More creative opportunities and events which smash conventions

1-Nazanin - exploring identity through calligraphy and ink drawingAdding to last week’s post about opportunities, here’s another valuable offering from Blacktown Arts Centre. With funding from Blacktown Council and the NSW Government, the centre is offering six Creative Residencies in 2017 in the following categories –

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Residency $5000
  • Pat Parker Memorial Residency $5000
  • Performing Arts Residency $5000
  • Performing Arts Space Residency
  • Visual Arts Studio Residency
  • Without Borders (Accessible Arts) Residency $5000.

The residencies offer space for the creation of new work and mentoring opportunities for the further development of existing creative projects. Blacktown Arts Centre is recognised for its exploration of dynamic, culturally diverse work that reflects Blacktown, its history and its communities. Above is one of this year’s resident artists Nazanin Marashian combining calligraphy and ink drawing in her exploration of identity. Nazanin came to Australia from Iran as a young child when her family fled the Iran/Iraq war in the early 1980s. A great deal of her art work is influenced by the lingering images of war torn houses and streets and the stories from relatives who remained in Iran. BNazanin - drawing first dayelow, left, is a work from her first day of residency – as she “got a few different ideas flowing.

Central to Blacktown Arts Centre’s program are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities drawing on issues of local and global significance. A free workshop to assist applicants will be conducted by award-winning author and long-time writing coach Janet Fennell.

Writing for Small Grants & Opportunities 
Saturday, 13 August | 10am – 4pm | Blacktown Arts Centre
BOOK NOW

Another will be conducted by Patricia Adjei from Viscopy to answer questions relating to copyright, licensing, fair use and moral rights. Patricia will also explain the Resale Royalty Scheme in relation to your practice, and in particular for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Viscopy Licensing & Copyright Law 
Saturday, 20 August | 2pm – 4pm | Blacktown Arts Centre
BOOK NOW

Applications close Wednesday, 9 September 2016. Blacktown Arts Centre.

Among the people who have made a major contribution to Blacktown Arts Centre’s performing arts program and simultaneously benefited from the centre’s support is Richard Petkovic. Richard is the founder and director of Sydney Sacred Music Festival now in its sixth year. In the course of his musical and regional networking during the last 20 years, Richard has met many highly skilled musicians – many of whom arrived in Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra - 6 of 14 membersAustralia as refugees. Two years ago, they launched Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra which combined an eclectic mix of cultural music from Mongolia, East Turkistan, Vietnam, China, Mexico and Indigenous Australia to create new Australian music that explores different cultures, faiths and genres.

“Featuring some of the best ‘world’ musicians in Sydney, SWMCO melds classical strings, Dervish rhythms, Latin Samba and intimate melodies to smash conservative music conventions and create a dynamic journey that changes the internal chemistry of the listener,” Richard says. Now some of these musicians are collaborating with others and leading visual and multimedia artists to create the spectacular Worlds Collide event on Saturday, September 3, as part of this year’s Sydney Sacred Music Festival.

william+barton+sacred+musicThe festival will be formally launched with The Gathering Ceremony at Marrong, Friday, September 2, at 2pm  (Prospect Hill) Pemulwuy. Featuring in the ceremony will be internationally renowned didjeridoo player, William Barton.

Marrong (Prospect Hill), was a place of Darug ceremony for thousands of years and the highest landmass in the Sydney Basin. It was from Marrong that indigenous warrior, Pemulwuy, observed the approaching devastation of Aboriginal land and led the resistance against the expanding colony. The Gathering Ceremony will bring together the local Aboriginal community to relaunch Marrong as a significant place of culture for Aboriginal people – a place of spirit and a place of the Crow (Pemulwuy’s totem).

The event kicks off a program that will continue until September 18 and incorporate a wide range of musical events in venues from Mona Vale to Campbelltown, Sydney CBD to the Blue Mountains. Program and bookings.

From Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) comes this urgent invitation –

PYT - Tribunal 2016Don’t miss out — TRIBUNAL is selling fast!

Join Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT), Griffin Theatre Company and some of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists and cultural leaders to tell the parallel stories of Indigenous Australia and our treatment of newly arrived refugees in a performed conversation at the SBW Stables Theatre from August 12 to 20. LISTEN HERE to the cast talk to ABC Radio National about TRIBUNAL

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW and are selling quickly. Book online HERE to avoid disappointment.

