Brave and Boundless

I sat next to a stranger and asked about the earlier sessions I’d missed. “Challenging” came the response. When I prodded a little she said something like “white people were talked about a lot” and made a sweeping circular gesture that framed her face – fair-skinned, light-haired. Her discomfort was evident. I asked if she was a writer. She is. We got distracted by having to move seats, then the panel started. Later I wished we’d had the chance to continue that conversation.

Boundless: a festival of diverse writers, was the first-ever festival of its kind – with a focus on Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) writers. Co-presented by NSW Writer’s Centre and Bankstown Arts Centre and put together with a bunch of collaborators (scroll to bottom of this page to see them), it saw several panel discussions, workshops for aspiring young writers, a multi-media exhibition of poetry by local students, and readings of some works in progress by emerging writers, drawing to a close with the monthly Bankstown Poetry Slam event moved to co-incide with the festival.

I only made it for the second half of the day but did get to see two great panels. The first, ‘Who’s writing who on stage’, was convened by Sheila Pham with Andrea James, Disapol Sevatsila and Aanisa Vylet on the panel. The second, ‘All in the family’, convened by Jennifer Wong and featuring Cathy Craigie, Mireille Juchau, Benjamin Law and Omar Sakr. (Read all their bios and those of the other writers featured here). Across the two panels there were quite a few moments that grabbed me but a couple of themes that really stood out for me.  Continue reading

Going Beyond Tick Boxes

There’s a renewed energy to work towards fairer representation of culturally diverse artists in the creative sector. Maybe this is a reflection of a broader awareness around issues of diversity more generally in the collective conscious. Or maybe it’s a scramble for new voices, new content and new audiences. Or both.

Whatever the reasons behind the momentum right now, there was hope in the air at the recent Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) ‘Beyond Tick Boxes’ Symposium on Cultural Diversity in the Creative Sector in Sydney. The gathering saw over 140 creative practitioners, arts workers and industry representatives come together to take the pulse of the sector. The conversations felt circular at times, but the messages and perspectives, very current.

I was invited to attend as a citizen journalist and to write up my thoughts of the day. You can read the full article in Loudmouth magazine here or on the DARTS website here.

Image courtesy of DARTS and photographer Chris Woe

CAAP Longhouse #1 @ Carriageworks

Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) hosted their first Longhouse event for the year at Carriageworks on Thursday April 20th, using as a starting point for discussion the brilliant article in Arts Hub recently by Tania Canas, Diversity is a White Word.

The panel was comprised of Tim Roseman, Artistic Director of Playwriting Australia (PWA); Lena Nahlous, Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) and Kate Cherry, Director/CEO at NIDA; all chosen for their experience in working with artists identifying (or identified) as ethnically/linguistically/culturally diverse (CALD) and for their work in advocating for better representation of these artists in the arts and cultural industries.

I went along to hear Lena, especially, as I’ve been following her work through DARTS since it the organisation was re-imagined from it’s previous iteration as Kultour. It was also a really nice opportunity to catch up with friends in the crowd afterwards. With only about 90 mins at their disposal, it was too short a time for the panel to detail in any depth the work they are currently doing in this space but it was just enough time for the audience to capture the essence of their positions on how best to address the imbalance in representation and to hear some examples of their activities.

Here’s the summary: Continue reading