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Artist expression of interest

Please read the following information prior to completing an Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

This submission process is for artists and companies that wish to work with schools in regional North West Victoria & South West NSW to assist them in presenting short works aligned with the 2018 Fairfax Youth Initiative theme.

About the Fairfax Youth Initiative

The Fairfax Youth Initiative is a series of workshops, activities and performances specifically for young people aged between 12 and 17 from regional and remote Australia.

Beginning in Swan Hill, Victoria in 1997, the Fairfax Youth Initiative is held annually in memory of George Fairfax, who grew up in Nangiloc, a small town in the Mallee region of Victoria.

He was well known for his support and encouragement of activities that involved young people in the arts, especially through places like Melbourne University, the Victorian College of the Arts and St Martin’s Youth Arts Centre.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative has three distinct phases:

  • Four days of in-community workshops to assist secondary school students to create a 10-minute performance piece.
  • Three and a half days of rehearsals and performance workshops in Swan Hill, Victoria.
  • A final community performance at the Swan Hill Town Hall Performing Arts Centre, showcasing the new works created, as well as any new specialist skills learned during the week.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative connects professional arts practitioners with regional and rural based youth to develop practical performance skills, technical understanding and to create diverse and professional quality theatre work.

The event process promotes skills development, access and inclusion across a wide range of social demographics and communities for young people and their leaders.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative’s philosophy has always been that no child should miss out on this life changing experience because they don’t live in a big city, come from a low socio-economic background or have physical or learning disabilities.

2018 THEME: We become the stories we tell

We humans are funny creatures. We always spin yarns and tell stories; all day and every day. We are expert storytellers. Every culture has thrived and survived through storytelling.

We tell stories about where we come from, about our connection to place and country. Local myths can quickly become folklore; surprising narratives thrive in unusual ways. Families sit around the kitchen table and reminisce about funny events from the past. Old blokes at the pub, or by the river bank with a fishing rod, know how to spin an expert yarn!
Equally, people feel hurt, excluded or frustrated when they don’t see their story acknowledged or appreciated. We include and exclude accounts all the time.

This 2018 Fairfax Youth Initiative will focus on the local stories and local narratives. Our theme is
“We become the stories we tell…”

We want to celebrate and shine a light on storytelling – and in particular the stories that may not be told otherwise. During this year’s Fairfax Youth Initiative we want to surprise each other and our audience with stories by young people from across this region – and in the words of the old adage – everyone has a story to tell!

Think about your part of the world –

The Football Team that never kicked a goal, or the old woman on the street corner who plants flowers on the nature strip for everyone in the community to enjoy, or the secret songs that you sing on the long school bus journey home each night. Think about the local Aboriginal stories – the ancient creation stories of 60,000 years ago, or the MegaFauna that once roamed this region. Think about the recent past – the migrants who arrived in this region to start farming in a new sort of way. Think about thepower of the Murray River as a metaphor. Think about the Mallee, its landscape and its poetic resonance. The list goes on and on and on.

We look at the people we pass by, and we wonder who they are. We can create stories in our mind – based on their body language, or gestures, or the rhythm in which they are moving along with. Stories are everywhere.

You will work with our guest artists to think outside the box.

We are doing this because we think there is something to celebrate, uncover and unlock. We believe it is important to remember that storytelling is essential.

Bryce Ives Fairfax Youth Initiative, Artistic Director

Project in a nutshell

The Fairfax Youth initiative connects rural communities with professional artists through onsite residencies.

Artists will work with regional young people, educators and their leaders to equip them with the skills to develop their own arts work and form networks with like-minded young people, artists and educators. The ultimate aim is to increase youth engagement and decrease perceived boredom.

Young people come to the Fairfax Youth Initiative from towns like Birchip, Manangatang, Bendigo, Swan Hill and Sea Lake.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative also crosses into the small NSW towns of Red Cliffs and Tooleybuc and has been inspirational in keeping young people in school and connecting with their wider communities.

Why this is important

Tomorrow’s success will be informed by what we choose to do today. Young Australians can’t be on the sideline of development and on the fringes of participation. Instead, young people need to be central in the design of solutions to the most pressing problems we face. This only happens when young people have opportunities and experiences to test their skills, to learn new skills and to experience something different.

Creativity is increasingly becoming the most invaluable skill to impart in the lives of young Australians. We must be developing the creative resolve of all young people in this region. Fostering exchange and collaboration is very important in regional Australia, and particularly in this part of the world.