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International conflict, turmoil and displacement impact on local communities

1-George Gittoes - I WitnessSeveral arts projects are exploring international conflicts and their impact globally and on communities of western Sydney. On Saturday, May 28, at 3pm, Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest launches its Winter Suite of Exhibitions, which all explore themes of conflict, turmoil and displacement. The centrepiece is a touring exhibition developed by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre. I Witness is the first major survey in Australia of the work of leading Australian artist and filmmaker George Gittoes, above. I Witness presents a chronological journey through Gittoes’ career beginning in 1970 when he co-founded the Yellow House in Potts Point. There are more than 90 works: paintings, drawings, printmaking, and artist diaries from the fields of war, as well as installation and film.

George Gittoes - a work from No Exit AfghanistanGeorge Gittoes will open the exhibition and says, “I believe in art so much that I am prepared to risk my life to do it. I physically go to these places. I also believe an artist can actually see and show things about what’s going on that a paid professional journalist can’t and won’t do, and can show a level of humanity and complexity that they wouldn’t cover on TV”. Conflict zones where he has worked include Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has a special concern for speaking to young people about war and conflict through the medium of film. On Sundays in July, George Gittoes’ documentary films will be shown at 2pm. Above is a work from his 2011 exhibition No Exit from Afghanistan.

Complementing the main exhibition will be a display of works by Norman Hetherington, the creator of television’s Mr Squiggle. Norman Hetherington was a soldier in an entertainment unit during World War II. His daughter Rebecca has curated Heth, an exhibition including some of his pen and ink drawings of the life of a soldier produced while on duty in Northern Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific.

Penrith R Gallery - ZwolowaAlso opening at the gallery on Saturday, May 28, is Zwolowa – A Celebration of Lofa culture and community.  Members of the Western Sydney Liberian Lofa community, Mamre House and visual arts students from Caroline Chisholm College have worked together to create this exhibition revealing the life of Lofa refugees in Australia and celebrating the continuity of their culture. On Sunday, June 5, there will be a special Liberian Beat and Market Day, from 11am to 2pm. Everyone is welcome to all the exhibitions and events and admission is free. The gallery is set in beautiful gardens at 86 River Rd, Emu Plains, where the Winter Suite continues to August 21.

Education is a vital part of this series and of the overall work of Penrith Regional Gallery. The gallery recently announced the recipient of its new 12 month paid education internship program. Penrith is the only gallery in Sydney to offer such an internship and Christine Ghali is the first recipient. She majored in ceramics at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and completed a Masters of Arts Administration course. Christine’s research paper Is There A Place for Art Education in Western Sydney? An Investigation on Its Importance for the Development of Children and At Risk Youth, is of great interest for the gallery’s education program, where she will be mentored by Naomi McCarthy, the gallery’s education manager.

Penrith R Gallery - Christine GhaliChristine’s own art practice is informed by her cultural heritage as a Coptic Christian and the conflict and persecution they have experienced in their homeland of Egypt. Left is a figure from her  ceramic work Hear No Evil, See No Evil, 2011, which she describes as representative of the suffering of people living in situations of religious, political and cultural intolerance. The hand built ceramics of Buff Raku Trachyte are bandaged with earthen ware slip and partly glazed. She says “Many of the figures have dates of recent attacks inscribed into them as well as the words ‘Lord Have Mercy’ in Arabic, Coptic and English script.”

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, will be on display in Penrith Library throughout the period of the Winter Suite of Exhibitions at the Penrith Regional Gallery. At the same time, Christine Ghali will be developing and delivering a regional youth project in response to the gallery’s winter exhibition suite.

Coming up on June 10, as part of Vivid Ideas 2016 is Pop Culture, Migration and Revolution – Transnational Responses to Injustice. Part conversation, part performance, party and revolution, the event brings together “some of the most exciting artists from the transnational Australian underground hip hop scene, to perform and share conversation with the audience.” Organised by Fairfield’s Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT), Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) and the Religion, State & Society Network (University of Sydney), the event is a lead up to the development of a new activist hip hop musical. To be produced by PYT and ATYP, WATAN will explore the lived experience of young migrant Australian poets and musicians from western Sydney.

