Message from Chief Executive Pat Swell

Pat Swell Photo
Pat Swell, CEO.

We have great news for you.  We have organised for Queensland to hold its first disability arts festival this year. Undercover Artist Festival will take place on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June 2015 at Queensland Theatre Company.  Leading up to the festival, from April to June, a new Theatre Ensemble will form, and a new Music Ensemble led by Annie Peterson with a master class by the legendary James Morrison. Dance Integrated Australia will run residencies in Moreton Bay and Brisbane. Auslan Stage Left will workshop with our Auslan interpreters.

All this is a direct response to so many of you who have consistently told me over the 2 ½ years I have been in post that performing artists deserve a comparable professional development program to our workshops for visual artists.  Additional funding from Arts Queensland, The Ian Potter Foundation, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Deaf Services Queensland, and partnership working with Queensland Theatre Company, Queensland Ballet, Queensland Music Festival, Metro Arts and InsideOutside Theatre Company, have made this possible. Enjoy!

And more good news. Australian Government through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has agreed to fund our work program with Indigenous people for a further three years through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. What great news for Access Arts members in 2015.

Message from President Thomas Bradley QC

Thomas Bradley QC photo
Thomas Bradley QC, President.

Wonderland RevisitedYou may remember that our Wonderland concert last November was postponed due to the hail storm that hit Brisbane a few days before the scheduled date.  As the Access Arts family met at Wonderland Revisited, there was a sense of deja-vu with Cyclone Marcia passing by.  Well, come rain, come storm, come hail, come whatever, the Access Arts members won through.  We shared the voices, the poetry, the lyrics, the music and the drama in performances by members of the Access Arts family, who showcased and celebrated the achievements of 2014.  It was an impressive display of talent, developed by hard work and attentive tutorship.   Congratulations to all our members who performed on the day.

Access Arts Singers
Access Arts Singers, Wonderland Revisited. Photo by Eduaro Vieira.

Our Patron, The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland and Mrs de Jersey, who were unable to attend, sent their best wishes for the event.  We also received a message of appreciation from the Honourable Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and Minister for Trade.I would like to record my particular thanks to Harmonie Downes for organising the highly successful event. I would like to add my compliments to those of many others who attended.

Indigenous Advancement Strategy

I was very pleased to hear from the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, that our application for funding through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy was successful.  We appreciate this support.  It means that Access Arts will be able to continue working closely with our indigenous partners on a stream of work that has been an important part of our program for nearly 20 years.

Undercover Artist Festival

You will read elsewhere in the newsletter about our performing arts push.  This year, our pilot project for performing artists will culminate in a disability arts festival called Undercover Artist Festival on 26 and 27 June 2015.

This is only the beginning of a six-year vision to develop a company of professional performing artists with disability, based in Brisbane, developing, producing and presenting a program of artistic work in Eastern Australia and  an international festival.

Building on our 32 years of experience and our existing capacity, we aim to grow career pathways for performing artists of the first rank who experience disability.  By 2022 we want to have established an extraordinary Brisbane-based company of performers with innovative theatre, music, dance and circus skills, supported by audiences looking beyond disability as they experience the joy and amazement of great art.

Of course, our important visual arts programs will continue and grow, under the continuing care of Rachel Gaffney-Dawson, Visuals Arts Coordinator.

AGM and the new board

Liz Crawford, Rachel Gaffney-Dawson photo
Liz Crawford and Rachel Gaffney-Dawson. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

Thanks to all the members whom attended or sent in proxies for the Annual General Meeting on 11 March 2015.  Susan Ball was re-elected as Secretary and Patrice McKay, Liz Crawford and Patrick Tyro-Burns were elected as ordinary members.Susan, who has an important role as the Client Services Manager of Muscular Dystrophy Queensland, has served on the management committee since 2013 and as Secretary since 2014.   Susan has applied her own extensive experience working with people with disabilities to help improve and develop person-centred policies and procedures for dealing with members and their individual needs.

Patrice joined the management committee after the AGM last year.  Patrice has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration.  With a strong management and board background in a number of different business enterprises and charitable organisations, Patrice has added to the pool of experience around the management committee.  Patrice also serves on the new finance sub-committee.

I am very grateful for the contributions of Susan and Patrice to the organisation and very pleased to welcome them back for another three years.

