Project Alchemy: a cross disciplinary arts project to build resilience and lead bushfire recovery across south-east Australia.
The devastation left by the 2019/20 bushfires to the natural and built environment was horrific. There was a profound impact on every individual and community. Everyone’s experience was different, as is everyone’s path to recovery.
Alchemy, led by the award-winning Canberra-based company Rebus Theatre, will enable practising artists from regions directly impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires to come together in an Applied Theatre Residency to share skills, rebuild their practice and return to their own communities to lead community projects employing the arts to help repair, reconnect and celebrate their community.
The project aims to foster sustainable practices for artists through networking, mentorship and skill sharing. A ‘train the trainer model’, will support artists as they return to their bushfire- impacted areas to lead a cultural development project for their community.
The project will use the artistic skills of practising artists across the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley, East Gippsland, and Queanbeyan-Palerang shires and the ACT, to impart a unique recovery program for each area.
The program will be run through four distinct phases. These will be:
- interactive Playback Theatre performances and workshops in each shire. Playback Theatre is a form of improvised theatre where audience members tell their stories and actors and musicians improvise their stories back on the spot. In each shire the Rebus team will give an evening performance, followed by a daytime workshop where those interested can meet the team, play games, further share stories and learn about the project.
- a series of residencies. Residencies will be for a team of three practising artists from each of the five shires, held at a central location. During the residences participants will develop their skills in using arts for recovery, including learning about trauma-informed practice, games and exercises for drawing out and sharing stories safely, and project design, implementation and evaluation, as well as having opportunities for skill-sharing within the group.
- ongoing mentorships and networking. Rebus will mentor artists in each shire to develop their own community recovery and resilience projects, through video conferencing, and participants will develop their own network of sharing and support.
- community projects in each shire. The project will culminate in a creative project in each shire to enhance the recovery and resilience of the community.
The project is managed by Rebus Theatre, a mixed ability company based in the ACT, working throughout south-east Australia. Having lived through the 2003 Canberra bushfires and faced them again over the Black Summer, the Alchemy project sits at the heart of our own experience, and we feel strongly called to this work.