Colony - KurinjiThen on June 22, you have the opportunity to experience the next stage of the multi-year, multi-artform project Colony, which is gathering stories across western Sydney and worldwide around the themes of climate change, social division and restricted social freedom. Riverside Theatres and Curiousworks will present an audio-visual concert by Kurinji (Aimee, above). Colony – When the Tide Comes In continues the story of Sam, a young woman living in a 22nd century Australia struggling under the impact of these changes. Colony draws on the largely unknown stories of western Sydney’s multicultural communities and moves across the region’s precolonial past and into its unfolding future. Bookings and information.

Self help and mutual support are key components of region’s theatre development

1-Team Australia - PYT A wealth of activity in theatre making continues around the region. Two recent youth theatre productions have demonstrated the diversity of theatre making and the people involved in its creation in western Sydney. After 18 months of weekly workshops developing their self-devised show, Powerhouse Youth Theatre presented Team Australia: Stories from Fairfield, left, last month. After warnings that it was intimate, irreverent and deeply political, it seemed surprising that it wasn’t a more blatant political satire, given that “Team Australia” was a favourite slogan of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Maybe that was a benefit. That Prime Minister had only just lost power and the issues of concern to the young people involved were undoubtedly political in other ways – education, immigration, and the rights and opportunities for young women, among them. As with the problem of a simplistic slogan, Team Australia proved an unruly bunch, who never quite corresponded to the expectations of their trainers. An absorbing experience.

Outsiders - Johnny - Ivan HuiThen Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) Youth Theatre, presented their western Sydney adaptation of the 1967 American novel by S E Hinton The Outsiders. It was an ambitious undertaking involving a cast and production team of 60 and engaging local talent and others from metropolitan Sydney, all between the ages of 15 and 25. The Outsiders was the Youth Theatre’s contribution to CPAC’s 21st birthday celebrations and a substantial achievement. Some of the core performers already have fine acting credentials and there were some excellent performances. Perhaps the role that sticks most in my memory is that of Johnny, played by Ivan Hui, above. Ivan provided a convincing portrait of a vulnerable teenager who had been severely bullied, but whose loyalty and commitment to Ponyboy carries them both through dark times.

Outsiders - Ponyboy - Sam NasserPonyboy himself, played by Sam Nasser from Sir Joseph Banks High School, was very credible as a 14 year old with an unusual interest in literature and a flair for keen observation and writing. It’s unfair to single out performers, but among the girls, Ariel Kozelj impressed with her independence and steady demeanor as Cherry, an “insider” who had witnessed the conflict at the centre of the drama.

CPAC Youth Theatre also fosters a close relationship with a specialist school for local students. Campbell House School is a school for specific purposes at Glenfield, which is preparing for their first creative arts festival. CPAC Youth Theatre arranged a fundraising screening of the classic film The Outsiders, with the support of Westfield and Event Cinemas, Liverpool, with proceeds to the school to develop the festival.

Emu Heights TC moves out 1015In the Penrith area Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School at Emu Plains has been the beneficiary of another local theatre company. Emu Heights Theatre Company is steadily dismantling after five years of a successful program of public productions and workshops tailored for schools. Director Ian Zammit posted photos, left, to EHTC’s Facebook page of the bump-out and farewell to sets and props from Penrith Lock-Up Storage, on Saturday, October 31. He says, “Thankfully we were able to send all our set-pieces and materials to people who will get the most out of it. We are delighted that the legacy of Emu Heights Theatre will continue with bright young creatives in the region: we wish the students and teachers at Nepean many years of usage out of them!”

1-Theatre Links #11Ian is also the founder and administrator of Theatre Links in the West. It is open to professionally-minded theatre arts practitioners and supporters of all levels of experience, based in or working from Western Sydney. From the November meeting, he reported, “Electric discussion on the topic of leadership, with several local & freelance performing artists attending, as well as representation for Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, Ruby Productions and the Acting Factory.”

Among the topics raised were:

• the need in wider western Sydney culture for our own theatre artists and stories, reflecting the most vibrant cultures from around the world, to be recognised as a vital force for social cohesion and change
• a need for a local theatre hub / venue for networking that also provides access and support for local theatre-makers and companies
• tertiary education for theatre professionals in western Sydney, given growing performing arts school student populations
• more robust and connected career path advice and leadership for theatre arts in primary and secondary schools

Q Lab 15 - Kay Armstrong - If We Are MadThe page also carries notice of Q Lab ’16, for which submissions close, November 20. During the first half of 2016 Q Theatre at Penrith will support four independent artists or groups of artists in the development of a new project. Right is Kay Armstrong, If We Are Mad, Q Lab ’15.