The first of our new management committee members, Liz Crawford, will be known to many members as a regular attender and strong supporter of Access Arts events. Liz is the National Practice Leader with KPMG, with tremendous experience in the field of executive selection and human resource advisory services. Liz was our host for the Living Flow exhibition at Riparian Plaza last September.

Since 2012, Liz has also convened Shadowbreakers, a group of like-minded people who combine capabilities and networks to contribute and service particular short-term needs of charities or not for profit groups. Liz previously served on the board of Contact Inc.

Last, but not least, Patrick Tyro-Burns brings to the management committee his extensive experience working within government in disability, mental health and other community services and as a consultant on health, ageing and human services.  He has been leading the social impact study on Access Arts.  Patrick has recently joined Life Without Barriers as their Executive Officer Operations for North and Western Australia.

Liz and Patrick will strengthen the management committee team in this important period as we undertake our performing arts push and prepare for the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Our Treasurer Catherine Black, ordinary members James Cunningham, Robert Hoge and Sam Nicolosi and me as President, who were elected last year, continue in our positions.

In May, the management committee will review our strategic plan at a half-day planning session with Hamish Doley of KPMG.  Any suggestions from members would be most welcome.

Some staff changes

Chris Collins, our new Finance and Office Coordinator, has taken over the reins from Jan Spinks, who retired last year.  Working closely with Treasurer Catherine Black, Chris and another new member of the team, Administrator Tina Porter, have further developed our financial systems, reporting, budgeting and controls.  On behalf of the management committee, I express our thanks to Chris and Tina for their work on these important matters.

I’m delighted to share with you that Harmonie Downes has been promoted to the position of Arts Administrator.  She will run our Community Arts workshop program and public showcase events.

Since the last newsletter, we have also welcomed our new Project Coordinator, Tim Brown.  Tim has a strong background in dance and choreography with Queensland Ballet, Expressions Dance Company and has worked with the Australian Ballet.  He is an experienced producer and director and a great addition to the Access Arts team.

Many of you will know that Belinda Locke has relocated to Melbourne.  The great news is that Belinda will remain part of Access Arts as our Festival Director for our Undercover Artist Festival to be held on 26 and 27 June this year.

Melanie Fawcett has joined the Access Arts team as Marketing Coordinator.  Mel is a media specialist, a writer, an educator and a producer, with qualifications and experience in communications, film and television.  It is great to have Mel on board.

Undercover Artist Festival

At Undercover Artist Festival emerging and professional artists with disability are out and proud.  We’re here to show Australia what we’ve got.

New in 2015, Access Arts presents Undercover Artist Festival at Queensland Theatre Company from Friday 26 – Saturday 27 June 2015.

Artists from across Australia will showcase their work at a festival accessible to all artists and audiences.

The festival will feature theatre, dance, music and circus performances, works-in-progress, installation art, short film screenings, roving performances, and forums.

Like art that bends the rules? This is the place to be in June.

Artist applications closed this week and we will be unveiling the program of events very soon….

For further information on the Undercover Artist Festival, please contact Belinda Locke, Festival Director, on (07) 3254 9585 or

Performing Arts 2015

I am delighted to be working in such a vibrant and welcoming organisation. I have been very lucky to have been handed an excellent portfolio of exciting programs from Belinda Locke, our Festival Director, who has been able to facilitate opportunities for professional and emerging artists to showcase their work in June.

I have hit the ground running with rehearsals of our local and talented members who will be presenting excerpts of new theatre and cabaret performances. The highly acclaimed, magical jazz keyboard artist Jeff Usher will be performing in collaboration with our member Karen Roberts who has written an astonishing new cabaret show It’s Not Easy Being Green,  based on the themes of mental wellness. Karen is currently being directed by one of Queensland’s greatest treasures to cabaret, Sandro Colarelli. Sandro is an award-winning Australian actor/singer and contemporary performance maker. Also creating waves this month are our new Theatre and Music Ensemble groups. These groups are set to thrive under the inspiring guidance of Margi Brown Ash, Daniele Constance, Annie Peterson and Harmonie Downes. We are thrilled to have our highly specialised team on board to lead our Theatre and Music ensembles to new creative heights. Our Music Ensemble is also looking forward to an exclusive workshop with Australia’s cherished jazz musician, James Morrison.

