Brisbane Arts organisations came together to empower future female leaders at the 2017 Matilda Awards.

Elise Greig, Chair of the awards, writes for Art Speak about the new award added for 2018 Emerging Female Leader and why it matters.

When Penny asked me to write a blog post I jumped at the chance.  Having sat in the auditorium of the Powerhouse Theatre the night before, watching the 2017 Matilda Awards ceremony, I was inspired, moved and empowered to witness six women I admire (Katherine Hoepper, Jo Thomas, Sandra Willis, Fiona Maxell, Paige Rattray and Kate Fell) announce the new Matilda Award category for Emerging Female Leader. They are personally financing this award as a sign of their commitment to the inclusion of women as leaders within the theatre sector.  Putting their money where their mouths are. Backing their words with deeds. A wealth of feminist literature tells us that recognition, attribution, acknowledgement, inclusion and respect are issues women have fought for throughout history. What a relief to see action addressing these issues.

The landscape is changing and there’s a palpable feeling that we are right in the middle of a milestone moment, not only in the arts, but in the broader community.  The goings on in Hollywood, the ructions closer to home, the #metoo and #timesup campaigns and the reactions, responses and resistances to these events are shaping the zeitgeist.  As I reflect on these issues as a middle-aged, middle-class white woman who is the mother of a daughter and two sons; a daughter herself; a wife; a sister; a human being and an artist, I’m drawn time and again to the central idea of change needing a balance of deeds and words.  The words come through conversation, written reflections, blogs, facebook posts, articles, personal letters, plays, song lyrics, journals, diaries, books, you name it. The deeds come through actions, opportunities created, sought, seized up and demanded. That’s what I saw last night.  That’s what sent shivers down my spine. Action. A group of women reaching into their pockets, so they can reach out and help the next generation to find their way more easily by recognising, not only merit, but also potential. This award contributes to the pathways available to women. How, when and why women walk these pathways is up to them, but without the pathways it’s so much harder for the journey to begin, and indeed to continue.  Having sat on the sidelines of the industry for the last decade while I raise my children, I’ve had time to reflect and renew my commitment to contributing in meaningful ways to my chosen art form as an actor/writer and also, now, in a leadership role as the Chair of the judging committee for the Matilda Awards. Yes, we need words, but we also need deeds. A good deed was done last night.

Elise Greig

February 2018