The Fairfax Youth Initiative has many significant outcomes:

  • In order to succeed the students must collaborate with one another, with guest artists, with their teachers and with students from other schools
  • The students are embedded in the process of devising and making with professional artists
  • The students create their own work, from scratch, in a professional performing arts centre
  • The works sit alongside each other, in an inherently creative smorgasbord. A festival of ideas, creative responses from young people from across the region

Key artistic parameters

  • Each school will create a ten-minute performance work, working alongside the visiting collaborating artists.
  • In 2018 we will be referring to all participants as emerging artists – not as students. We want everyone to feel included, we also wish to acknowledge that you are an artist at any age level or experience.
  • The performance work should come from the emerging artists. The visiting collaborating artists will act as facilitators and advisors to support the development of the work and to foster exchange/ collaboration. Teachers help support the process along every step.
  • Visiting collaborating artists attend the schools and provide a series of workshops to build skills and to respond to the theme. Each artist has a different practice and approach – meaning each local workshop will be designed and delivered by the visiting artist – and will be responsive to their practice, training and background.
  • We encourage you to use the breadth and width of the Town Hall stage and theatre to its fullest possibilities. Your performance should be above and beyond a situational dialogue between characters, or pantomime, or comedy. It should be theatrical, surprising, inspiring or challenging.
  • Remember that the performance should be “expressive,” meaning that it should be less a literal depiction of characters and events than an expression of subjective experience. Ultimately it should provide a performance that is an exciting event.

Each group to pick one focus from above, to work alongside the theme: we are the stories that we tell.

Storytelling and:

  • Rhythm/ Tempo
  • Character/ Gesture/ Shape
  • Space and Place
  • Colour, song and music
  • Metaphor and mythology

Note:  This is not a creative writing exercise, and it may not involve scripts. It’s an invitation think about the role of storytelling in performance – about oral histories, about telling a story, about using story in performance. There will be improvisation, movement, imagery, sound, light – all of the things that make Fairfax Festival great.

About the Fairfax Youth Initiative Team

Artistic Director

We are pleased to welcome renowned artistic leader and advocate for young Australians – Bryce Ives into the role of Artistic Director of Fairfax.

Bryce works around Australia and around the world, leading events and experiences that have the potential to create significant change and transformation. Bryce is the Chief Facilitator of the ABC’s Heywire Regional Youth program, an initiative that he has been involved with for over eleven years. He is the Artistic Director of the iconic St. Kilda venue Theatre Works. He is a former Director of the Ballarat Arts Academy – one of Australia’s leading creative arts schools and regularly teaches at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Bryce loves this region – from Swan Hill to Robinvale, from Sea Lake to Lake Boga. He was part of Fairfax in 2015 and is currently working with Swan Hill Rural City Council to develop the first ever Creative Strategy for the region. He hopes this work connects meaningfully with the 2018 direction of Fairfax.


Yvette Myhill and Sharon Brinkman work at the Swan Hill Town Hall Performing Arts Centre and are responsible for bringing a diverse performing arts program to the local community.

Yvette has extensive experience in the arts industry, managing music and arts festival and most recently managing the music portfolio for the NSW State Government.

Sharon has been involved with Fairfax since 2014 and has been actively involved with many amateur theatre companies, on stage, behind the scenes, directing and painting scenic theatre backdrops.


Craig Martin and Brad Morpeth are the production technicians for the week of the Fairfax Youth Initiative in Swan Hill.

Craig has worked in performing arts centres around Australia and toured internationally with artists.

Brad has worked with the Fairfax Youth Initiative in a technical and production capacity for the last 7 years, and works on youth and community events around the Swan Hill region.


  • Tuesday, 19 June 2018 5pm: Expression of interest due.
  • Tuesday, 26 June 2018: Successful artists/companies notified
  • Tuesday, 3rd July 2017: Finalised schools dates/program, artists contracted
  • Throughout July & August: Workshops in Schools
  • Sunday, 16 September 2018: Artists planning session/welcome in Swan Hill
  • Monday, 17 September 2018: Schools arrive in Swan Hill and Opening Night Event
  • Tues, 18 September – Wednesday, 19 September 2018: Fairfax Youth Initiative Workshops
  • Thursday, 20 September 2018: Gala Performance/Showcase Event

Completing your expression of interest form

Expression of interest has now closed.

Snapshot of your past works

Provide a brief summary of relevant past works and please include video or YouTube links. Works that touch upon the 2018 theme, or that show experience mentoring secondary school students will be looked upon favourably.


Confirmation of your availability for two weeks to provide an in-school workshop at a school in North West Victoria/South West NSW in July or August (we will work with successful candidates to lock in dates that suit both the artists and the matched school during these months), as well as for a week in Swan Hill from the 16 – 20 September 2018.

If an art/group company are working with a school, it is expected that the same artists will attend both the workshops and Fairfax week.

Support material

Please provide a copy of your CV.

Working with Children

A valid Working With Children (WWC) card must be provided by all artists as part of their application. A confirmation of application will be accepted during the EOI process, but the card will need to be provided prior to commencing work with students.