Building Up our own Regional Renaissance
“It’s time for a shake up: new voices, new stories, new artforms”. That’s the shared energy driving Brown’s Mart’s new CEO, Sophia Hall and Artistic Director Sean Pardy as they fortify and expand on the company’s investment in artist and project development.
Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, and limits to domestic travel further increasing the impact of geographical isolation, “Brown’s Mart is committed to our community, to our artists, and to creating a space where all ideas, all peoples, all stories are welcome,” say Sean and Sophia on their new vision for Brown’s Mart, which is approaching its 50th anniversary in 2022.
Recognising their place on Larrakia country, and the rich cultural and artform diversity of the Top End, this new vision builds on Brown’s Mart’s long history as a leading community arts organisation and will be at the heart of their 2022 program to be launched in October. In the lead up to this announcement, Brown's Mart’s focus is on the artists.
Brown’s Mart’s highly successful BUILD UP program, which enters its 10th year in 2021, supports new work from a range of artforms, artists and cultural practices, offering time and space to develop ideas without the pressures of a performative outcome.
This year, supported artists and projects include Warumungu performer/playwright Lynette Hubbard’s new piece Blak Hearts Matter; an immersive performance experience from ARIA nominated musician/music producer Kuya James (James Mangohig); performers and devisors Ciella Williams, Kyle Walmsley and Sarah Reuben’s site-specific work New Year’s Eve 1999; emerging playwright Danielle Aquilina’s exploration of the pressing issue of young people’s mental health; and award-winning singer/songwriter David Garnham with The Choir of Man. Further support is being given to choreographer/dancers Venaska Cheliah and Jess Devereux to develop a new intercultural dance work.
This weekend (16-18 July), 14 artists from theatre, dance, puppetry, music, poetry and community cultural development will dive into the Brown’s Mart Residency*. First delivered in 2019, in partnership with Performing Lines, this year the residency hosts nationally acclaimed mentors Kirk Page, Susie Dee and Mike Finch, and will nurture exploration and risk-taking. Participants generate new ideas, progress projects and forge creative relationships across a three-day intensive.
Brown’s Mart is taking a more active listening role with the First Nations community, hosting a monthly conversation series, committing to improved accessibility for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and audiences, and re-framing their First Nations Writing Program (which has been running since 2018) into a multi-artform program. In 2021, this program is supporting the development of a large-scale performance work by poet, community leader, singer, Aboriginal elder and activist Aunty Kathy Mills OAM involving song, dance, storytelling and projected footage. A new drag comedy hip-hop cabaret work from 2018 Australian Poetry Slam champion Yolngu artist Melanie Mununggurr is also being supported.
In these difficult times it has been important to support and recognise achievements across the performing arts sector. Working with their We3 partners, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts and Tracks Dance Company, Brown’s Mart are again hosting the Northern Territory Performing Arts Awards. The call for nominations went out on Monday 2 July and closes on 18 October 2021.
With these important initiatives a priority, Brown’s Mart recently launched their Supporters Program, where donations are specifically directed towards the development of new, local and First Nations work from the Top End. “Together we are building up our community of artists and projects in our own regional renaissance,” Sean and Sophia concluded.
*Brown’s Mart Residency was first delivered in partnership with Performing Lines, and with support from the Australia Council. Original concept developed by Tasmania Performs, part of Performing Lines, and supported by Arts Tasmania.
Brown's Mart Arts Ltd
(T/as Brown’s Mart Theatre)
ABN: 67 141 763 895
12 Smith Street Darwin City
GPO Box 3451, Darwin NT 0801