Solidarity Project Series

Our response to COVID-19

During 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic left many artists without work, the Solidarity Project Series was our way of providing financial, cultural and artistic support for independent artists.

 

The results of the Solidarity Project Series were showcased and celebrated at our End-of-Year Yirra Yaakin Family Picnic.

 

Background

The Solidarity Project Series began with a call-out for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) via social media. The call-out allowed artists to come to us with ideas on ways Yirra Yaakin (YY) could support them to stay afloat, keep creating and/or up-skill during the era of social distancing.

The EOIs asked that artists outline how we could support them to realise art that might be ‘burning to get out of them’, and how we could be a means through which they engage with other artists to get through this time safely – in Solidarity.

Read the call-out for EOIs

The Projects

From the 5 EOIs and multitude of suggestions that YY received, we selected 3 independent and 3 group projects to support.

Read the descriptions for each project below:

Cracked – the graphic novel

This project idea involved our 2019 production of Cracked being adapted into a graphic novel by the play’s original writer, Barbara Hostalek and 3 local First Nations graphic artists.

We funded Barb’s participation in a Neil Gaiman masterclass where she learnt about writing for a graphic novel format, providing her with a springboard from which to begin the process of creating Cracked – the graphic novel.

YY also seed funded this project and the engagement of 3 local Aboriginal graphic/digital artists to begin the adaptation process.

Wondabah Giray – development of a new work

Nadia Martich (Yirra Yaakin Writers’ Group member; actor, Bilya Kaatijin) pitched her desire to develop a new interactive, site specific theatre/dance work exploring Blackfulla ghost stories from around Australia.

We seed funded the development of Wondabah Giray and encouraged the engagement of local artists to add their stories to the fray. We then sat with Nadia and worked on budgets, timelines and process for applications of further funding and secured a partnership with City of Joondalup to continue the development of this exciting new work.

The People on the Hill – script development

Chelinay Gates (Yirra Yaakin Writers’ Group member) was financially supported to write a new full-length work, The People on the Hill.

With The People on the Hill, Chelinay aims to work with and honour the members of our community that are so very often forgotten, the families living in desperate situations, and those that feel like no one can see or hear them.

Yirra Yaakin connected Chelinay to a renowned dramaturg to develop both the script and her skills as a playwright.

Yirra Play Club

The Yirra Play Club is a virtual space to read and discuss plays!

We hosted a series of play reading sessions. Each session was open to be facilitated by a different participant of the Club, who was paid a fee to pick a play and run the reading and discussion of the work.

Participants could contribute to the readings and discussions of plays as much or as little as they liked.

In 2021, the Yirra Play Club has taken a small break, as Western Australia went back to work and got very busy. However, Yirra Yaakin still intends for the Yirra Play Club to be an accessible and fruitful ongoing project.

After changing the delivery from fortnightly to monthly and deciding to alternate between in person gatherings (with Zoom inclusion) and purely online, Yirra Play Club will return in July 2021. We still aim to expand this club nationally and even internationally as we establish healthy and appropriate ways to network, connect and support each other through this still tumultuous world we all live, work and create art in.

"Which Way?" First Nations Virtual Poetry Workshops

 

“Which way?”
“Proper way!”

– all Aboriginal people everywhere

In 2019, as part of The Blue Room Theatre’s Winter Nights Season, Yirra Yaakin ran a one-day poetry workshop called Ode to the OP.

Then, in 2020, we created “Which Way?” First Nations Virtual Poetry Workshops, engaged 10 First Nations emerging or aspiring poets and provided a platform for them to develop their writing and performance poetry skills.

Jennifer Compton (a world-renowned playwright and poet) ran a series of virtual poetry workshops from her base in Melbourne.

These workshops were extremely successful and useful to local poets, with some outcomes being delivered at our End-of-Year Yirra Yaakin Family Picnic.

We will deliver “Which Way?” First Nations Virtual Poetry Workshops again in the second half of 2021. The workshops will once again, be open to up to 10 Western Australian emerging Aboriginal poets, who will have the opportunity to draw on Jennifer’s unparalleled knowledge of this art from.

Yirra Yaakin Auslan Group

Paving the way for the first Aboriginal AUSLAN interpreter.

Through doing works partially and completely in Aboriginal languages, we have realised that there was no way we could present our shows to people with hearing impediments because there are no First Nations Auslan interpreters.

As a first step towards remedying this, a group of our independent artists and staff held meetings fortnightly to learn Auslan while in isolation and beyond.

This is ongoing and we hope to encourage more Aboriginal people in WA to learn Auslan and support work being accessible to everyone.

We also hope that this will lead to further employment opportunities for Western Australian artists, and the ability to interpret works that have been adapted and translated into Aboriginal languages.

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