Refugee artists’ showcase seeks to ‘future-proof’ their professional careers
As COVID-19 was turning the world upside-down in 2020, eight artists embarked on an immersive and artistic professional development program exploring their refugee experiences. Their goal was to maximise opportunities within the Australian arts sector, where their voices had been generally neglected and unheard. Twelve months later, a month-long, multi-art form showcase called Future-Proof is presenting their unique interpretation of the many facets of life of new Australian artists.
Running at the Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, April 10 to May 8, Future-Proof is the outcome of Settlement Services International’s (SSI) Artist Development Program (ADP), which equips artists from refugee and newly-arrived migrant backgrounds with the skills, support and mentorship required to excel artistically and professionally.
The eight artists – one theatre performer and seven visual artists – range from the young and creative to the very experienced. All, however, drew on the Artist Development Program for mentorship and guidance on the steps required to prepare for a public exhibition in Australia.
The showcase will include artworks and video works by Emmanuel Asante, Maher Al Khoury, Mariam Abbas, Mahnaz Giahparvar, Payam Gouya, Mehrdad Mehraeen and Raneen Shamon.
In the final days of Future-Proof, Iranian artist Najmeh Shoara will present The Woman Who Crossed the Road, a brand-new one-woman play based on the true stories of many women who have left the place they could not stay in and are now here – in the place where they are starting again.
SSI Arts & Culture Producer Raphael Brasil said, “This will be the first time Najmeh Shoara has presented a body of work in Australia. Some of the visual artists are also exhibiting for the very first time here. It feels amazing to be part of their journey along a successful pathway in the arts sector.”
He said the mentors were an important part of the program. “We were very lucky to be able to work with some of the best artists in their fields. The mentorship stage was an integral part for the success of ADP and the results speak volumes.”
SSI worked with Blacktown Arts Centre during the creative development and showcase stages of the program, which has been assisted by the Australian Government through its arts funding and advisory body, the Australian Council for the Arts.