Finally, we are very excited to be working in partnership with InsideOutside Theatre on our Dance Integrated Australia Residency in the Moreton Bay Region. InsideOutside Theatre will be hosting our guest dance and choreographic artist Philip Channells who directs Dance Integrated Australia, and will be developing a new work for our Festival involving fresh new dance artists who will work with Philip and his artistic associate, Brisbane-based Sam Leahy. Philip and Sam will then run a dance residency in Brisbane just prior to the Undercover Artist Festival. Check our website and Facebook for details.

For further information on Performing Arts, please contact Tim Brown, Project Coordinator, on (07) 3254 9585 or

SAFE Grants 2015

In 2007 singer/song-writer Peter Vance provided funding for Access Arts to establish the SAFE grant scheme. Peter chose the name SAFE as an acronym of ‘Sacred-Angel Arts Funding Empowerment’ – Sacred Angel after Angiosarcoma, the cancer that took his beloved wife, Marilyn. Grants are up to $1,000 each.

Supported by a SAFE grant, circus artist Racheal Missingham travelled to Sydney to attend the Australian Theatre Forum (ATF) 2015, part of Sydney Festival. The Australian Theatre Forum was implementing a ‘Deaf Access’ project in partnership with Arts Access Victoria, which included providing interpreters and mentorships to ensure deaf artists and arts workers could access the forum to its full potential. Representing Queensland as a Deaf theatre maker at ATF 2015 allowed Racheal to identify and bring back innovative ideas that can strengthen Queensland arts organisations. The SAFE grant gave Racheal the opportunity to attend a national forum to share and exchange ideas, skills and knowledge with other artists and arts workers, and helped explore how social cohesion can be strengthened in the performing arts. Racheal is at a significant stage in her arts career. She said the ATF 2015 experience helped her development as a circus artist and arts worker, and also strengthened and empowered her in mentoring deaf and disabled artists.

Professional Development for Artists

Did you know that Access Arts has a professional development program for emerging and professional artists? The program is open to artists working in any artform who live in Queensland and identify as experiencing disability.

We run mentorships as part of the professional development program, offering eight sessions with an expert in your field of practice. Additional support such as assistance in identifying opportunities and grants is also available. The cost of the professional development program is $50 for the year.

For more information about SAFE grants or the Professional Development program contact Tim Brown, Project Coordinator, on or phone on 3254 9585 (local call 1300 663 651).

Term 2 Community Arts Workshops

Our members were extremely productive in term 1. The program included performances by the Access Arts Singers, song-writing workshops for our event Wonderland Revisited and a great deal of artwork made in our two visual arts workshops. We have another exciting term of workshops ahead. We look forward to seeing you at our term 2 workshops from April onwards!

Visual Arts – Explore Artforms

This is an expressive arts workshop where participants are given the opportunity to practice art and creativity in an individualised way.  Members will be able to choose from many mediums and surfaces as they explore various artforms in a relaxed group setting.

Term 2: 22 April – 10 June (8 weeks)
Day/Time:  Wednesdays, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Venue:  Access Arts Studio, SWARA – 101 Park Rd, Woolloongabba
Cost:  $75 per term, to be paid to Access Arts office or in Week 1
Facilitator:  Artist, Felicity Kelly-Cruise
Support Worker:  Saskia Levy

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Visual Arts – Extend Your Skills

This workshop is designed to offer our members an opportunity to further develop areas of creative practice that are of particular interest to them.  With access to various mediums and surfaces, members will be supported to work on project style pieces throughout the term.

Term 2:  23 April – 11 June (8 weeks)
Day/Time:  Thursdays, 10.30am – 12.30pm
Venue:  Access Arts Studio, SWARA – 101 Park Rd, Woolloongabba
Cost:  $75 per term, to be paid to Access Arts office or in Week 1
Facilitator: Artist, Felicity Kelly-Cruise
Support Worker:  Anthea Patrick

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Extend Your Skills workshop.  Photos by Saskia Levy.

Access Arts Singers

Access Arts Singers is a workshop facilitated by renowned artist Annie Peterson. Participants are taught vocal techniques and explore different, fun ways of creating harmony. Each term the group work on new songs to perform at Access Arts showcase events and other community concerts and festivals. No experience is needed, all are welcome!

