Shopfront Arts Co-Op are opening applications for their flagship Emerging Artists Residency – ARTSLAB. Their Young Leader and ArtsLab Alumni, Lily Hayman writes about the program and how it has shaped her career.
There is something about being a young artist that is at times simply terrifying. It feels like every job could be your last, every choice has a lifetime worth of consequences riding on it, every new work has to be better than the one before. There isn’t all that much room to take big risks or fail gloriously.
I once asked Nat Rose (Shopfront’s Creative Director) why ArtsLab is so important to her, and she told me that she recognised that lack of wiggle room for young artists today. She also recognised that when she was starting out, she failed constantly and credits those terrible failures as more important to her career in the long-term than any of the shows she managed to get right. So now she runs ArtsLab, taking young artists under her wing and encouraging them to take risks while also giving them all the tools they will need to keep going even if they do stumble along the way. Ask anyone whose been through the process, we will tell you it is her encouragement and guidance that is the key to the program constantly being such a success.
When we start out, there are so many places to go to learn how to be “an artist”. Theatre school, art classes, university, film makers clubs. Lots of people make careers in teaching other people how to put art together. There are very few people with the time and energy willing to teach young people the skills they need outside of the studio. It wasn’t until I was accepted into ArtsLab that I learnt what it takes to have a career in the arts. Something that lasts longer than just your next project. Over the course of my 6 months as an ArtsLab resident I picked up things no one else had even mentioned to me before then. Yes, sure, I made a show with my collaborator Thomas Doyle, but the impact ArtsLab had on me and my career went far far beyond the scope of that work. Most notably we were given a mentor, the wonderful Kate Gaul, who I still call upon for advice about anything and everything. And we were told those simple things that are so obvious once you know them, and therefore the first things to be forgotten when you’re trying to show someone the ropes. Not the artistic stuff, the life admin stuff. Answering your damn emails, filling in grants, the constant APRA requests! That’s what ArtsLab is about. Helping artists not only create bold new works, but also teaching them what it takes to have a sustainable career in the arts.
Since finishing up my time as a resident and joining the staff team at Shopfront I’ve seen many more artists go through the process, artists I know will change the face of our industry in their time. I’ve met friends and peers who inspire me daily, watched countless new works grow from the seed of an idea into fully fledged works of art. More inspiring than that though, I have watched Young People grow into their own voices. When given the tools to succeed, I have watched them thrive and take on new and exciting challenges. ArtsLab is one of my favourite parts of my job hands down, and I cannot wait to see what this year’s residents will do.
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