After a long stint as a freelance producer and writer, I’m pleased to be taking on a role at Arts Access Victoria starting this month.
I first worked with AAV in my role delivering Meeting Place, a three-day forum on access and disability arts which took place as part of Alter State Festival in 2022. It gave me some insight into the team and the vital ongoing work that they do. I had my sights set on finding an opportunity to work with them again after that experience, and I’m really excited to join them as a producer in a part-time role.
Being a disabled producer supporting other disabled artists to achieve their artistic goals is dream work, and I can’t wait to dig in.
I write about being a disabled person, artist and parent. It’s rare, though, that I get to work as a disabled producer putting together an event about disability and for the disabiity arts community. In producing Meeting Place I have finally been able to do this.
Meeting Place is Australia’s annual form on arts, culture and accessibility. It is held annually and brings Deaf, disabled and non-disabled artists with disability together with industry leaders in an accessible and supported space, to present, perform, discuss and debate the latest in arts and accessibility.
This year Meeting Place took place as part of Alter State Festival, presented in partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne and Arts Access Victoria. I was able to bring together artists and arts workers I have long admired such as Caroline Bowditch, Gayle Kennedy, Elvin Lam, Joshua Pether, Fayen D’Evie, Fiona Tuomy, Kath Duncan, Larissa MacFarlane, Meret Hassanen, Renay Barker-Mulholland, Robert K Champion and Eliza Hull for workshops, panel discussions and performances. I hope it was as enjoyable for the participants and audience as it was for me.
Another podcast? Yes! I’ve teamed up with two of my fellow coordinators at Yarra Plenty Regional Library – Sarah Schmidt and Patrick Jovaras – to create a podcast all helping readers through their reading conundrums.
The project grew from our Book Valet service, where library members fill in a short survey about their current reading habits and likes/dislikes and one of the YPRL team recommends some books we think they would enjoy. Sarah, Patrick and I found ourself marvelling at how differently we each approached the surveys; not once did we select the same books for a person, but we all came up with a range of titles that met the criteria our patrons set for us. We started dissecting the process of book recommendations and realised that the most enjoyable part for us was the debates (both internally with ourselves and then externally with our coworkers in the office) on finding the perfect book. To us, these conversations were fascinating, and we thought other readers and librarians would enjoy exploring the art of recommending the perfect read. Thus, In the Good Books was born.
Our trailer for the podcast is available to listen to now, and you can subscribe to the podcast in all your regular podcast listening apps and websites including Apple iTunes, Spotify, Podbean and Podtail.
When I finished up at the Centre for Youth Literature at State Library Victoria I promised myself (and my family) that I’d take six months off to recover from the burnout that came with doing a job where I had put 110% of myself into my work for so long (such is the joy of trying to balance working and managing a disability). The plan was to freelance while working from home, slowing down significantly and refocusing on my health.
I’m giving myself a mental high-five for lasting this long, but the right job at the right time has come up and now I find myself back in regular part-time employment. I’ve joined Yarra Plenty Regional Library working on a diverse range of events presented throughout their nine branches.
I’m chuffed to be working in a library service again as I really enjoy this area of literary programming. There’s a strong focus on delivering what is useful and valuable to the community, and I really enjoy audience-driven programming. The other reason I’m also pleased because this is the library service I grew up utilising. Eltham was my local library, and I spent a lot of time there after school, as well as at various other branches. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self that one day my job would be all about books, writing, reading and ideas younger me would have been thrilled. Let’s face it, older me is still pretty thrilled that this is my life.
The role is a maternity leave fill, so I expect to spend the next year at YPRL and am looking forward to seeing what I will learn in that time.