Reflections on the year that was, from Artistic Director Emily Sexton.
It’s been a big year for deep thinking. Also for carbs.
But for me, and for the Arts House team, this year has been especially characterised by big questions.
Time stretches in weird ways and I know many of you feel the same as me: that we spent the entirety of 2021 in lockdown.
Oddly, that wasn’t actually the case. We did present some extraordinary artists this year and we did see our community here in North Melbourne and beyond.
Nonetheless, some of my most meaningful and rewarding moments were absolutely spent in strategy, co-designing with artists and cultural leaders some important shifts in how Arts House works. We created our Disability and Inclusion Action Plan, we devised new opportunities, and we changed how those curatorial processes are explained and decided upon. And I’m happy to share news that in the new year we’ll have a couple more opportunities available to get involved in our thinking and doing.
But given all that time looking inwards, I’ve been so immensely happy – and relieved – to have been able to spend the last month or so looking out.
Seeing live performance and art again over those recent weeks, I have finally been able to let my mind expand and melt into artists’ interpretations and observations of the time we’ve been through. And the questions they ask are the kind that I most want to hear an artist’s perspective on: what are individuals and communities to each other? What is it to be lonely or in pain? What kind of country with what kind of history is able to lock itself up? What does a backdrop of great threat do to conversation?
These considered gestures represent, to me, the invitation from one human to another to be curious. It is a deep relief to get beyond my own thoughts and that of my immediate group. They’re great people and they got me through, but it is a much broader, richer world that sustains us.
My observation of the artists who have been rehearsing and performing at Arts House over the last couple of months is that they’ve never been so ready, nor so generous. We’ve had artists time-share the Main Hall so they can squeeze as much rehearsal in as possible; we’ve had performers step into fellow ensemble member’s roles when they’re unable to go on; we’ve had audience members battle through three hours of hail to see a five minute show.
I wish all of us the ability to stay in this curious, open place for as much time as possible in 2022. It’s healthy. And our artists’ works in 2022 are so joyous, and connective, and wise. We all need this and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Artistic Director, Arts House