Curious creative community during COVID-19
Wednesday 22 July 2020
In this week’s edition of Polyglot Spot, Board member Sandra Robertson muses on the power of generosity during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, Marketing and Communications Coordinator Erica Heller-Wagner shares her great love of collaboration in Meet Polyglot, and artist Tamara Rewse remembers what drew her to Polyglot back when she first met Sue in 2004.
Are you connecting with your community in new ways during this strange time? Email email@example.com if you have a story or thought to share.
Considered commentary – Polyglot and beyond
Fundraising in a once-in-one-hundred-years health and economic crisis
Sandra Robertson, Board member
Every day the news headlines seem to get worse and worse. Coronavirus resurgence, rising unemployment and uncertainty about the future make these incredibly challenging times indeed. This is especially true for the arts sector; one of the worst-affected industries worldwide.
So it seems counter-intuitive that many not-for-profit organisations have just had amongst their most successful end-of-financial year fundraising appeals. But scratch the surface and we’re all being given a refresher course in a fundraising truism – altruism is at the heart of giving. People genuinely want to make a difference for organisations, people and ideas about which they are passionate. And organisations responding to this authentically are building ever-closer relationships with their supporters. Polyglot is one of them.
There’s a re-evaluation going on
Let’s face it, we’ve had lots of time during lockdown to reassess what’s important – health, friends and family, creativity and simple pleasures make us grateful now. And many of us who love live performance are missing it deeply.
There is a challenge to decision-makers to rebuild our economy and society to be better than it was – to invest in sectors that support employment, inclusion, sustainability and equality. The creative industries have a vital role to play in giving voice to these aspirations, and to making them a reality.
People care about the arts and want to see it survive and thrive
One of the few silver linings for the arts has been the significant media attention it’s received during the COVID crisis. More Australians are aware of economic importance of the sector, its contribution to health and wellbeing and central role in reflecting our sense of ourselves and our values. They are also more aware of the precarious, insecure employment patterns many artists face.
The relatively slow arrival of the Federal Government’s arts relief package, and the loss of four-year Australia Council funding by so many established organisations, has made many people consider that if they value the arts, they will have to take individual action to support those organisations and artists they care about. And that has been happening, sometimes in surprising ways. For example, despite the challenging times, 45% of Polyglot’s incredible donors who gave this year maintained or increased their support for the company from last year; and 47% were new or re-engaged donors.
Arts organisations are making a strong case for support
It’s more important than ever to be clear about the value you are providing as an artist or arts organisation, and to communicate the impact you are making in succinct, creative ways.
Polyglot has taken this to heart and offers these tips:
These are extraordinary times that offer extraordinary opportunities to foster genuine partnerships with supporters. Those that seize these opportunities to connect with honesty, empathy and a sense of humour – and leave behind the transactional mindset – will thrive and create the better world we are all hoping for.
Building a collection of memories to savour our history
Tamara Rewse, Artist
In 2004 I was studying Puppetry at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in the inaugural year of the course. We had some showings throughout the year, and at the end of one of these I had the opportunity to chat with Sue Giles. I remember Sue as being full of energy, warm, and a bit brave and risky. I think it encapsulated the shows she was producing as she paved the way for a new generation of interactive works for Polyglot. I remembered as a young artist really admiring her confidence and clarity and hoping that one day, I could perhaps have these qualities.
As a part of the course we went to see a site-specific Polyglot show at Stonnington Mansion in Toorak. It was probably unusual for Polyglot to make such huge puppets and they were certainly impressive! The audience stood outside, watching a 5-metre tall lady in a large dress swish past the grand windows. It was such a fun piece – you could draw your own interpretations as to what was happening within the grounds of this historical home. Mostly it was inspiring to see people working in the field, puppeteering for their job!
Sue spoke to me about being involved in some of Polyglot’s works, but for years it never lined up. Finally, I was able to come in and help create a new show and be exposed to the strong culture of child-led theatre and wonderful, wonderful artists! I think in Australia we survive by being diverse and imagining new ways of working and presenting, which is something that I have seen over the many years I have worked for this excellent company.
When I began working at Polyglot, I saw that big dress from the Stonnington Mansion show hanging in the store and felt humbled to be there as an artist making a new show. I have come a long way with Polyglot since that first meeting in 2004 and I know that after all these years some of those qualities from Sue and the culture of Polyglot have rubbed off!