Inspiring the next generation of artists in regional WA

Inspiring the next generation of artists in regional WA

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Anne Sorenson, Southern Edge Arts. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

The Desperately Seeking Thommo Report, recently released by CircuitWest, highlights the well known fact that if you do not engage with arts and cultural activities as a young person, you probably will not engage with them as an adult. Those of us who work with young people have been shouting this from the rooftops for a long time.

It has been a tough gig for many of us youth arts organisations, since the government cut our funding and threw us into the funding pool with well funded ‘grown up’ arts orgs. Despite the struggle, Southern Edge Arts has continued to ensure young people are prepared and inspired to become the most innovative generation of cultural industry workers (artists) who will sustain the artistic vibrancy of regional WA.

In 2021 we delivered our second Living on the Edge – Festival of Youth Performing Arts in Albany. This festival has become the centrepiece of our artistic program and sees us present several youth led and youth devised performances, arts experiences and community events through out the month of October. This year we were again inspired by the creativity, inclusivity and performing arts skills that were demonstrated through two new works created by our circus troupe and our theatre ensemble.

Image: CircaSEA troupe members performing in Blank Canvas. Photo By Bob Symons

Blank Canvas was a contemporary circus piece that used aerial arts and acrobatics to demonstrate how young people believe that creativity and the arts brings colour to their world. The young artists created performance works that demonstrated depth, skill and a sense of humour that encouraged a practical application of skills through their performances.

He@rd was a contemporary theatre piece that used multi media and projection art to hit home the message of community members not being listened to when it comes to political and environmental issues pertinent to them. In a community where the natural landscape provides many opportunities to contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, the environmental issues in the play hit home to the audiences.

Image: Luka Bannister-Jones and Haylee Dodson in He@rd. Photo By Bob Symons

Both performances were well attended by friends and family of the participants, offering an opportunity to encourage attendance at the theatre to many of the “Thommos’ who may not have experienced contemporary art in regional WA. Parents, caregivers and family members are willing to attend performances by young people and for some, this is their first time attending a live performance outside their children’s school assembly item. This fact reminds us how youth arts reaches an audience that other theatre performances may not.

It seems that youth arts actually draws people who would not be considered regular attendees at arts events, out of the woodwork and into the theatre.

Southern Edge Arts is looking forward to another successful year of improving the wellbeing of young people through participation in the arts and contributing towards a vibrant creative community in Albany WA. We have demonstrated how we are a sustainable and resilient youth arts organisation committed to flexibility and responsiveness in our delivery of programs. Most importantly, we will continue to set the stage for young people to become future leaders in the arts and we will continue to build and develop audiences for regional arts by bringing those people who are unfamiliar with the arts, into our space to engage with performing arts by watching their young family or friends perform.

Established in 1985, Southern Edge Arts is a dynamic youth arts community based in Albany, offering a range of workshops and performances each year. Visit the Southern Edge Arts website for more information.

Southern Edge Arts is supported by Regional Arts WA, through the Regional Arts Sector Investment Program.

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