29 November 2019

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2019, we have been reflecting on the partnerships that have played a significant role in the success of our organisation, along with our role in the artistic landscape of South Australia. We are thrilled to have provided 25 years of guidance, support, and opportunities to our state’s emerging creatives and look forward to expanding our reach in 2020 and beyond.

To mark our silver anniversary, we decided to bring together some of those Helpmann supporters and the artists that have benefited from their generosity, to talk about the impact of the work that Helpmann does.

Director and screenwriter Stephanie Jaclyn and Helpmann Academy Patron, film director Scott Hicks first met when Scott mentored Stephanie through the Helpmann Academy Elevate Mentorship Program. Stephanie had just undertaken a Helpmann Fellowship in London and went on to receive a number of Helpmann regular grants to fund her short films, as well as a subsequent Elevate Mentorship with director Richard Jasek.

Stephanie believes that in investing in emerging artists, the Helpmann Academy are helping to preserve South Australia’s cultural identity.

“Organisations like the Helpmann Academy are absolutely crucial to the South Australian artistic landscape. We have such a strong, rich, cultural history here in terms of arts, and they help emerging artists today cultivate their careers and develop their skills so that they really are preserving the arts culture here for decades to come.”

Her mentor and Helpmann Patron, Scott Hicks laments that Helpmann wasn’t around as he was cutting his teeth as an emerging director.

“I wish there’d been a Helpmann Academy when I was sort of coming up or coming out of Flinders (University), in the sense that I think it creates tremendous opportunities for emerging, newly established and some more established artists as well, in the way of recognition of talent and through awards, grants, fellowships, and international residencies and things  that you couldn’t even dream of back in the day, when I was coming through.”

Actor Natalia Sledz connected with Kerry de Lorme, Executive Director of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation after Natalia landed one of the 2019 Helpmann Fellowships. Natalia travelled to New York to undertake a six-week summer acting intensive at the William Esper Studio. She believes that it is imperative for artists to seek out new creative experiences in order to evolve.

“I think the impact that Helpmann makes to South Australian artists is immense. Without Helpmann, so many of us wouldn’t be given the opportunities that we have here in South Australia. It just provides so many artists and so many different art forms and disciplines to be able to go off into the world and upskill. Especially in advanced skills that aren’t available here in South Australia. To have that impact on the South Australian arts sector is just amazing and it’s just creating so many opportunities for local artists which is really important.”

Valued at up to $20,000, the Fellowships are supported by the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation. Kerry believes that by investing in emerging creatives, the Helpmann Academy and their donors are helping to keep the arts sector healthy in South Australia.

“I see Helpmann making a significant impact in the lives of emerging artists because Helpmann helps them build a sustainable career, helps them realise their dreams and ambitions, and by perhaps fertilising an emerging artist’s career at the right time, is going to be very valuable for the arts sector.”

After visiting the British School at Rome institute while on holiday, David McKee AO and Pam McKee were inspired to support an artist to attend the residency through the Helpmann Academy. Their invaluable support has been ongoing since 2016. David feels that Helpmann are there to hold the hand of aspiring artists as they navigate through the transition from a supported school environment to making it on their own.

“It’s the transition, providing the tools that assist them in making those enormous dramatic changes. It’s not easy setting up your own practice and being on your own. So, I think it’s really holding the hands of artists and working hand in hand with them as they move forward.”

In 2018 visual artist Yusuf Hayat undertook the 3-month residency at the British School at Rome. While overseas he was able to expand his practice in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunity. Yusuf says that it takes a community to support an artist, and the Helpmann community is one he is very grateful for.

“It’s the space that the donors and Helpmann make available for me to contribute, for me to be able to put something back. I think that’s really empowering. I don’t think anyone does anything on their own, ever. I think we all owe something to someone else. Whether it’s ideas or opportunities. In this case, it is lots of opportunities and I owe it to the people that make it possible.”

To see videos of these interviews as well as interviews with other key supporters and artists, head to our giving page HERE.

Images: Scott Hicks and Stephanie Jaclyn. Kerry de Lorme and Natalia Sledz. David McKee AO and Yusuf Hayat. All photos by Harry Allwood.