Congratulations to the fourteen participants who have been selected for Front & Centre 2023 – a career coaching and professional development program for women and non-binary people with disability working in the arts, creative and cultural sectors across NSW, the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
This 10-month program aims to increase the representation of women and non-binary people with disability in leadership positions such as artistic directors, board members and senior positions in programming and management. Front and Centre is produced by NSW’s leading arts and disability organisation, Accessible Arts, with support from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Office for Women and with Victorian participants supported by Arts Access Victoria. The program is led by accredited specialist arts and creative leadership coach, Judith Bowtell of Albany Lane Consulting.
We’re really excited for the fourteen successful applicants of this valuable program and the role their experiences will play in helping shift the balance of representation in leadership roles in creative industries. Previous participants have gone on to achieve great things, and we look forward to seeing what our current participants achieve throughout this program and beyond.
We received a record number of applications for this year’s program and we would like to thank everyone who applied.
Front & Centre 2023 Participants
Amber is a multi-disciplinary musician, performing artist and producer. Amber has performed at Parramatta Lanes and The Plot Festival in NSW and completed an international poetry residency workshop in Greece performing new, original works. She starred in the short film ‘Hansel meets Gretel’ which was directed by Mohamed Farahat and selected for the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019. Most recently, Amber has taught songwriting, DJing & Turntablism at youth workshops for therapeutic beat making with Today’s Future Sound and she was selected to be part of a National Songwriting Project for Schools in 2022.
Bernadette is a cross disciplinary artist raising awareness of the risks posed by climate crisis. Blending fine art and documentary approaches, her art practice encompasses photomedia, video, painting and installation. She has a Master of Fine Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and in 2020 was selected for a Bundanon artist residency and featured in the 10th Canberra Festival of Art.
Jordyn is a writer renowned for emotionally charged works, crafting complex characters and vivid imagery to explore themes of identity, social issues, and the complexities of the human experience. Her unique perspective as a queer, deaf and disabled person adds a rich depth to her approach and practice as an artist. She completed an Advanced Diploma in Acting at the Academy of Film, Theatre, and Television and graduated with a MFA in Writing for Performance from NIDA. From 2019 to 2021, she was part of the Emerging Writers Group at Sydney Theatre Company and made her writing debut with ‘Ex Utero’, which was featured in STC’s virtual series. Currently, Jordyn serves as an Artistic Associate for Midnight Feast.
Katie is an interdisciplinary performance artist specialising in the forms of Dance, Theatre, Storytelling and Comedy to create site-specific, interactive and inclusive work. She is the founder of the Creative First Aid Alliance – which advocates for a creative placemaking agenda to deliver arts and cultural development programs for community wellbeing, social cohesion and recovery across the Northern Rivers region NSW in the aftermath of the devastating 2022 flood events. Katie is also the Community Engagement and Advocacy Officer at Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre and is passionate about ensuring the voices of artists with disability are heard and valued in the creative process.
Dr KJ Hepworth (they/them) is a disabled illustrator, information designer and design researcher. Their work focuses on identity-affirming themes, meeting access needs, and intersectional solidarity as entwined pathways to collective healing. They aspire to create and share experiences that contribute to cultures of wholeness by supporting courageous minds, soft bellies and open hearts. KJ is descended from settler-coloniser ancestors and lives and works on Ngarrindjeri Land.
Dr. Laura (Amara) Osweiler is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, producer and scholar from the USA now in Sydney, Cammeraygal land. As a Classic American belly dance and MENAHT folk dancer, Laura has performed as a soloist and in dance companies. She’s held long-term engagements in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Austin. For 15 years, Laura was the Director of Ya Helewa! Dance Company and regularly collaborates with dancers, dance/theatre companies, musicians and artists. Her current works interweave dance, movement, film, music, audio description and health and employs communication technologies to support access and engage with audiences in different locations.
Liv is a multidisciplinary designer who currently works and resides between Sydney (Gadigal Country) and Brisbane (Meanjin). Liv was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and many other co-morbidities at the age of 22. Since then, she has developed a passion for disability advocacy for behind-the-scenes workers in Film and Television after noticing a lack of representation in the field. Graduating from in 2020, she has since worked across stage, screen and spacial design. She has worked with a number of companies both internationally and locally, including Universal/NBC, Nickelodeon, Viral Ventures and The Australian Theatre for Young People.
Louise Cooper is a proud autistic woman deeply embedded in the practice of travelling Australia uncovering the unique stories of each place she visits. She uses this love of human geography, community arts and social history to develop geolocation games and augmented reality trails. Louise is also a stop motion animator, self-publishing author and homeschooling mum.
Michelle is a Newcastle based multidisciplinary artist who uses painting, sound and installation to create immersive works that explore the themes of human connection and perception, sensory overload and stimulatory behaviour, social alienation and longing. She holds a BFA in painting from the University of Newcastle where she received the vice chancellor award. In 2010, Michelle was awarded the $25,000 Marten Bequest Scholarship for painting. Gearin’s work has been exhibited in public and private galleries across Australia and is held in public and private collections internationally.
Michelle is a visual artist and a disability consultant for the arts. Her gestural paintings of wandering lines, flat and transparent colour are a response to living in arid remote landscapes on research trips to fully immerse herself in place. A cornerstone of her work is the ritual of making egg tempera and oil paint using the methods of the European Masters. As a disability consultant she works towards building an arts sector of greater inclusivity and diversity. Michelle was shortlisted for the Evelyn Chapman award 2020, completed a residency at Bundanon 2020 and she was shortlisted for the Lake Mac Arts Leader Award in 2021.
Prema Yin is an award-winning singer songwriter from Malaysia with a passion for interactive media. A graduate at the Australian Institute of Music for Music Production and Composition, her recent published projects include Dust, The Lies We Were Told, Yellow Face, My Younger Self, Noteworthy (podcast), Projection First Light and Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the future (documentary). She was nominated for the Sydney Theatre Awards for her sound design work in 2022. Prema also teaches in the early childhood education sector, combining her passion for music and education with the Ukebebe team.
R.R. Pascoe is a multi award-winning interdisciplinary artist, designer and arts educator best known for her wearable sculptures utilising salvaged and sustainable materials. Her work has featured in exhibitions in the US, UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as throughout Australia and NZ, and is held in both private and public collections including the permanent historical collection of the National WOW (World of Wearable Art) Museum.
Robyn is a British comedian and writer living with Crohn’s disease. Her one woman show ‘Cake’ was nominated for Best Comedy at Sydney Fringe Festival 2022. She was also shortlisted for the Emerging Writer Award (NIDA) 2022. This February, Robyn was one of the Artists in Residence for Brand X 2023. She will present her show ‘Cake’ at festival seasons in 2023/24.
Stephanie is a self-proclaimed lighting nerd who is passionate about all forms of the creative arts especially the written word and lighting. Stephanie aims to harness her over seven years with the film industry to broaden understanding of misrepresented communities. She is excited to meet other likeminded creatives and achieve new heights together.
Image description: A collage of headshots of the participants (from top left to bottom right): Amber Wilcox, R.R. Pascoe, Michelle Gearin, Prema Kavandan, Bernadette Smith, Liv Hutley, Stephanie Meyrick, Louise Coper, Katie Cooper Wares, KJ Hepworth, Robyn Reynolds, Michelle Teear, Jordyn Fulcher and Laura Osweiler.