For Young Women
Hello my name is Grace and we are members of ‘The House That Dan Built’ ensemble for 2021, a cross age ensemble of girls and young women that create vocal works. The fundamental purpose of our ensemble is strengthening our capacity as performers both physically and vocally, and inhabiting a space in which we can develop artistic endeavours, create and perform. When asked to speak at the sector address we considered and discussed what is important to us as young and emerging artists, and what that means now in a COVID world. We found 5 areas of discussion kept coming into focus – opportunity, diversity, accessibility, identity, process and the artist’s relationship to the world around them.
We would have loved to sing this address, but as we all know in a COVID world, singing is bad.
The Emerging Artist’s relationship with the world around them (Grace)
As young people, our upbringing among social media, activism and fake news is unique to us. The ideas we have, and stories we tell come from our individual and shared experiences which is unlike any other generations. I have been an active aspiring artists since my first workshop with ATYP in 2013. Having the ability to inhabit a space that encourages me to act upon my experience is liberating. Having that work witnessed by peers and people I respect is exhilarating. It has allowed me to acknowledge the relationship that exists between emerging artists today and the world around us. Following the uncertainty of COVID 19 and its impact upon the arts sector as a whole, I realised the importance of young voices and energy within creative spaces and in all social discourse.
Our experiences and position within the world is unique, and influences the production and processes of our art. Such experiences demand platforms that allow for the creative development of the young artist’s ideas, in spaces that treat them seriously. Being given a space to articulate my ideas and experiences through art as a human being has been incredibly important to my identity as both a young person and more specifically as a young woman. In shifting our perception in wider society towards young people, it is possible that we will all acknowledge that there is real power here.
As a young person, it’s not always easy to navigate new or difficult emotions, and for me and many other young people I know, the performing arts provides a way to process and explore our emotions in a healthy way. The world is constantly changing and by participating in creative opportunities we have a therapeutic way to reflect on ourselves and not get lost in anxious thoughts. It is empowering to create something from nothing. I’m Sylvie O’Keefe and I have been lucky enough to have had access to classes and workshops for 8 years. Access to older artists and a network of established professionals has given me countless opportunities to create and grow as an emerging artist myself. I have also been able to learn how to teach younger and new girls just starting out. This has boosted my confidence and self esteem. I acknowledge my privilege and I would like to see all young people being given this opportunity too.
Providing opportunities for young people to engage in the performing arts is so often overlooked, which is crazy. It helps us communicate through tough times, boosts our confidence, encourages us to be considered, empathetic and articulate. My involvement with the performing arts has helped shape how I see the world. It has exposed me to different ideas, concepts and viewpoints on big issues that ask me to really consider what I think. These opportunities create pathways to explore difficult concepts and can provide a way of dealing with what COVID has presented. Us young people all need opportunities to express ourselves, advocate for what we believe in and to enhance our human connections. This can ONLY benefit the larger society! Art is like a little kaleidoscope through which we open up to the world with more colour, light and diversity.
My name is Tallulah Simpson and I have been part of The House since 2016, beginning in Toy Choir. This experience has been instrumental in the development of my own self expression which has helped me to grow as both an artist and person. Entering The House I was pleasantly surprised, not only at the kind hearted greeting but the open and non judgmental approach to the creative process and the incredibly unique places each girl went to because of this. This environment helped me to both gain the confidence to explore my identity and determine what I am passionate about, and what I had to say which had previously been frustratingly inexplicable.
For young people, finding and exploring one’s identity is an inevitable part of growing up and arts programs are so vital to this process in order for young people to not only find their voice, but incline people to listen. This is especially applicable to young girls finding their unique voice in the arts which is a contributor to why I enjoy being part of The House so much.
Speaking personally, my identity has been something that I have struggled pinning down and expressing my feelings, arts programs, have helped me be able to explore and express these feeling. Creating in The House has halted my tendency to be overly critical and enjoy what I had created. This excitement in creating something so personal has led me to harbour passions other facets of the arts such as drawing, painting and singing, opening new forms of experimentation and expression of my identity through my passions. Expressing myself through the arts and seeing others, especially young people, do the same excites and inspires me in a way nothing but creativity can.
Hello my name is Sandra. We all know accessibility in the arts is key to democratising opportunity for all people, from all backgrounds and facets of our society. We all come from somewhere and have a story to share, it is through being exposed (usually at a young age) to art and arts programs that they find their forte and are able to have their talents discovered and nurtured. Australia does not have equal opportunities for our young people. There are pockets of our society with privilege, but there are vast areas which lack the opportunity for young people to learn about the marvels and joys of the creative process. The lack of exposure to opportunities from technical ideas to artistic collaboration across demographics and regions hinders us as a society at large.
Cultivating a society of people who are empathetic and encouraging of diversity would change the face of our country. Of course in this room we are all artists, who know and live this. How do we push this truth outside of our bubble. We need to make learning about art as important as watching, listening and appreciating its elements. But more so, making learning about art accessible across the Australian demographic, and addressing the suburbs and regions that have a lack of programs and funding. Why has Youth and Emerging Arts been so overlooked in our National Funding? Greater accessibility leads to greater diversity in our rehearsal rooms and on our stages.
Diversity and inclusion requires a long term commitment plan that requires strategy and funding. It is not an easy undertaking, and there is no point dangling a one off arts experience in front of young people. Real access means having opportunities and avenues open all the time.
By investing in diversity of young people we will hear multiple perspectives and as agency growns the creation of new and diverse narratives will contribute national and cultural identity that is reflective of who we really are. Investment in young people allows for the talents of those in marginalised areas of our society to be given power through their art; the platform to communicate their human experience. We can encourage racial, ethnic, socio-economic and age diversity through structural and systemic alterations to acknowledge, include and shine a light onto those who are still silent.
The Artistic Process
Hello I am Scarlett and I am here to talk to you about “the pivot”. As my ensemble members will agree with me, it may be a new year but if we are still pivoting like it is 2020. The arts and our way of collaborating is great training for the inevitable pivots that will be happening for us – possibly forever. I used to find changing plans hard before I started performing. Now, pivoting is something that I use as motivation to explore my creativity, right now it is out of necessity, but I think it might serve me well in the future.
Although we are “pivoting” there is a security in relying on our process and a team. Pivoting is possible with a team, as there is someone to step in when you have been banished for a running nose. With a cross-age ensemble we are able to find innovative ways of using technology to create connections and share stories. Our process of getting work on floor means we are getting used to working without a net.
I now know that not everything is going to be perfect straight away, you may have to workshop things to get them where you want to be, and before getting there things may change again. Throughout COVID the arts have suffered, but we are now in 2021, and although it is not always pleasant or fun, we are finding new ways to do things everyday and this will strengthen our future.
The House That Dan Built
The House is a collaborative force that creates unique vocal experiences. We aim to activate women and girls across the world to feel empowered to speak, to feel like they belong: like they are part of an army.
Established in 2014 with 12 creatively distinct young women, The House is gaining recognition as an extraordinary multidisciplinary performance collective. Most recently the ensemble performed with Sydney Chamber Opera in Tokyo at the World Festival with the acclaimed production The Howling Girls, and in 2019 the ensemble are to be featured at the Venice Biennale in renowned Australian video artist Angelica Mesiti’s work Assembly. Working right across Australia to share stories and give songs platforms, The House travels each year to regional and remote communities to connect with rural women and girls seeing local stories for the first time in their hometowns.
The Pandemic made us realise once again that the core of what we do is creating this chorus, a sense of belonging to a unified voice.