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CASP 2020 - Interview with Wild Voices Music Theatre (Gunning)

The Country Arts and Support Program (CASP) is an annual small grants program administered by Regional Arts NSW on behalf of Create NSW, to support community arts and cultural development in regional NSW.

As we approach the opening date for CASP 2020 applications, we talk to previous CASP recipients to see how these small grants benefited their projects and communities at large.

Applications for CASP 2020 open at 12pm on Friday 24 May. Prospective applicants must get in touch with their RADO before applying.

Wild Voices Music Theatre

Please provide a brief bio for Wild Voices Music Theatre

Wild Voices Music Theatre creates and present events and activities that holistically integrate voice, body, text and music. WVMT is committed to helping build a thriving professional performing arts industry in the ACT and Southern NSW region. We are doing this by working across artforms, by collaborating with a range of professional artists and organisations, and by providing high quality holistic, practical and affordable skills-based arts training and mentorship. Central to our work is a dedication to ‘the art of voice’.

The Artistic Director of WVMT is Dianna Nixon, who is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, and has built a multidisciplinary practice over 40 years integrating her skills as pianist, singer, actor, director and producer. In 2012, Dianna was awarded a Churchill Fellowship for her work with The Developing Voice. Dianna has directed and produced more than 60 events, is an accompanist, actor and singer. She also works as voice coach – completing many theatre, music theatre, opera, choral, recording and film projects, and runs a voice & piano studio. In 2018, Dianna was awarded the CAPO Canberra Weekly Award, which will help with costs to attend a major international voice conference in London this August. Current projects include activities at The Street Theatre, National Gallery of Australia, and development of a project exploring Millicent Armstrong – playwright and farmer.

Tell us more about the project you received CASP funding for.

We are developing a unique project tailored for regional touring – “An Italian Country Afternoon”. During the CASP-funded stage of the project, we have created the ‘look’ of the project, including for marketing materials, and we are developing the production elements, composing violin parts and tailoring musical accompaniments, as well as undertaking background research and creating written materials to support and enhance the concert experience.

The performances centre on the entire set of the much-loved “26 Italian Songs”. Our goal is to create a fresh concert experience that is ideal for a country afternoon or evening performance, with scope for the local presenters to put on afternoon tea, or a glass of wine, to encourage social interaction and engagement. We will invite a young singer-in-training, from each region we visit, to sing one of the Italian songs as a solo with us. They will rehearse with Dianna Nixon (on piano) just prior to the event (or even ahead of time via Zoom teleconference).

This CASP-funded project is now due to finish by end of July. There will be a showing of the work at the Hume Conservatorium in Goulburn on Sunday 28th July at 4pm. The first of our regional performances will be at 2pm on Sept 15th 2019 at the Gunning Courtroom, hosted by the Gunning Focus Group.

We plan to tour the work all over regional NSW over time, and hope the project has a long life.

How did receiving CASP funding benefit you/your project? Were there any longer term benefits?

The funding has given us the ability to invest time in developing the concert format and style, to be ready with marketing materials that give a strong sense of the project to prospective presenters, and to inform the project with quality research and materials that will add to the experience the audience will have on the day. We are all established artists, but we really appreciate the added value we can give to this project thanks to the CASP funding. It means we can create something that we can package up for festivals, small regional presenters, and local celebrations. It means we can create something that can be viable, which means it will have a longer life, and a greater reach. It may also provide a model for other activities made on a similar scale, for a similar audience.

Any advice for future applicants?

Have a good chat to STArts when you have your brainwave about a project. If you are not incorporated, look for a highly professional arts organisation to provide auspicing for your application. Think about how you can add value to a project with this injection of support. Think about what stage of a larger project this funding might be able to support, which may mean that, over time, the larger project will have more chance of getting up.

For CASP guidelines and more infovisit our CASP page.