GRANTED: The Ironing Maidens Melania Jack and Patty Bom performing as part of the Lismore Womens Festival 2017.
GRANTED: The Ironing Maidens Melania Jack and Patty Bom performing as part of the Lismore Womens Festival 2017. Marc Stapelberg

$90,000 for Northern NSW art projects

THREE arts projects from the Northern Rivers have been benefited from the latest round of grants by the Australia Council of the Arts.

The Australia Council for the Arts has announced the latest recipients of project and career development grants supporting a diverse range of artists and organisations.

The $6.4 million funding will support 118 individual artists, 27 groups, and 51 arts organisations.


In Northern NSW, the main beneficiary of the grants was Northern Rivers Performing Arts Inc, Norpa, with $42,000 for a theatre project.

NORPA's general manager, Patrick Healy, said the grant will be used to develop the company's next locally-produced piece, Wildskin.

"Artistic director Julian Louis has led his team of associate artists and writers in location reconnaissance in the Northern Rivers and through interviews with locals about "wild" events, places and experiences," he said.

"Julian in his creative practice proudly embeds the development of new work in the surrounding country of the Northern Rivers.

"He draws from our community's unique mix of social and historical circumstances as many in our region have already experienced seeing Railway Wonderland and Dreamland.

Mr Healy said that Wildskin will be 'a little edgier'.

"Julian (Louis) has been researching the genre of outback thrillers, road movies and horror sub-genres while experimenting with narratives that subvert the typical trajectories of female characters.

The work to-date on Wildskin has been self-funded by NORPA, so Mr Healy said the Australia Council for the Arts funding will now provide for the next stage of the creative development.

"That is, the pre-rehearsal process of further exploration of story development, the refinement of the music and dance elements and the design development for costume, lighting and staging," he said.

The funding will also contribute to funding rehearsals prior to season 2018, when Wildskin will premiere, on September 27.

"The support of Australia Council of the Arts is greatly appreciated, and for an independent theatre company like NORPA, it is an important resource to helping make it possible to develop new works from regional Australia," Mr Healy said.

Sage Music

The second Northern Rivers project was a music project by Murwillumbah's Jo Pratt, from Sage Music, with $34,520 allocated.

Ms Pratt said the grant will be used to bring seven women from First Nations from Commonwealth countries to collaborate and be part of the opening of the Women of the World event at the Brisbane Powerhouse, part of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games' cultural program.

The women invited to be part of this project will hail from Fiji, Canada, New Zealand, PNG, plus representatives from the Northern Territory and Queensland.

The Ironing Maidens

Local performance troupe The Ironing Maidens put forward a successful multi-artform project of $15,000 for a contemporary music touring program, to take one of their shows around the country.

In total, Northern Rivers projects received $91,520 in grants in the last round of applications.

Nationally, this round of grants saw strong outcomes for female artists, particularly in music, with 56 per cent of grants awarded to women or groups including women.

The council's recent research report Making Art Work found that, on average, female artists earn 25 per cent less than male artists and earn 30% less from their creative work.

Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski said that this funding round would benefit local and international audiences with a large number of live performance projects being successful.

"Many of the projects funded include international components which will expand artistic and commercial opportunities for Australian artists and strengthen our international reputation for producing great art and artists, as well as sharing Australian stories with global audiences," Mr Grybowski said.

The Australia Council received a total of 1,423 applications in the latest core grants round, spanning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, Community Arts and Cultural Development, Dance, Emerging and Experimental Arts, Literature, Multi-art form, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts.

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