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Anna Davis

Shobei Tamaya IX & Kirsty Boyle Shobei Tamaya IX & Kirsty Boyle
photo Yuji Hiraiwa
The challenge of applying for financial support to make work is familiar to most practicing artists. Apparently difficult application forms and complicated budgets can deter potential young candidates. RUN_WAY, offered by The Australia Council’s New Media Arts Board, is an attempt to overcome some of these obstacles by giving young and emerging artists (30 years and under) the chance to apply for up to $5000 towards their own unique professional development scenario using an uncomplicated application process. I spoke to Assistant Program Officer Reed Everingham who has guided and nurtured the program through all 3 funding rounds. Everingham is genuinely passionate about RUN_WAY and the way it has affected its many recipients and stimulated the new media arts field in general. “I’ve seen RUN_WAY really elevate artists and make them feel much more confident about their arts practice.”

As part of the Federal Government’s Young and Emerging Artists’ Initiative administered by The Australia Council, RUN_WAY is based on the Skills and Arts Development funding model but with a much simpler and more direct application procedure.” Making the whole thing less bureaucratic, with less red tape,” says Everingham. “I wanted to say to people, just give us 2 pages on what you really want to do and why you want to do it, and a CV.” This straightforward approach obviously appealed–the New Media Arts Board has processed 101 applications in total. The board has also seen a positive flow on from RUN_WAY into the regular funding rounds with many successful applicants proving themselves in an extremely competitive field. The scheme also educates Council artform board members about youth practice by giving them greater exposure to young artists’ projects.

As soon as the New Media Arts Board announced the first round of 15 successful applicants in 2002, RUN_WAY became the hot topic of conversation in young artist circles. Everingham says, “The first round of recipients did a great job advocating the initiative, and mostly by word of mouth.” Successful RUN_WAY recipients have traveled across Australia, to Asia, Europe, the UK and the US attending conferences, festivals, forums, symposiums, exhibitions and engaging in residencies and mentorships. 44 Australian artists and artsworkers have been supported so far. Only just scraping in to this age bracket, receiving a RUN_WAY grant was enough to have me running around like I was 25 again!

I think one of the most exciting aspects of RUN_WAY has been the encouragement to ‘think outside the square’, to design a skills and arts development scenario that really suits your individual needs. Most artists I know are big dreamers and this invitation seemed to strike a chord with many. I asked artist Kirsty Boyle whose RUN_WAY grant allowed her to follow her dream of studying under Shobei Tamaya, a 9th generation, karakuri ningyo craftsman, what appealed to her most about the initiative. “I liked the freedom of not being confined, and being able to travel overseas,” says Boyle. “If I hadn’t traveled to Japan I would never have been able to study the karakuri tradition. As there is only one living master left it was all the more exciting meeting him and seeing him work in his workshop.” Karakuri ningyo is a Japanese mechanical doll and puppetry tradition that dates back to the 12th century. Since returning to Australia, Boyle has become a Cultural Contact at the Consulate General of Japan’s Information and Cultural Centre, giving guest lectures on her experiences and has a show in October at Melbourne’s Westspace. “It’s been great to come back and have all this new knowledge and inspiration,” she says.

In another out of the ordinary, self initiated program, artist Boo Chapple will undertake an 8-week residency focusing on the areas of cell culture and neurophysiology at the symbioticA lab in Perth exploring what she describes as “the connection between the body electric and sonic/ digital architecture.” Not all RUN_WAY recipients Skills and Arts Development programs were so unusual. The allure of well-established, large-scale international arts festivals like ISEA, ArsElectronica and Transmediale continue to attract many applicants and for good reason. Artists and artsworkers in Australia are aware that far from these shores (or sometimes just on the other side of the country) exists the legendary glamour, fame, fun and fortune (and of course critical debate and discussion) of the world’s leading new media arts festivals. Events like these, I can now say from personal experience, can turn any dull town into a throbbing, pulse point of artistic fever and inspiration. By giving young and emerging artists and artsworkers the chance to attend these festivals, RUN_WAY provides the unique opportunity to experience all this first hand and perhaps most importantly to meet and engage with their contemporaries.

RUN_WAY also encourages young artsworkers to extend and enliven their experience and understanding of interdisciplinary and new media arts practice. Joni Taylor, another first round RUN_WAY applicant, writer and former Electrofringe director, used her grant to attend the European Media Arts Festival (EMAF) in Osnabruck and other smaller scale events throughout Germany. Taylor made valuable contacts in the international new media art scene, some of whom became guests at Electrofringe. One fortuitous meeting was with Jon Dekron, a leading Berlin video performer, famous for his spectacular live shows created using his own video mixing software. Dekron’s enthusiastic and generous approach was one of Electrofringe 2002’s highlights. In RUN_WAY’s latest round Marcus Westbury, Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Next Wave Festival will have the opportunity to experience 2 other important international events, Ars Electronica in Austria and the Next 5 Minutes festival in the Netherlands. This will no doubt lead to more stimulating cross cultural exchange and collaboration opportunities for Marcus and the many other people involved in Next Wave.

Everingham has good news, “We are offering RUN_WAY again as part of our May 2004 application round...let people know about it.”

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 24

© Anna Davis; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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