I started with the Institute in January this year in a part time role as the Director Special Projects and already I am enamored by the enthusiasm and knowledge in the Arts and Health sector. My background is in community arts and cultural development (CACD), starting out in North East Victoria in Community Centres with adult education programs over fifteen years ago and then moving onto arts and cultural roles in Local government in both regional Victoria and South Australia.
Espousing a flexible working environment, the Institute allows me to work from my home in the Barossa Valley, where I do absolutely get to enjoy some of the worlds best wine, great food and fantastic heritage. If you have never been to this part of Australia, stop whatever you are doing and come on over. I arrived here in 2009 for a two-year work contract and I am still here! And even though I work from home, I still get to enjoy the infectious energy of the Institute for Creative Health’s Executive Director, Emma O’Brien. Her energy, knowledge and passion for arts and health permeate across emails and down telephone lines, making for a very exciting and interesting role with the organisation.
My love for arts and culture defines not only my professional but also my personal aspirations and I have been fortunate to be involved with so many different projects over the years that have literally changed me. Arts and cultural activity provide opportunities for people to interact with all that is meaningful – challenging, communicating, celebrating and demonstrating who we are now and the stories that have brought us here. From festivals and events to strategic and evaluation initiatives, I have enjoyed the arts across all art forms and love creating projects which enable people to step outside their comfort zones and experience art and creativity in fun, meaningful and authentic ways.
I have worked in local government for ten years and whilst I appreciate people’s frustrations when dealing with governments, I believe most people who work in the public service genuinely want to support communities and people to be strong, happy and healthy. More recently I have worked in Sydney for national community arts and cultural development peak body, Creating Australia. It is a newly developed organisation that is working very hard to support CACD artists and practitioners and advocate for the sector. I finished up with them in January this year and was very pleased to commence with the Institute shortly thereafter and when I am not focusing on arts and health I am working for my own arts, culture and community development consultancy businesses, called Play Your Part.
I am thoroughly looking forward to working with the Institute for Creative Health and am really excited about the state based leadership groups we are developing. The National Arts and Health Framework is an impressive document – it represents the significant buy-in across governments and health based organisations nationally. I expect it will be extremely rewarding to now work with the sector nationally and roll out, this ground breaking policy document in a practical context. Lots of challenges but very exciting!!