Term 2:  23 April – 11 June (8 weeks)
Day/Time:  Thursdays, 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Venue:  New Farm Neighbourhood Centre, 967 Brunswick St, New Farm
Cost:  $75 per term, to be paid to Access Arts office or in Week 1
Facilitator:  Artist, Annie Peterson

The Access Arts Singers with Annie Peterson
The Access Arts Singers performing at Wonderland Revisited led by Annie Peterson.








Drumming Workshop

Participants will learn different skills and techniques on various drums and percussion instruments, exploring a range of rhythms and musical patterns. No experience required – all are welcome in the Drumming Circle!

Term 2: 24 April – 12 June (8 weeks)
Day/Time:  Fridays, 11am – 1pm
Venue:  SWARA – 101 Park Rd, Woolloongabba
Cost:  $5 per week
Facilitator:  Drummer and percussionist, Nicky Perry
Support Worker:  Saskia Levy

Drumming Circle Term 1 2015
Drumming Circle Workshop group image. Photos by Saskia Levy.


For further information on the Community Arts Program, please contact Harmonie Downes, Arts Administrator, on (07) 3254 9585 or

Visual Arts Professional Development 2015

Andrew Pemberton Exhibits in L’Arche International Jubilee Art Exhibition

Congratulations to Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio member Andrew Pemberton, who recently had his painting Reef Fish selected to be shown in the French L’Arche International 50th Jubilee On-line Art Exhibition. L’Arche is an international movement of 146 communities in 35 countries with a unique vision of care giving and community building that fosters inclusion, understanding and belonging. To view the on-line gallery visit

Andrew Pemberton_ Fish Painting REEF FISH (1)
Reef Fish painting by Andrew Pemberton.
Suzanne Camlin_ Floating Free
Floating free painting by Suzanne Camlin.








Suzanne Camlin to Exhibit at Albany Creek Library

Congratulations to Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio member Suzanne Camlin who will exhibit a collection of artworks at Albany Creek Library for the month of April.  Through her art practice Suzanne explores themes of light and dark, nature, fantasy and mystery.

When:  Thursday 2 – Thursday 30 April 2015
Where:  Albany Creek Library, 16 Ferguson Street, Albany Creek
Opening Hours:  Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9am – 5pm Tuesday & Friday 9am – 8:30pm
Saturday 9am – 1:30pm Sunday closed
Cost:  Free

Levi Diball and Irene Martin-Miller to Exhibit in AFTM Emerging Artists Exhibition

In 2014 BOA member Levi Diball and BOA regional member Irene Martin-Miller were recipients of the Art from the Margins Emerging Artists Award. As part of this award the artists will each show a selection of recent artworks at Graydon Gallery in the month of April.

When:  Wednesday 8 – Sunday 12 April 2015
Where:  Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Road New Farm
Opening Hours:  10am – 5pm daily
Cost:  Free

Irene Martin-Miller_Hymenosporum Flavum Australian native frangipani
Hymenosporum Flavum Australian Native Frangipani painting by Irene Martin-Miller.
Dion Halse_Garden of Psychedelia
Garden of Psychedelia painting by Dion Halse.








BOA Members Exhibiting in MIFQ Exhibition

Several BOA studio members and a selection of regional members have submitted artwork to be shown in the annual Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland Exhibition. Exhibiting artists include: Andrew Pemberton, Michael Mulvey, Peter Hughes, Lisa Blake, Alex Crombie-Van Ewyk, Tanya Darl, Belinda Peel, Suzanne Camlin, Dion Halse, George Delaney and Stephen Corti-Griffiths. This year the exhibition is themed Hope in the Present.

When:  Thursday 14 – Tuesday 19 May 2015
Where:  King George Square, Brisbane City
Opening Hours:  To be confirmed
Cost:  By gold coin donation

For more information on the Visual Arts Program contact Rachel Gaffney-Dawson on (07) 3254 9585 or

Wonderland Revisited 21st February 2015

Access Arts presented an afternoon packed with entertainment at Wonderland Revisited.  The Queensland Multicultural Centre lit up with an impressive exhibition from the Camera Wanderers, Brisbane Outsider Artists and some works from the Community Arts program. It was great to see such an impressive display, with some artworks sold and going to new homes.


