts Professional who works across the Indigenous, Contemporary Music and Creative Learning Programs at Sydney Opera House. He also runs Travis De Vries Art, the creative platform for his new wave Indigenous art works and writing projects.
"Looking at other creative artists and arts workers who have been through the program it is really ground breaking in the way it gives a platform for aspiring First Nations arts leaders develop their skills and engage with a global community," he told NITV.
"I feel that this is super important for First Nations artists to be a part of as we'll be the ones telling the stories of Australia and shaping culture for the future so it's important that we have a full understanding of what that means on a global level."
Prior to the Sydney Opera House, Travis was a Dancer for Bangarra Dance Theatre, collaborating in the choreographic process with Stephen Page, Francis Rings and Elma Kris. Over Travis’ career he has worked across Australia on key Indigenous and Contemporary Music Festivals; Vivid Live, Homeground, GRAPHIC, The Dreaming Festival and The Big Day Out. Travis has also worked on the ground through dance, art and music in numerous Indigenous Communities collaborating on projects to bring more young Aboriginal people to work in the arts.
FRANCOISE LANE – QLD - DESIGN
Francoise Lane is a Torres Strait Islander woman whose maternal family are from Hammond Island. After several years working as a freelance commercial and residential designer and consultant in Alice Springs and Cairns she and her husband Andrew founded Indij Design, a 100% indigenous owned architectural and interior design practice in 2011.
Based in Gordonvale in Far North Queensland, Indij Design provides architectural, interior design and community engagement services for built environment projects in regional, rural and remote communities, with a focus on encouraging clients to take fresh look at their project needs. In recent years Francoise has also developed textile designs and surface patterns adapted to repeats called Indij Prints.
KAMARRA BELL WYKES – VIC – ARTS MANAGEMENT AND PERFORMING ARTS
Kamarra Bell-Wykes is a Yagera and Butchulla woman from South-East Queensland. She started her career as a performer and playwright over 15 years ago, and received the prestigious Greenroom Gerda Nicholson Emerging Actress Award in 2003 for her role of Ann in Stolen. Kamarra has written a number of award winning health-education shows including Chopped Liver, Body Armor and North West of Nowhere, commissioned specifically to educate around issues as such as intravenous drug use, body modification and Hepatitis C.
In 2012 Kamarra graduated from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education with her Bachelor of Teaching and Learning and was awarded an honor in Recognising and Responding to Diversity in the Classroom. She then worked as a teacher and youth worker in a number of communities in the Northern Territory before returning to ILBIJERRI Theatre Company as Education and Learning Manager where she has been working to build the MARGUK program. Kamarra is now moving into dramaturgy with her first placement on Melodie Reynolds Skylab, supported by Playwriting Australia.
GLENN ISEGER-PILKINGTON – WA – MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES CURATION
Glenn Iseger is a Wadjarri, Nhanda and Nyoongar man who spent the first half of his life living in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and has since 1994 lived on Nyoongar Country in the South West corner of Western Australia. Glenn studied at School of Contemporary Art, Edith Cowan University, majoring in Printmaking and has worked within the visual arts and museum sectors over the last decade as an arts development officer, curator, advisor and advocate for Indigenous Australian art and culture.
Having worked in the arts and in museums Glen is open to working with an organisation in the United Kingdom that is “dealing with stories in new ways”.
“The thing that I am really excited about for the program is the opportunity to remove myself from the known environment in Australia. I want to look at the way that Britain sees its own minority peoples and alternative histories, how they enable voices and truly represent people’s worlds so that they can walk into a museum and see themselves not just as an exhibition but as a part of that space.”
Glenn is also an author and is passionate about writing on subject matters which include contemporary Indigenous art, identity, colonisation, history and lived experience. Glenn is working on developing content for the new Western Australian museum, set to open in 2020.