First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeship Program Inspires New Roles for First Nations Peoples
HotHouse Theatre’s partnership with the First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeship program has inspired the company to create a new First Nations role for their trainee, proud Yorta Yorta woman, Tiffany Ward.
Tiffany was part of the First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeship program – an initiative of the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria delivered in partnership with ArtsReady.
HotHouse is an Australian Theatre company based in Wodonga, with a history of over 20-years presenting and creating theatre work.
The small company would not have been able to bring on a trainee without funding support from Creative Victoria.
“The program makes it affordable to have someone as a trainee. We wouldn’t be able to bring Tiffany on without that support, so that has been amazing. From this partnership we were able to create a First Nations role within the company that we’ve never had before, and since finishing her traineeship, Tiffany is now working with us part-time.” said Beck Palmer, Producer at HotHouse Theatre and Tiffany’s supervisor.
“The opportunity was wonderful, and we are so grateful. The process was smooth, and we were supported the whole way as was Tiffany. It was great that the program paired the trainee with a First Peoples mentor. They were rigorous with checking in and making sure things were going well. We were really appreciative of that and that really helped us as a company create the role for Tiffany to step into.”
Getting a foot in the door at an arts organisations can be difficult, so traineeship programs like this can create a pathway for young people to launch their career in the performing arts.
“It’s a fantastic in for a young person looking to work in the industry – we have seen Tiffany go from strength to strength and now she is doing amazing things in the theatre world.”
Tiffany previously completed a school-based traineeship at NAB with AFL SportsReady, so she was familiar with how the program worked. It was through her AFL SportsReady mentor, Ralph White, that she heard about the full-time traineeship at HotHouse Theatre.
“The connections I made in my traineeship were so important. If it wasn’t for Ralph I wouldn’t be where I am today. He was able to understand what direction I wanted to go into for my career. He knew I already worked in and alongside theatre productions, so he knew the opportunity at HotHouse was suited to me,” said Tiffany.
Tiffany started her traineeship as First Nations Producer at HotHouse Theatre in 2020 and studied a Certificate III in Business in 2021.
Before Tiffany joined HotHouse, she was a member of Black Border Theatre, a First Nations Theatre ensemble that is part of HotHouse Theatre. Working with Black Border exposed Tiffany to different areas within theatre.
“With the ensemble I did acting at one stage, I enjoyed it, but it was something that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue. I also got to work behind the scenes, but it was organizing and coordinating productions and that kind of thing that really interested me.”
While Black Border was sadly disbanded due to funding constraints, Tiffany was able to apply for funding to revive the ensemble.
Tiffany said that working with the Black Border Theatre ensemble was a highlight not only in her traineeship but also one of the greatest achievements in her life.
“I really gained so much in my traineeship that it feels surreal when I think about it. I learnt so many different skills from administration and budgeting to organising theatre productions. I got to work first-hand with First Nations communities as well as learning and understanding the protocols in the arts. It was an inspiring experience.”
Tiffany is currently working with Brisbane-based theatre company The Good Room on on a piece called ‘I’ve Been Meaning To Ask You’.
“I will be working as a Young Person Producer for this show. Right now, I am going through a process of auditioning the youth who may be featured in the production. From here I will continue to help with rehearsals and production working along side the team from Brisbane.
I will also continue to work with Black Border Theatre doing programs and I’m currently helping co-create a production that we will have in our 2022 season.
I’m working with a director based in Melbourne and a local Elder in Albury Wodonga to write a show based around the resettlement scheme that was in Albury and the Aboriginal people coming off the missions and reserves. With the support and recommendation of First Peoples mentor Brett Lee, I was able to apply for an arts grant funded through Footscray Community Arts and I was given the responsibility to research this history with the help of the community”.
For anyone thinking of taking on a traineeship, here are some words of advice from Tiffany:
“It’s an amazing opportunity and something that’s really beneficial in your career. Make sure you ask lots of questions to the educators and mentors because they are there to help and guide you and you can build strong relationships with them – not just professional but personally as well. Obviously for me building that relationship with Ralph has landed me in the position I am in today.”
In partnership with the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, ArtsReady is offering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples unique pathway traineeships with popular Victorian-based creative companies, through the new First Peoples Creative Industries Traineeships program. The program is a progressive initiative to allow young people the opportunity to get their career started in Victoria’s creative sector.
DATE: 04 February 2022
AUTHOR: Dakota McCarthy
PHOTO: Tiffany Ward