Lismore NSW based NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts) has not only secured $1,295,000 in March last year from an Australia Council for the Arts four year funding grant, they have attracted a new Executive Producer all the way from across the Nullabor. Jenna Mathie will be leaving the Perth Festival where she worked as a producer to join NORPA in what she describes as exciting times for the company. Blank asked Jenna why she’s making such a big move and what’s in stall for NORPA in 2021.
“I thought this is an excellent opportunity to go and meet with a new community and help make work that speaks to a particular region.
“For me, especially coming from Perth which is a bit smaller than Sydney and Melbourne, I can really see the impact that arts and culture has everyday on communities and I’m excited to be able to see that in Lismore and the greater Northern Rivers area as well”, says Jenna.
Jenna saw the impact of arts not only on communities but individuals when she worked at EPIC arts, a Christian inclusive arts organisation that works with people with disabilities in Cambodia.
“It was life changing for those people and for their families and communities to see people with and without disabilities to see their stories being championed and shared. It reinforced to me the impact that art can have on the individual and the community. You saw young people growing and growing in confidence.”
A youth theatre outreach program will be a focus for NORPA in the coming years and they have just advertised for a Youth Theatre Director.
“We’re growing the scope of what we’re doing with young people in the Northern Rivers,” says Jenna. “Julian (Julian Louis, Artistic Director/CEO) is starting that with some workshops with young people in a few weeks.”
A particular element of Perth Festival’s CONNECT program Jenna would like to see at NORPA is the focus on outcomes.
“The CONNECT program was quite unique in that most of it is an outcome focus. In the arts there’s so much pressure on creating the work or doing the development or ending up with some sort of product.
“CONNECT is about immersion and knowledge sharing. From that we have seen great outcomes, but it takes the pressure off. I’m really interested to explore this idea further with Julian and the team.”
NORPA programs this year will include one for high school students and the touring program with works from around the country. There will also be a focus on seeding original NORPA works and there will be two artist residencies offering $15,000 each with the support of Create NSW.
IMAGE (C) Cam Campbell