Lowdown Features Editor John Emery travelled to Brisbane in 1988 to cover the first Queensland Youth Arts Festival, coordinated by Michael and Ludmila Doneman of La Boite Theatre.
In the major eleven page feature ‘At the Frontier: John Emery in Queensland', Emery managed to not only profile some of the extraordinary energy and activity in Queensland youth arts during the Expo 88 year, but also bring to the surface friction and discontent within that community. In 1986 John O’Toole wrote in Lowdown of the crippling ‘Moralysis’ that was affecting Queensland schools performances, where conservative censorship ruled and arts and education funding was ‘at the direct whim of a patriarchy’. Emery found that while some things had progressed at an extraordinary pace, some things had stayed the same.
The list of interview subjects for this article was impressive: Mike Ahern, Premier and Minister for the Arts; Dona Greaves, Director, Arts Division, Queensland Government; Arthur Frame, Education Program Director, Queensland Arts Council; Sean Mee, Director, TN2! Theatre Company; Fiona Winning, Street Arts Collective spokesperson; Michael Forde, Artistic Director, Kite Theatre; Jim Vile, Artistic Director, La Boite Theatre; Michael Doneman, also of La Boite; Dr Cathy Brown, Queensland Performing Arts Centre; Christine Campbell, Roadwork TIE; and Mark Radvan, Co-ordinator, Theatre Arts Program, Kelvin Grove CAE, to name just a few.
The article is a fascinating document of Queensland youth arts at a key time in its history. With a generous sense of camaraderie, some of the country’s best contemporary artists and an exciting performance tradition beginning to emerge, Queensland youth arts practitioners still battled against a cautious and paternal touring network monopolised by the Queensland Arts Council, an arts funding infrastructure in its infancy and some baffling decisions at Ministerial level.
Read the full coverage here.
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