Young artists get a ride in the fast lane
SIX young Australian artists will be in the running for a $ 10,000 prize package and a mentorship with one of the nation’s best creative professionals when Qantas launches its annual Spirit of Youth Awards this week ( July 21). The nation’s premier arts award for Australians aged 25 and under attracted 40,000 entries last year and has fast- tracked the careers of 30 artists since its inception four years ago.
With the money I won I went on to make an album called About the Truth, which has since done amazing things,’’ says musician Sarah- Jane Wentzki of Princess One Point Five, who won the music category in 2005.
It got me a national tour with two Aria nominees, more money to put into the next album and a couple of licensing deals. It also got me heaps of media exposure.’’
Other past winners have worked in Paris with celebrated industrial designer Marc Newson; expanded a fashion label into the Japanese market with the help of Peter Morrissey; toured overseas with international musicians; and exhibited their work nationally and abroad.
Spanning six categories - Photography, Pictures, Industrial + Object Design, Music, Fashion Design and Moving Image - the awards form part of the Qantas initiative Sharing the Spirit, which helps Australians realise their dreams, and are run in conjunction with national arts youth festival, NOISE.
nurture young Australian artists in their creative endeavours, says Qantas Group General Manager for Marketing, Neil Ross.
Qantas is committed to discovering and fostering young Australian talent in a diverse range of creative fields, and, through SOYA, can provide a major boost for young people wanting to achieve their goals.’’
Their contribution to the creative development of young Australians in turn adds to the cultural and economic value of Australia by ensuring our stories and creative products are exported to the world, he said.
Winners of SOYA 2007 will receive $ 5000 in cash and $ 5000 in flights, plus a mentorship with a leading creative industry professional like film director Phillip Noyce, fashion designer Peter Morrissey or art gallery director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor.
The cash and flight package helps winners on a practical level by providing a monetary injection to alleviate financial strain, record an album or tour overseas, and build a profile and confidence.
Fashion designer Lang Leav was able to travel to Japan after winning the fashion category in 2005, and as a result now sells her work there, under the label Akina.
I just knocked on a lot of doors in Japan and managed to meet the buyer for a chain of boutiques who bought my entire collection,’’ she says.
The 2006 winners in the music category, South Australians Wolf and Cub, were able to travel to Japan for a one- week tour as the support band for Wolfmother. The money came in handy because it was what determined whether we could go to Japan or not,’’ says lead singer Joel Byrne. The money made it happen, it made it a reality. It helped us promote our album in Japan and heightened our profile in the media.’’
Winning an award like SOYA also boosts your confidence and validates what you’re doing as an artist at a time when you’re vulnerable to setbacks, says Wentzki.
After winning SOYA, I started to take myself a little bit more seriously,’’ she says. Until then, I’d never really admitted I was a musician at all.
Someone believing in what I do, especially since it was really an experimental album, and for an amazingly big commercial producer to go Hey, I think this deserves to win’, is really amazing. It gave me faith in what I was doing.’’
However, it’s the mentorships that are proving really valuable. A mix of casual and more formal arrangements, such as a director’s attachment on the set of Phillip Noyce’s next feature film, Dirt Music, the mentorship programs help open doors and build networks and contacts, and show artists how to run successful businesses.
Increasingly, what we are hearing back from the artists is that the mentorship possibilities have been phenomenal,’’ says NOISE’s Sharon Longridge. It is a bit of a who- you- know game when it comes to ascending through the ranks of the arts and creative communities a lot of the time, and SOYA is a perfect entree to opening key doors at an important time in a young person’s career.’’
Leav’s mentorship with Peter Morrissey was particularly successful. Although largely unstructured - He gave me his details and said contact me whenever you need to’’ - the results of it were substantial: a Churchill Fellowship; an export business in Japan; industry contacts; and a clear business plan.’’
Learning about the business of design was also important for Ashley Marsh- Croft, who won the Industrial and Object Design category in 2006.
After working with mentor Marc Newson in Paris earlier this year, he secured a job at a product design consultancy in London.
I have had an insight into some very influential design studios and my business skills as well as my design skills are constantly being challenged and are improving as a result,’’ he says.
SOYA’s emphasis on professional success reflects the broader cultural environment in which many young Australians accept that, to make a living out of art, a degree of commercialisation is necessary.
Our experience is that the reason artists want to be on NOISE and want to be involved in SOYA is that they want to get work,’’ says Longridge.
It’s not a fluffy sideline agenda. It’s fairly front and centre.
They really want to do the work that they love doing and that’s being creative and often using technology, and if they can make a sustainable living out of that, which a lot of them seem determined to do, then that’s life working out.’’
he money enabled them to tour Japan and lift their
Director Phillip Noyce: Mentorships are a valuable experience for award winners
Wolf And Cub: 2006 winners in the music category, t profile