Introducing Alicia Leggett, Executive Director of Orana Arts24.04.2020
This month we introduce Alicia Leggett, Executive Director at Orana Arts. Alicia recently celebrated her ninth year at Orana Arts and uses her role as a way to support art success across the region.
From the nature of arts and culture in the Orana region, to navigating changes due to Covid and creating projects that stand out from masses, Alicia shares some inspiration and insight into the world of Orana Arts.
Tell us about your role at Orana Arts.
I just celebrated my 9th year as ED of Orana Arts. I guess one of the interesting things about this is that it has been my only job since my family, and I moved to Australia. Coming from years of working in the arts sector in NYC, I had a bit to learn about NSW & regional arts. My first few years I observed, focused on gaps and got a handle on funding bodies and trends.
I see my position as a voice for the many who choose to live in regional NSW and that this choice shouldn’t be a hindrance for participating in the arts. My role is to provide opportunity for success and to be the support agency for that success.
Can you describe the arts and culture scene in your region and how it may vary across each location?
We have an active region easily accessible with diverse experiences. One can visit Mudgee with amble stopovers to cellar doors and new regional gallery in the horizon. Once in this region you can visit the many small towns that host several unique festivals, such as Clay Gulgong a biennial event for national and international ceramic artists and Cementa , the biennial contemporary arts festival. Within these lovely towns there are wonderful and intriguing volunteer run museums. Dubbo is home to the Western Plains Cultural Centre which never fails to host some of Australia’s sought after exhibitions. The WPCC is the arts and culture connector for the region. There is also plenty of music, with active groups of songwriters and musicians that are pushing the boundaries and delivery live music experience for audiences, as well as providing a platform for emerging musicians. The region has a plethora of visual artists, crafter, potters and multiple creative groups like film makers, theatre companies and arts councils that are the backbone to many of the creative arts & culture events that make this region a lovely place to live. Without them existing out here would be quite boring.
Times are extremely uncertain and unchartered at the moment, with Covid-19 impacting individuals, organisations and industries all over the world. How are artists and organisations in the Orana Arts region adapting to the ever-changing circumstances?
We have seen the mad rush to get online. Many leading arts organisation and artists have moved to online platforms, but I am proceeding with caution. The internet is getting flooded by online content and if it is not done well and with purpose, it will be lost. It has been interesting to watch what is being delivered online and two exciting initiatives that I encourage people to follow are; SOMAD’s “Lust for Livestreaming” and Kim V Goldsmith’s Arte Parties. SOMAD’s live music streaming can be found here. I commend them for adding a PayPal account to their streaming to encourage people to donate and support musicians. This is definitely one of those topics that needs to be in the forefront of these online events.
The next project is called Arte Parties, a clever and ambitious online festival organised and curated by digital media artists Kim V. Goldsmith.. It is just about to launch, and I’m very excited to see how it all comes together! It launches on the 30th April and it is a week-long curated program of music, literature, visual arts, digital arts events from Australia and various international locations. Anyone can access the event and I strongly recommend many to follow it via @arteparties on Facebook & Instagram. The event itself starts on the 30th May and will run until 6th June.
Amidst challenging times, how do you think arts and creativity can provide people with support and inspiration?
This period of isolation has really demonstrated how reliant we are on entertainment and social connection. We have all gravitated to some form of creativity to keep ourselves sane. I dusted off my keyboard, attacked the pile of books on my bedside table and like many, binge watched a few Netflix series. But I have been missing the physical connection to people. We’ve seen the innovative ways people are trying to connect with others online, from choreography and filming yourself taking out your bin, to catching Phantom of the Opera from the Royal Albert Hall. It has been a natural response to consume and create on these online platforms. The arts keep us connected; it provides stimulation in these crazy times. I’ll also encourage everyone to be ready to be physically present for our arts when we do open again and remind everyone that without the arts we wouldn’t have survived isolation.
Despite cancellations and the postponing of programs and events, what are some of the key highlights/events/projects that Orana Arts are working on and looking forward to at the moment?
We have been busy developing our new website and case studies from our previous projects. This indoor period has also provided the time to investigate our relevance for online content and how to deliver it. We are currently putting our micro funding event Soup Sessions online. Normally we hold these during the winter months with a bowl of soup at a local pub or café. It’s a fun night for networking that allows audiences to hear about the many creative ideas’ brewing in their community. The winning pitch can easily take up to $700 home on the night. Our online version is asking for creative pitches via 2min videos with our Facebook audience voting. We are putting in $500 for 4 events spread out in the coming months with an opportunity for our audience to add to these funds. It will be interesting to see how this online event works out for us.