YOUNG creatives want to see more opportunities in the south-west and a new program is aiming to do just that.
Regional Arts Victoria has announced the first round of young artists for the Creative Leaders program, 2021, from across the region from Warrnambool, through to Mortlake, Portland and Port Campbell.
Designed to inspire, inform and develop the creative aspirations of school-aged artists in the south-west, the program will match them with an industry mentor and develop skills and knowledge to help them take the next steps in their creative careers.
Minami Deguchi is a musician based in Warrnambool and is passionate about forging a career in music including performing, managing and writing his own material.
The 16-year-old is hoping to use his position on the program to mentor other regional young people.
"As someone who plays really heavy music I want to show younger kids who are interested in that how to develop their interest and what direction they can bring it in," he said.
"That was something that a lot of older people my age who played in heavier bands helped me with when I was around 12-to-13 and now I'm in a position to do the same.
"There's a lot of pub music out this way, and when The Loft shut down there was really no live music venues for bands that play in a heavier style.
"Local musicians - especially younger ones - don't become interested in heavy metal music because no venues are willing to showcase that kind of music, which leads to people not being interested in doing that kind of music.
"It's kind of sad considering that a few years ago before The Loft closed Warrnambool had a pretty good range of artists in that style, which really inspired people like myself to get into that music.
"There is the potential to have that again but we just need more people to help us do it, which is something I really want to do through the mentoring."
Minami is a versatile musician, having also just completed his AMEB classical piano exams alongside his heavy metal material.
The Emmanuel College student is helping organise contemporary bands at his school to strengthen the scene locally.
"I've been part of the Rock Academy Australia in Melbourne, a school holiday program for teenage musicians which has really helped me develop my skills and creativity.
"Being the only regional participant I've realised how important it is to have like-minded people together to learn from each other.
"I want to do that here, it's not a huge movement like getting live music back to Warrnambool, but trying to help young people interested in live music develop themselves at an early age.
"Maybe then the venues in Warrnambool will start to notice there's a lot of potential out there.
"Hopefully post-COVID people will start to realise what live music means and that even if it's a small local band they should support them, and see that live music is really worth its value and is really fun.
"Go to a live show, start learning an instrument, you'll see how much fun it is."
Also joining the program is Rose Deppeler, an artist based in Port Campbell with an interest in silver-smithing.
She's looking for knowledge and inspiration to get her to the next step in her practice.
She wants to make jewellery that challenges gender stereotypes and traditional boundaries.
"I want to make jewellery that anyone any age or gender can wear," she said.
"Toxic masculinity has led to males seeing jewellery as something that's feminine and that's not what it's about.
"I think jewellery should be an easier way to express yourself, it shouldn't matter who is wearing it.
"I'd like to think I can change that through my work and help push the boundaries.
"It isn't something that should matter but is a challenge living in small regional communities."
Caitlin Martin also joins the program and is a painter from Mortlake and wants to push her boundaries with her art and develop her knowledge of the arts through networks she might be exposed to.
She has been painting rural landscapes for four years and wants to take her work further.
"I use acrylic paints, mostly I paint cattle but have painted things that revolve around farming more broadly," she said.
"Through this program I probably want to go for something that's a bit out of my comfort zone, to push my boundaries and learn more from a mentor.
"I've found the scene sort of small down here, you get your regional art shows where people are able to show off their artworks but I haven't found a lot of other young people down here so I'm hoping to branch out a bit more."
Caitlin, 18, grew up on family beef farms at Ecklin and Mortlake, and now lives on a beef and dairy farm outside Camperdown.
She just finished Year 12 and hopes to pursue her art and agriculture studies after a gap year.
"Both sides of my family come from farming backgrounds so it's always been a part of my life.
"At this stage I'm pretty focused on going into something to do with farming and developing my art as well.
"Year 12 this year was interesting, the first part wasn't so bad but the second lockdown knocked me around with my learning and was a bit tough.
"My thing throughout it has been that there are many other ways to branch out, school's not your only option so there's no point worrying."
Meet the 2021 leaders:
- Minami Deguchi is a musician based in Warrnambool and passionate about forging a career in music including performing, managing and writing his own material.
- Rose Deppeler is an artist based in Port Campbell with an interest in silver-smithing, looking for knowledge and inspiration to get her to the next step in her practice.
- Anna Barker is a musician based in Warrnambool with an interest in composing. She's wants to know more about the professional music industry and what career paths might be open to her.
- Eliza McLachlan is based in Warrnambool and is interested in film, writing and visual arts. She's looking for guidance on where to focus her passion for the arts that she's had all her life.
- Josh Lee from Warrnambool is an artist who likes drawing and wants to learn how to progress his ideas and gain the knowledge of what it takes to be an artist.
- Caitlin Martin is a painter from Mortlake and want to push her boundaries with her art and develop her knowledge of the arts through networks she might be exposed to.
- Grace Moloney is a musician from The Sisters and has been playing for a lot of her life. She is looking forward to developing her capacity as a musician and learning the tips and tricks of making it in the industry.
- Destiny Bambridge is a photographer from Lismore and wants the opportunity to learn from others and meet like-minded people. She is interested in learning how to advance her practice with the aim to having a career in what she loves.
- Jorja Hermon is a dancer from Hamilton and is passionate about the arts and the impact is has on young people. She is interested to learn how to keep an arts practice going and is looking forward to hearing from industry professionals.
- Grace Silcock is a visual artist from Hamilton looking to learn how to develop and progress her skills as an artist. She's hoping to gain knowledge about what her options might be, in the Creative Industries.
- Levi Parker is a dancer, singer and actor from Portland. He is interested in learning how to develop a career in the performing arts and networking with like-minded people.
- Jaylen Merriman from Warrnambool has a passion to connect to his Indigenous culture through the arts, and to learn traditional ways of making art and telling stories.
The Creative Leaders project is funded through the VicHealth Everyday Creativity Program and supported by partners in the South West Creative Industries Strategy.
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