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What happens when eight, elite arts organisations spend a weekend together? The 2019 ARTS8 Collaboration - Belonging

Every year, eight national elite performing arts training organisations come together to collaborate, learn and grow as part of a cross-disciplinary weekend. Funded by the Australian Government, these organisations comprise ARTS8: the Australian Roundtable for Arts Training Excellence.

This collaborative project is a wonderful opportunity for NICA students to both share and step outside of their art form, whilst working with students from The Australian Ballet School; Australian National Academy of Music; Australian Youth Orchestra; Flying Fruit Fly Circus; NAISDA Dance College; Australian Film, Television and Radio School; and the National Institute of Dramatic Arts. This embodied learning not only challenges but further enriches their approach to circus.

This year the event was hosted by the Flying Fruit Fly Circus in Albury on 4 and 5 June, and centred around the theme of ‘belonging.’ Second Year NICA students, Manalaya Kaydos-Nitis and Antonia Sassine took part, along with Head of Performance Studies, Zebastian Hunter.

For students, the collaboration fosters critical and flexible thinking, leadership and teamwork, qualities that will serve them well as they branch off into their individual careers. Zebastian Hunter, Head of Performance Studies at NICA, believes it can also have a powerful effect on the trajectory of those careers.  

“It’s not just learning about how to be cross-disciplinary in your practice,” said Hunter.

“It’s also the process, the presentation and the human connections made that will all leave an impression on the students for the rest of their lives.”

An example of one such career trajectory was demonstrated this year with a 2018 NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) participant Jessie Byrne returning for another year as a production intern.

“We were particularly excited to have Jessie on board for this project again for another year as a stage manager,” said Rose Stephens, NICA’s Executive Director.  

“Through these ARTS8 collaborations, she's changed her career direction from theatre to circus stage management. NICA looks forward to actively supporting her in her endeavour.”

Teachers also benefit from the exchange by sharing ideas around teaching practices, assessment strategies, curriculum design, creativity, innovation and artists’ wellbeing. The aim: to encourage more collaboration between ARTS8 organisations.

“Just as in past years, the meetings between the staff have led to some exciting co-productions and training based projects,” said Hunter.  

“This weekend is no exception with some exciting news upcoming for future years.”

At the end of the weekend, the group presented an in-house presentation – the culmination of their learning and exploration as a collective. NICA Executive Director Rose Stephens was thrilled with the outcomes again this year.

“The final performance was an intimate exploration of this quite challenging theme, with beautifully improvised live music, an audience inclusive element (which so suited the theme of ‘belonging’), students embracing other art forms and a clear and demonstrable commitment by all to the work,” said Stephens.

“I am delighted that this initiative has grown wings and the evidence suggests that these connections are career-changing. Next year will be the fifth year of this collaboration and we hope to invite more past participants to answer the question ‘how did this experience affect your career?’”

NICA is a proud member of the ARTS8 and we look forward to many more collaborations in the future.

Photos courtesy of NIDA

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Article added 10 May 2019

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