Finally, anyone interested in theatre making is invited to attend Theatre Links in the West’s final gathering for the year. It will be a relaxed and informal dinner at Michidora Korean BBQ Restaurant, Penrith, on Tuesday 1 December at 6.30-9 pm. Detail and bookings, click here.

PYT supports young people’s lead in finding the sacred in their shared humanity

PYT - Jump First - 1One dictionary definition of Sacred is “worthy of or regarded with reverence, awe, or respect.” I guess it was that definition that caused me to link UTP’s film One Day of Peace, and Sydney Sacred Music Festival to Powerhouse Youth Theatre’s latest show in my last blog post. I had booked to see Jump First, Ask Later twice last Saturday and I wasn’t disappointed. There is usually so much depth of thought, range of skills and speed of delivery in PYT productions that I need time to absorb it all – well as best I can, anyway.

Jump First, Ask Later was created by six young people from Fairfield who came together through their shared love of movement. Several were members of the parkour group Team 9 Lives, but by the time this project began last year, they had separated to become DMC (Dauntless Movement Crew), with a focus on art and movement. Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Force Majeure co-produced their show, which was directed and choreographed by Byron Perry, supported by AV designer Sean Bacon and sound designer Luke Smiles. Reviews have been full of praise.

PYT - Jump First - 3The show began with demonstrations of typical training, building strength, precision, timing, tight discipline and concentration – five young men – Joseph Carbone, Johny Do, Patrick Uy, Justin Kilic, Jimmy James Pham – and one girl, Natalie Siri, right. The delivery was frequently tongue-in-cheek. Members teased each other, but even as they seemed to compete, they were there to help each other and improve their skills. Safety consciousness was paramount. Gradually, they began to tell their stories, how they came to be involved, seeing challenges in physical elements just while they were walking in the streets. It’s not showing off. If you are worrying about what others think of you, you are not focused, one said.

As Joseph said, movement has become a way of life for all of them. They feel so good when they challenge themselves, exploring and experimenting and then passing on their skills to other young people. They love Fairfield, know its streets intimately and feel entirely at home there. They were making their way financially through teaching classes, commissioned performances, video and film recordings and bigger visions for the future. When you push yourself, it blocks out everything else. Movement is liberating, they say. They told stories of parents worried that they were just wasting opportunities to continue at university or to find a proper job, but expressed gratitude for their support and encouragement. Perhaps most poignant of all was Justin’s honesty in explaining how training helps him manage anger provoked by fractured family relationships. His “fight duet” with Joseph was a clever and very funny send up of stereotypes.

PYT - Jump First - 4The crew’s commitment to each other and to the other young people of their  neighbourhood is inspiring. Patrick and Johnny each came to DMC through their love of street dance. Patrick’s Cambodian background and Johnny’s from Vietnam can sometimes mean tension and distrust. Instead, they delivered wryly humorous performances that included a relaxed and highly entertaining exchange of quick hand and arm movements that brought shouts of approval from their audience.

Until they worked together on this show, crew members had never known each other’s stories, they say. That closer knowledge has welded them together as a totally interconnected team based on trust and coordination. For some like Joseph, who began 10 years ago, street movement was an underground activity distrusted by police. As they gained confidence and acceptance, they began engaging and training other young people. This week, lots of school groups have booked to see the performances and be inspired about their own potential. Classes are now expanding to Bankstown and Campbelltown and will shortly begin in Parramatta. Next year, DMC performs Jump First, Ask Later at Sydney Opera House, from where their show will be streamed live to regional schools.

1-Guido GonzalesBetween performances, I was lucky to run into film director Guido Gonzales, right, and some of his young team. They made the film Riz, which debuted to a capacity audience at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. They were all locals and enthusiastic about Jump First, Ask Later. Guido said, “It’s vitally important that we tell our own stories.” He has noticed a big change since making Riz and beginning work on their next production. Relaxation with a few drinks after work sessions has been common practice. Now some avoid alcohol. Respect for self, each other and the young people they reach is the underlying spirit – liberation and unlimited possibilities. This suggests finding the sacred in our everyday lives.

