Inside our Festival Lab
The wonderful artists from this year's Lab tell us everything
Each year a bunch of emerging artists from different disciplines come together and get stuck into the BIG ideas of the Festival. They meet industry professionals, get behind the scenes, participate in workshops, attend rehearsals and then discuss, discover and reflect on artistic practice. This is Festival Lab.
We asked our 2022 Festival Lab alumni to reflect on their experience. Here's what they had to say ...
Upon first meeting...
'I remember the first day I met the Lab gang like it was yesterday', says actor and playwright Adam Kelly (ARCO). 'It was by the river near UWA. We did an awesome session with Associate Artist Ian Wilkes, and met Artistic Director Iain Grandage.'
'Whether watching shows, attending workshops or meeting theatre insiders, I felt safe in my surrogate Festival Lab Family.'
To sum it up, 'I am very happy that I got to meet so many awesome sauce people who I would love to create stuff with that I probably would not have encountered otherwise.'
Audiences and artists to come together
'The Lab created spaces where audiences and artists could come together and engage.
'We were given the rare opportunity to be part of a facilitated space where we could ask artists questions, hear their thoughts and respond,' says theatre maker and puppeteer Sean Guastavino.
'These discussions meant we could go beyond speculating or shouting into an echo-chamber. We could be thorough, intentional and generative. We could talk about nothing except the art.'
The Power of Sharing
'I feel extremely honoured and humbled to have had the opportunity to learn more about Noongar culture throughout the Festival Lab journey,' says dancer Brent Rollins, who moved to Perth in 2017.
'It was amazing to see so many works created and performed by Noongar artists, not only sharing their stories and unique perspectives but challenging audiences with important messages.'
'We had experiences that went beyond simply watching; we began the Lab learning language with Ian Wilkes by Bilya (river), participated in a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country by Wardan (ocean), learned and performed dance at Noongar Wonderland and more.
'Being immersed in Noongar culture and art reminded me how powerful sharing can be. It has the power to connect and create change.'
Always keen to be a part of the action, Perth Festival Artistic Director Iain Grandage loved engaging the Festival Lab participants.
'Iain is an incredibly personable, intelligent and warm soul who cares deeply for artists and the bettering of our industry in Perth.' says Festival Lab participant and independent dancer Celina Hage.
'We as Lab artists were privy to an abundance of industry knowledge. Iain engaged us in honest discussions concerning the Festival and the wider Arts sector. The level of honesty, critical dialogue, and capacity to educate, listen and respond to emerging artists by Perth Festival staff was significant and meaningful.'
'As an emerging independent artist, being met with such generosity and support from industry professionals gave me great hope for the future of Australian Arts.'
Lab participant Adam Kelly experiences Ben Barretto's room in the Sunset Lounge, a Visual Arts installation at the Alex Hotel
It's okay to have a different process
'It’s one thing to see a piece and theorise how it came about. It's a whole other thing to have the artist themselves explain how it went from an idea to a full blown Perth Festival show.' says theatre maker Cezera Critti-Schnaars
'Hearing from successful, skilful artists that what works for one might not work for another reminds us that we don’t have to have it figured out now. Part of the journey is figuring out what your process is.
'As an emerging artist who is still figuring out their own process and what works for them, to have this kind of insight from those who understand their own process is incredibly valuable.'
'Art is so often synonymous with vulnerability,' says writer and filmmaker Sam Herriman. 'Each time a performer walks on stage, a painter makes their mark on a canvas or a writer puts pen to paper they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to reveal a part of themselves.
'As audiences, that vulnerability is self-evident in the work. As artists, understanding and harnessing that vulnerability is something else entirely.
'We were so privileged to hear from and talk with artistic practitioners who were generous in expressing their own processes and beliefs, during workshops, discussions and intimate chats.
'This in turn allowed us as emerging artists to engage with the work on deep emotional and practical levels while also giving us the opportunity to become more rigorous and compassionate practitioners.'
One-on-one with Festival Artists
'We each met with an artist and discussed their career, their art, their practice in a surprisingly candid and relaxed setting. How do you sustain yourself as an artist? How do you work in different places around the world? How do you create art for different environments, including in a large-scale festival?' asked visual maker William Gammel.
'All the moments throughout the Festival where we were able to talk with the artists and creatives, were definitely highlights of the Festival Lab.'
Lab participant William Gammel on a gallery tour at PICA with artist Katie West
A multitude of insight
'Getting to see how creatives are intrinsically linked to the Festival's organisational ecology was really helpful.
Artist and workshop facilitator Emilie Monty says 'As an emerging artist, I'm constantly seeking mentorship and guidance. I learnt so much from being able to hear the perspectives of the Artistic Director, the Festival producers and marketing team, as well as hearing from individual artists on their creative processes.'
'I also really enjoyed having dedicated time to present questions to creatives as a group. It offered me greater perspective.
'This will benefit my own artistic pursuits, those of my peers and the longevity of the creative arts industry."
A variety of artforms
'We were encouraged to engage with works outside of our immediate disciplines across all creative practices.
'It's been a privilege to listen to each Lab artist share their opinions and perspectives on works both within and beyond the confines of what they typically consume.' says soprano soloist, chorister and vocal teacher Lucinda Nicholls.
'The Lab allowed me to observe, appreciate, explore and process art in many (occasionally unexpected) forms and places. I’m so grateful to the wonderful artists, facilitators and mentors I had the opportunity to learn from.'
Career paths in the arts
'I never know how to respond when someone asks me about my future plans. In such a volatile industry it can be difficult to make plans for the future. Who knows if your show might be delayed because of COVID, or if you will be offered work for the same time you’ve booked a holiday' writer director and actor Sally Davies says.
'Participating in the Festival Lab has given me renewed hope and energy for the future.
'We talked to Perth artists who have maintained a career for decades and my eyes were opened to the idea that creative practice in Perth is not only viable but essential for the city’s culture. For this I'm so grateful.'
This is Connect for Arts Industry
Hear more from our Labbers, watch the Connect for Arts Industry video.
Get to know the Festival Lab 2022 participants here.
Interested in being part of the Lab next year? Applications will open closer to Festival time. Stay tuned.
We invite you to help us in providing opportunities to develop our arts industry. Find out how you can support our Festival Connect program.