Throughout regional South Australia there are communities who understand better than most the power of the arts. They recognise the significant role creativity plays in connecting people, building camaraderie, and enriching our lives. But while regional communities value the arts (much like their metropolitan counterparts), often the road to success for emerging regional creatives is a much more difficult one.

Having grown up in regional South Australia, Elise Ross knows the challenges faced by regional creatives.

“I am all too familiar with the obstacles young regional people face when trying to pursue their passion,” Ross says. “There just isn’t the same access to support or professional development as is available to creatives based in, or around major cities. We want to try and help change this and support emerging regional creatives to chase successful careers in the arts.”

Recognising the challenges faced by regional creatives, the Helpmann Academy with support from the Ross Family, have launched the inaugural Elise Ross Regional Award. Valued at up to $5000, the award is intended to support the professional development of a Helpmann Academy-eligible creative living in a regional area.

The award can go towards supporting a variety of professional development outcomes.

“It might be that an emerging regional creative are wanting to develop a show, they might want to come to Adelaide, or go interstate to do some professional development, or go on a residency,” says Helpmann Academy CEO Jane MacFarlane.

“They might want to develop something in their own community – it might be a performance or there might be a group of musicians wanting to put on a show.

“We are broad in terms of the types of projects eligible creatives can apply for and we are eager to see this fit with the access needs for regional artists. For example, the Helpmann Academy have had many artists living regionally who have received funding to do mentorships, but a lot of these have taken place online due to geographical obstacles. Essentially these days with the technology that is available, there is so much scope to do different things.”

Image: Crista Bradshaw, 2023. Photo courtesy the artist

An artist who recently completed a project regionally with support from the Helpmann Academy, is proud Wangkumaran contemporary artist, Crista Bradshaw.

Bradshaw created the exhibition gawa nali yanta-ra nanta nura-anai (Come on, we’ll go to my camp) featuring photographic works for display in the 2023 SALA Festival.

“The exhibition stands as an ode to the heritage of Wangkumara, an invitation to feel the raw emotions ties to returning to Country, and an opportunity to contemplate the implications of cultural absence in modern times” Bradshaw says.

“Through photography and its interplay with light and darkness, we embark on a journey of reflection and understanding, seeking to bridge the gaps between the past and the present, and to honour the enduring spirit of the land and its people.”

Bradshaw’s project illustrates how initiatives by the Helpmann Academy, like the Elise Ross Regional Award, can have a meaningful and vital impact on the development of regional emerging artistic practice, and can empower individuals to progress in their career.

Applications for the Helpmann Academy Elise Ross Regional Award close on October 15, 2023, at 11:59pm. Applications can be made online here. The Elise Ross Regional Award is proudly supported by the Ross Family.

 Henry Wolff is a visual artist and arts worker living and working on Kaurna Country.

This story is sponsored by the Helpmann Academy.

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