It’s a sharp contrast to the picture of life in suburban Sydney fostered by lazy media reporting and too many state cultural institutions. In her PhD thesis just published online by UTS, Penny Stannard begins her introduction: In 2011 Hollywood star and Sydney resident Cate Blanchett and her Sydney Theatre Company co-artistic director husband Andrew Upton recounted their suburban youth in the 1980s for the purpose of securing further state and local government investment in Sydney’s harbourside cultural precinct. For them, Sydney suburbs were ‘flat, dry (and) filled with sinister silence’, while ‘town (the city) was the centre’, a ‘magnetic attractor’, a chance to invent and create. Blanchett and Upton insisted passionately that it is ‘vital for the children of the suburbs that capital cities act like capital cities’ and develop metropolitan inner city precincts filled with artists and cultural organisations. But they also stressed that the key to success of such precincts lay in them being located where people live. Blanchett and Upton were unaware of the paradoxical nature of their statement. The majority of Sydneysiders, and indeed Australians, live in the suburbs.

It was ePYT - Jump First - 2nough to win state government budget support, which has again left western Sydney scraping for crumbs. As Guido says, “If we can make a film like Riz in nine days with only $85,000 and have it selected for Sydney Film Festival, imagine what we could do with decent funding!” Jump First, Ask Later plays till Saturday and tickets are selling fast. Click here to buy tickets.

Multi-faith film projects “One Day for Peace” across multiple sites

UTP - One Day for Peace - 3It was an act of faith that launched Urban Theatre Projects‘ crowd funding campaign for their second documentary film One Day for Peace. They had already won a Western Sydney Arts Initiative grant funded by the Crown Resorts Foundation and Packer Family Foundation, but they needed a further $15,000. They began 22 days of filming, just as they launched their Pozible campaign. As filming finished on July 21, 76 supporters helped them reach their target. It was a great achievement and one warmly acknowledged by Rosie Dennis, UTP’s artistic director and the film’s director.

Just as this blog has grown out of our daily experience of western Sydney as a frontier society where were “working out the multicultural project day by day”, Rosie says, “One Day For Peace takes us on a journey across the suburbs of western Sydney to ask: what do you believe? We see everyday ritual combine with reflections on humanity, impermanence and social justice. An epic undertaking, One Day For Peace wrestles with some big (and not so big) questions inside homes, prayer houses and from the back seat of a taxi.

UTP - One Day for Peace - 1 “During the making of One Day For Peace, Urban Theatre Projects collaborated with dozens of people of different faiths, beliefs and cultural backgrounds. The film aims to provide viewers with a deeper understanding about the role of faith as something greater than the individual, and look to the importance of belief in people’s daily lives. The work was also designed to be a compelling counterpoint to the perceived differences between cultures and religions, which are often inflated by the media.”

Exploration of difference, whether it be cultural, religious, art form or experience has long been a theme of arts projects and programs in western Sydney. It allows the opening up of dialogue between groups, the acceptance and understanding of difference and the discovery of commonalities. Just like One Day for Peace, it leads to opportunities for creative collaborations and a sharing of vision and inspiration. This is very much the theme of Sydney Sacred Music Festival, opening September 5, and I’m guessing, PYT’s Jump First, Ask Later, launched today at Fairfield. I’m looking forward to seeing it on Saturday.

UTP - One Day for Peace - 2One Day for Peace will be screened over two weeks in high pedestrian traffic locations across Western Sydney from 14–27 September, with the video work to be projected onto buildings, screens and in train stations in Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Canley Heights, Liverpool, Mt Druitt and Parramatta. Click here for location details and times.

Powerhouse Youth Theatre launch turns migration complaint on its head

PYT 9 Lives 2015Powerhouse Youth Theatre launched its 2015 program at Fairfield School of Arts, on Monday, March 9, in an atmosphere of exuberant warmth and enthusiasm. Guests were welcomed with traditional Iraqi coffee, tea and sweets, the PYT Ensemble gave a taste of their performance range in languages including Arabic, Spanish, Pashto and English, and the Choir of Love presented a set of songs drawing on the musical heritage of Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac cultures.