Jack Murphy
Jack Murphy, Wonderland Revisited. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

Jack Murphy did an excellent job as MC. The event was officially opened by our President, Thomas Bradley QC.The Access Arts Singers performed a mix of songs including a lively rendition of The Beatles song Here Comes The Sun, a few traditional numbers Vuma and Calypso, a Bernard Fanning cover Watch Over Me, and the last song penned by choir member David Truong, Wild Wind.






Damian Stewart
Damian Stewart, Wonderland Revisited. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

Damian Stewart accepted long term member Bill Thomas’s invitation to read his poem Wonderland, based on the TV series currently airing its 3rd season, which Damian delivered with an expressive and dynamic zest.Peter Vance spoke about the essence of Access Arts and the joy of being an artist. Peter welcomed Tanya Darl to the stage to speak, as her entry to the first Access Arts Achievement Award in 2014 was Highly Commended.Peter was then joined by the music group Tsou, meaning ‘the sum of us’, who sang Wonderland, a song written by the group for the occasion.





Karen Roberts
Karen Roberts, Wonderland Revisited. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

Karen Roberts’ monologue What The Table Is For simply stunned the audience with her sublime, evocative and at times jovial theatre piece adapted from Shauna Niequist’s memoir Bread and Wine. Though the piece was not originally intended for theatre it lent itself beautifully to the stage, and Karen translated it skilfully into a dramatic presentation.






Jan Spinks
Jan Spinks, Wonderland Revisited. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.

After an official farewell to Jan Spinks from Pat Swell, the audience retired to the foyer for light refreshments and music by Damian Stewart on keys. Even the weather cleared up for us and everyone enjoyed the rest of the afternoon before returning safely home.







Troy Little
A Water Wonderland painting by Troy Little.








Harmonie Downes
Arts Administrator

ALLtogether 22nd March 2015

Despite the rain we huddled at our stall. Belinda Peel, Alex Crombie Van-Ewyk, Lisa Blake and Tanya Darl, members of our Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio, facilitated and ran art workshops throughout the day. We made dragonflies, butterflies, planes, mermaids, colourful decorations with mixed media painted on unstretched canvas and had a go at a Mr Squiggle themed activity.

Workshop photo
From left to right: Belinda Peel, Tina Porter, Lisa Blake, Genevieve Jackson, Alex Crombie Van-Ewyk and Anthea Patrick.
canvas workshop
The Brisbane River being decorated, led by Tanya Darl.










Richelle Spence, as the Human Piñata, emerged from her costume’s outer layer with the help of the audience who rallied together by pulling strings to release her and reveal a beautiful butterfly inspired dress.

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Richelle Spence performs Live Art with Human Pinata, during and post-performance.

AJ Cabaret delivered a cheeky satirical narrative nicely woven through their performance. Alicia Steele whipped up a great rendition of Ashes to Ashes originally sung by David Bowie and other classics such as Bare Necessity, which enthralled the audience.

AJ Cabaret_2
AJ Cabaret, from left to right: Johnny Hucker, Alicia Steele and Gary Nunn.








Newcomer Donnelle Brooks brought a softer angle to David Truong’s Ambition Road project, both joining in each other’s original songs.

Donnelle and David - Ambition Road
Ambition Road, from left to right: Donnelle Brooks and David Truong.








Harmonie Downes
Arts Administrator

We believe in YOU - Thoughts on Access Arts

ACCESS ARTS — the choice is yours!
Access Arts creates ways in which those of you living with impairment, illness or conditions, or who experience disadvantage:
 can experience creative empowerment
 can pursue your artistic dreams
 can exercise your artistic abilities
 can have artistic options
 can have sustainable arts practise
 can have creative independence
 can have support towards your chosen artistic pathways
 can access the arts in a range of ways. Have options for accessing the arts.

ACCESS ARTS — because we do give a damn!
Access Arts creates and advocates for ways in which you are given:
 respectful exposure
 fair and critical recognition
 career development opportunities
 skill development training, and
 material and moral support.

ACCESS ARTS – believe!
Access Arts does this because we believe in…
 the rights of all people to equal opportunity in the arts
 addressing balance and imbalance when and where necessary
 the arts being of paramount importance in our society
 the value of diversity in cultural expression
 the value for all of society of the cultural expression of people living with impairment, illness or other conditions, or those who experience disadvantage.

We believe in YOU!

Sheryl Sandy and James Cunningham
Sheryl Sandy and James Cunningham. Photo by Eduardo Vieira.








James Cunningham
Management Committee Member