It’s Jamie here. It’s mid-December and the pressure valves are hissing. I for one am ready to make that cuppa.
This year we embarked on a journey of evolving who Next Wave is, and what we do. With change, we welcomed the uncertainty and known unknowns –– but as artists, we recognise this as being ever present every time we make new work.
In 2022 Next Wave waded through its fair share of swells, and we lapped them up. Here are my highlights and reflections on the year that was.
We came full circle, returning to our focus and connection to young people
In its original constitution (1984), Next Wave named young people as its main reason for existence. This year, with support from VicHealth, we returned to our roots to facilitate opportunities with/for/by young people. We welcomed Associate Producer Communications and Engagement, Nickila, and Producers in Residence, Tarryn, Leigh and MaggZ to lead this work co-designing with creative communities. We gathered together over food and ideas through a series of Radical Hospitality: Platforming Community events – giving us a taste of what’s to come in 2023. What I have loved the most – is how these co-designing processes are influencing the rest of the organisation. We are reenergised by the leadership that is coming from these young people.
The magical Doraemon pocket –– Our Artistic Directorate
Last year we unveiled our experiment in cultural leadership in the Artistic Directorate, dotting eight artists across the continent to lead, inform and curate. Their insight, wisdom, rigour and friendship – is like a magical Doraemon pocket.
They developed key mechanisms including Curation as Care. There are learnings of course, and so much room to tweak and shape and structure; I am looking forward to what each cohort will bring to future iterations, and the multitude of possibilities in the horizon.
Intergenerational and artist-led learning –– All School
“Professional Development” has always been at the heart of the Next Wave experience – especially through the legacy of Kickstart. All School allows us to extend the platform for artist-led learning and exchange to a wider community beyond our commissioned artists. And whilst we have put some things out there – like our inaugural 2-day lab, we are committed to the ongoing design of the program with our artistic community. (Cue: learnings from highlight #1) We want to hear from Next Wave’s alumni – and we welcome artists and practitioners who approach work from radical and non-conventional frameworks; the Next Wave community is intergenerational, and it is a real honour to be writing a part of its history.
You know the saying “how do you eat an elephant?” We consider the challenges that we faced this year and the ones we will wrestle with in the new year:
The Artistic Directorate and Kickstart programs engage and commission artists where they live, and work allows us to ensure that our opportunities are spread across this continent. I am eager for some of that work to take root, so that Next Wave might find its home in multiple places in a more meaningful way, so that we may better support artists in practices that are grounded in place and their communities.
Leadership/Arts Management/Producing as practice
The privilege to dive into the worlds of artists and their creative processes is invigorating. For Next Wave and the team to have robust administrative systems and malleable programming structures that give everyone breathing space in our current times – we must constantly review and refine our processes, assess and expand our skill and capacity, unlearn and learn. And for all the spanners thrown our way in 2022 and all the changes we are undertaking, it is the mundane everyday basics that we must get right!
“…where I can be my full self.”
– I learnt this phrase from artist and disability advocate Kate Hood. We attempt to cultivate an environment in which we – staff and artists and community – can participate as our full selves at Next Wave. It is a relentless wrestle between the relational and the structural. For the systems, skills and structures (whilst they have their own challenges – see above) – there are methods, templates and processes to lean on. In the relational – it is changing, contextual and responsive; no two days are the same. And no two persons are the same. As a performance artist, I find symmetry in this everyday liveness. But this is the hardest part of my job. Justice, Friendship and Care are not just words on the page, but an everyday (attempted) enactment from everyone involved in the organisation. And it is hard. It also happens to be the richest part of my job.
And so, we keep learning. We continue traversing through this archipelago – between the known and the unknown; between places, communities, knowledge, power and cultures – sharing in the act of art making and culture building.
Come walk with us in 2023 and beyond.
Until then, stay safe and see you soon.