Catering was provided by Parents’ Cafe Fairfield, a social enterprise established to explore pathways to training and employment in hPYT - Parent Cafe and Kaz 0315ospitality for newly arrived refugees. Parents’ Cafe is incorporated in partnership with Fairfield High School and Sydney South West Area Health Service. Above, artistic director Karen Therese introduces project 9Lives and right, stands proudly with the team from Parents’ Cafe. The atmosphere of good will and cooperation in support of young people was palpable.

More than 200 young people of diverse cultural backgrounds come into PYT’s home in Fairfield’s old School of Arts each week. They participate in a wide range of programs and wPYT 2015 Program Launch - Team 9 Livesork with some of Australia’s leading artists.  Among this year’s special projects is 9Lives, an urban choreographic portrait of the streets of Fairfield to be developed with Force Majeure for presentation in August. Team 9Lives is a local group  dedicated to the philosophies and movement practices of parkour. Wikipedia describes parkour as a holistic training discipline using movement that developed in France in the late 1980s. Only the human body and the surroundings are used for propulsion, with a focus on maintaining as much momentum as possible while still remaining safe. Team 9Lives has turned parkour into a dance form thrilling to watch, let alone participate in. See their Facebook page.

Team 9 Lives - SOH  2 0315Self-taught from the beginning, Team 9Lives is now western Sydney’s underground street-style champions. Ali Kadhim, Joseph Carbone, Justin Kilic, Jimmy James Pham, Johnny Do, Natalie Siri and Patrick Uy of Team 9Lives have already conducted workshops and performed at Sydney Opera House, right. There are plans for a full scale performance there next year. They share their skills with anyone willing to learn and conduct regular evening workshops with local young people in the RTA car park, almost opposite PYT’s home. For the core practitioners, there is a strongly spiritual base to their work, mental discipline and a commitment to overcome obstacles and disadvantage. A constant creative exploration has led them to filmmaking, sharing skills on YouTube and providing entertainment for public and private celebrations.

PYT - David Capra and Kate Blackmore 0315A series of projects will be developed throughout the year, where young people work with established artists and partners like Fairfield City Council and C3West (MCA Australia) to create new theatre and dance works, dinner parties, dance parties, exhibitions, a film festival and opportunities to become part of continuing PYT programs. Lifetime Fairfield resident and artist, David Capra and Kate Blackmore, above, will work with young artists and experimental filmmakers to present Motion Pictures – A Festival of New Cinema in Youth Week.

PYT 2015 Program Launch - Iraqui danceThe launch was the perfect antidote to a Facebook response to my recent blog post about Cat Thao Nguyen’s memoir We Are Here. The Facebook respondent said: Australia was a great and kind nation because we put Australia first and people who immigrated here wanted to assimilate. Today, we have to try and please the new immigrants to their way of life. It just doesn’t and won’t work. Immigration has gone too far and taken over the Australian way of life. Unfortunately, all the do-gooders out there have allowed this to happen.

The writer seemed unaware that immigration is government policy. The number to be accepted in 2014-2015 is 190,000, set at budget time. Governments want more workers and more taxpayers. Click here for detail. In addition, I understand a further 13,000 may be accepted as refugees. By any standards, Australia’s current treatment of refugees is far less humane than it was in the 1970s and 80s. Like Thao, who is now an international lawyer, many refugees make a great contribution to Australian society. In the photo above, young and old, Middle Eastern, Asian, European and Anglo Australian join a traditional social dance at PYT’s launch, with much whooping and excitement. For more launch photos, click here.

1-PYT 2015 Program Launch - Bridget and AuntieWestern Sydney is “a frontier society . . . It tells us the way Australia is going . . . in western Sydney they’re working out the multicultural project day by day, in a way most Australians are not called upon to do,” says social researcher Hugh Mackay. This is the introduction to the About section of this blog and is the daily experience for most people living in the region. And it’s not always easy. The Fairfield area has experienced non-English speaking migration since the mid 19th century and for decades has had more than 130 different cultural groups and languages. For those who have lived in parts of the region, which have retained their Anglo-Australian composition for longer, change can seem comparatively hard to accommodate. Above, Sydney Opera House head of education and performance for young people, Bridgette Van Leuven, left, with Aboriginal elder Auntie Maggie Williams at the PYT launch.

Powerhouse Youth Theatre is now approaching 30 years since its establishment in 1987 at Casula Powerhouse. It seems it’s already embedded in an “Australian way of life”. For more PYT program information and how to get involved, click here.