So I’ve been asked to get up on my soap box and write a little spiel about pathways for emerging artists in Brisbane. How do you find your way into an industry that seems so hard to crack?

As an emerging director and producer, I feel there doesn’t seem to be any clear pathways to paid work. Maybe that seems bleak, and maybe it’s the angst of a person just about to graduate an arts degree, but it seems to be a truth for many in my position. A degree doesn’t magically grant you a career in the arts. You need to work hard to find hands-on experiences. These opportunities are the pathways – the ones you create for yourself by making your own work.

In the past three years of my bachelor studies, most of my learning has come not from being in a lecture chair, but from being at rehearsals outside of university. The practical experiences in my degree seem to be getting less and less like the “real world”. Everywhere a three-hour tutorial can be turned into a two-hour tutorial, it is. Our teaching team are outstanding sources of knowledge. Why is it that our rehearsals that are supposed to be like professional experiences for us seem to be bubble wrapped taste testers where we all go through the motions for a score on a scale from 1 to 7? I’m not sure.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m very thankful for having the opportunity to attend university. It’s important to be able to discuss art and art making with knowledge in a shared language. (I also love the fact that I can impress my parents by talking about postmodernism or the importance of cultural democracy.) However, the truth is that the pathways from university into the industry aren’t clear, and you have to go beyond your studies to actually get the skills you need.

It’s places like Metro Arts that support artists in making this first step. Just this year I’ve worked on three projects at Metro, each in different capacities from digital media designer to assistant producer. I’ve also been working with Metro all year to try to create pathways for others. If you didn’t already know, Vena Cava Productions is QUT’s student theatre company, run completely by students for students. I’m lucky enough to be at the helm as Artistic Director in 2018. This year Metro Arts have welcomed us as Student Company in Residence 2018. I can’t stress enough how fantastic this is.

We’ve been working alongside Metro to present an entire festival dedicated to creating pathways for emerging artists. It’s called Fresh Blood Festival. All sorts of live performances have been created, bound only by the fact that the works have never been seen before, and that they have been created completely by students. We’ll be having a dramaturge in residence to give feedback on the shows, and an industry panel discussion on theatre making in Brisbane. It’s a place for learning, experimentation, connecting experienced artists with emerging artists and for showcasing some the future of Brisbane’s arts scene. I’m so glad to have been part of this, and it makes me hopeful that pathways for emerging artists will continue to become more prominent through initiatives such as this.

Aaron Dora

Artistic Director, Vena Cava Productions

July 2018