Building Pathways: WAAPA Student Kris Long’s Impactful Secondment with Goolarri Media 

Building Pathways: WAAPA Student Kris Long’s Impactful Secondment with Goolarri Media 

Regional Arts WA

WAAPA student Kristopher Long undertook a three-month industry secondment with Goolarri Media Enterprise in Broome to support the planning and development of the Kimberley Blak Pride Festival and 2024 NAIDOC Week.   

Georgia Carter, Senator Louise Pratt, and WAAPA student Kristopher Long at Kimberley Blak Pride Festival. Photo by Phil Thompson aka ‘Boy from Beyond’. Copyright Goolarri Media.

This secondment was facilitated through the Regional Arts Network (RAN) and made possible through a partnership between Regional Arts WA and Edith Cowan University’s Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). 

The partnership aims to create opportunities for young creatives to develop and sustain careers in the arts by building pathways between tertiary education and entering the workforce. 

Kris lived in Karratha as a teenager and went to Broome once for a holiday but found that this experience differed significantly from his previous trip. Rather than focusing solely on sightseeing, Kris delved deeper into the arts and cultural scene during his time in Broome. This allowed him to gain a more informed and enriched understanding of the local community. 

 As a non-Indigenous person, Kris’s decision to pursue a secondment with Goolarri Media was motivated by an interest in understanding First Nations cultures, queer identity and exploring more of regional Western Australia. As an individual with a passion for travel and a desire to learn from diverse communities, the opportunity to work in Broome was an exciting prospect. He joined the Goolarri team remotely, participating in their fortnightly online project management meetings for NAIDOC week and Kimberley Blak Pride – a festival that brings visibility to the thriving First Nations LGBTQIASB+ community in the Kimberley, to empower them, provide voices and safe spaces to celebrate and be who they want to be without stigma and prejudice, together with family, friends and allies. 

On arriving in Broome for his ten-day stay leading up to Kimberley Blak Pride, Kris was captivated by the town’s relaxed atmosphere and the strong sense of community among its residents. His initial impressions of Goolarri Media were equally positive, noting the team’s dedication and support for each other.  During their time with Goolarri Media, Kris took on various responsibilities, from sales to technical support. Despite the challenges, the experience was incredibly rewarding, offering valuable insights into the operations of a regional arts organisation. 

DJ Agapantha with WAAPA student Conway Chunner and DJs 2Lubly. Photo by Phil Thompson aka ‘Boy from Beyond’. Copyright Goolarri Media.

“As a non-Indigenous person working in a small startup festival, I anticipated my role would be very dynamic and I should support wherever needed. Working outdoors in the heat was a challenge but was manageable. Spending time with various community volunteers and Goolarri team members gave me great insight into their experience of country, community and business operations.”  

Participating in the Blak Pride event provided Kris with a deeper understanding of the complexities within regional communities. Despite hoping for greater social cohesion, Kris observed lingering divisions between non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities, highlighting the importance of events like Blak Pride in fostering unity. 

“I didn’t understand why the Blak Pride event was piloted, but I was curious to participate in it. It wasn’t until I met with the founder that I grasped the reasoning behind such an event. I was under the illusion that regional communities are more socially cohesive than the city. However, I was disappointed to find there is still a divide between non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities, even the LGBTQIA+ community.” 

Through his time working within a non-for-profit regional arts organisation, Kris couldn’t help but notice the challenges faced by Goolarri, particularly in terms of capacity. These challenges are not isolated to Goolarri alone but are common among regional arts organisations who share the goal of sustainable long-term funding.  

“Considering their team size, I was impressed with how much work and support the Goolarri Media team undertook. Their immensely supportive and nurturing culture stood out, though it was evident they could benefit from additional staff to ease the workload. Imagining myself within this organisation, I see the potential for a sustainable and fulfilling career if these challenges were addressed.”  

Adam Anna Shinique at Kimberley Blak Pride Festival. Photo by Phil Thompson aka ‘Boy from Beyond’. Copyright Goolarri Media.

Reflecting on their experience, Kris identified three key lessons: the importance of humility and active listening, the significance of community, and the necessity for flexibility and creativity. 

“When working on a project, an arts worker must be flexible, open-minded and creative. Sometimes, you work behind the desk and on the ground, doing the heavy lifting. This role is for those who truly believe in the power of the arts.” 

Overall, Kris’s journey with Goolarri Media has been transformative, offering invaluable lessons and insights that will undoubtedly shape his future professional path. Regional Arts WA’s commitment to strengthening the regional arts workforce and fostering vibrant communities, with Goolarri Media Enterprise Chief Executive Officer Jodie Bell concurs, stating:  

“The partnership with the student placement was truly mutually beneficial for both parties involved. While Goolarri, as the host organisation, provided support, resources, and hands-on experience to ensure the success of Kris’s secondment, Goolarri Media gained the invaluable contribution of an experienced Arts Management student. Having an extra set of hands with a positive attitude significantly aided in the planning and execution of our event.  

I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to host another student placement, provided expenses were covered again. We hope Kris becomes an advocate for regional arts organisations and the vibrancy and livability we bring to our diverse communities.”  

Fashion Designer and RAWA Board member Bobbi Lockyer with model Margie Dia (middle) and Fashion Designer Skye Lockyer. Bobby and Skye curated the fashion show that night. Photo by Phil Thompson aka ‘Boy from Beyond’. Copyright Goolarri Media.

Regional Arts WA invested in Goolarri Media Enterprises to support Kris to travel to Broome and get hands-on experience at the Kimberley Blak Pride Festival. RAWA is working with the Regional Arts Network organisations and ECU WAAPA to increase art jobs and career pathways for new arts and cultural graduates in regional Western Australia. 

The Regional Arts Network is proudly supported by Minderoo Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation, and with funding from the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund.

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