December 2014 Newsletter

17th December, 2014

Message from Chief Executive Pat Swell

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! As we end 2014 and look forward to 2015, we have many things to celebrate:

  • Are you a performing artist? Then the hot news for YOU in 2015 is that we are developing new opportunities in theatre, music, dance and “behind the scenes” for you to grow your practice.
  • November saw Cairns-based performing artist Doug Robins win our inaugural Access Arts Achievement Award. The submission from Brisbane-based visual artist, Tanya Darl, was highly commended. Competition was fierce, and it was a hard call for the judges…
  • Wonderland Revisited will feature in our January newsletter. Although we had to postpone staging Wonderland in November due to storm damage, we won’t let weather stop you seeing our artists’ fabulous work.
  • Congratulations to our President who has been asked to join the Council of the National Library of Australia.

We have a great program. Renew you membership and join us for another action-packed year in 2015

Message from President Thomas Bradley QC

Congratulations Doug Robins – Access Arts Achievement Award Winner!

I must begin by congratulating Doug Robins, the winner of the inaugural Access Arts Achievement Award. The Award provides funding of up to $10,000 for Queensland artists, arts workers and producers with disability working in any art form to create, develop, present, produce, exhibit or tour their work.

Doug is a highly talented actor based in Cairns. He plans to use the Award on a project to develop a contemporary Hamlet, adapted by playwright Kathryn Ash, in conjunction with JUTE Theatre, in which Doug will star.   Northern audiences may get a glimpse of the new work as early as March 2015, in its creative development phase when it may be staged as part of JUTE’s New Works Department productions.

Doug was among a very impressive field of candidates for the Award. We are very proud of the high standard of applications received in the Award’s first year.

I would like to express our appreciation to the panel of judges who gave generously of their time: filmmaker, writer and Archibald Prize winning painter Davida Allen; opera/jazz singer, producer and entertainment agent Janelle Colquhoun; KPMG National Practice Leader Liz Crawford; author Robert Hoge; and Chris Kohn, until recently Artistic Director and CEO of La Boite Theatre Company.

Our very special thanks to Life Member Peter Vance for his financial support, which has made it possible for us to offer this Award each year for five years to enable a Queensland artist with disability to make a significant leap forward in their career.

Doug Robins’ visit to Brisbane to receive the award coincided with one of the fiercest hailstorms of the century. Flood damage to BEMAC prevented the formal ceremony proceeding as planned. Doug accepted the award from Access Arts CEO Pat Swell and was able to use his time in Brisbane to visit Queensland Theatre Company and La Boite.

Wonderland to welcome 2015

The hailstorm also postponed our end of year community showcase Wonderland. It will now open our 2015 year. I hope to see many members there on stage and in February – date TBC.

Late Christmas shopping opportunity

If you hurry into the CBD, you may have time to purchase a contemporary masterpiece from our Living Flow exhibition at KPMG’s offices on Level 16 of Riparian Plaza, showcasing artwork by the Brisbane Outsider Artists and the Camera Wonderers. The exhibition continues until Tuesday 16 December.

Season’s Greetings

How quickly the year has passed and what a year it has been! I would like to thank all our talented and committed staff for their contributions during 2014. Special thanks to Jan Spinks, who is retiring at the year’s end, to Georgia Smith, who moved to an important role in the Premier’s office, and to Eddie Fitzpatrick, who relocated to the UK.

I wish our members and supporters all the best for the Christmas Season and the New Year.

Congratulations, Mr President!

Senator the Hon George Brandis MP, Attorney General and Minister for the Arts, has just announced the appointments for the National Collecting Institutions. The Ministerial press release said “Mr Thomas Bradley QC will join the Council of the National Library of Australia, providing valuable high-level legal expertise to the Council. Mr Bradley is currently a barrister in private practice at the Queensland Bar and is President of Access Arts.” Congratulations, Mr President!

Honouring our late President, Liz Navratil

Our late President, arts advocate Liz Navratil, is honoured on Arts Queensland’s Culture Champions Wall of Fame online here:

Another way Liz, who passed away a year ago, is remembered is through the Scarlet Stiletto national crime writing competition. To commemorate her memory, Sisters in Crime Queensland have established the Liz Navratil Award for the ‘Best Story with a Disabled Protagonist’.

Access Arts Achievement Award Announcement!

In the words of Susan Ball, Secretary of the Management Committee

It was with great elation that Doug Robins has been awarded as the inaugural winner of the 2014 Access Arts Achievement Award.  Doug is a performer who earlier this year was supported by JUTE Theatre Company in Cairns to produce Propelled. Doug, who is 26 and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, expressed his coming of age “as a tricky business, especially when you’re on wheels and life keeps throwing roadblocks at you”. He was to be presented with his Award at the showcase event Wonderland on Saturday 29 November.  However, only 48 hours before the event, Brisbane was hit by a very ferocious storm that caused extensive damage.  The news by Friday afternoon was that the event would not proceed due to storm damage to the venue.

Pat Swell, CEO of Access Arts, was keen for Doug to receive his Award from Access Arts’ Patron, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, who was to have presented it to Doug at the Wonderland event.  However, with the change of circumstances, Pat requested a personal opportunity for Doug to meet the Governor and be presented at Government House

Friday afternoon.  Alas, more frustration when, with all the will in the world and with many phone calls for a maxi taxi, the two hour window was gone.  This was another harsh reminder of what people with disability face every day.   However, not to be beaten, standing in the street the CEO of Access Arts graciously and proudly presented Doug Robins with his Achievement Award.

We will mark Doug’s achievement in winning the Award officially at Wonderland Revisited on Saturday 21 February 2015.

Message from Access Arts Achievement Award Winner Doug Robins

I’m ecstatic to win such an award especially with all the inspiring work I know other performers and artists with disabilities are involved in across Queensland, including Cairns’ own inclusive community theatre group Tropical Arts, with a large contingent of their actors having disabilities.

The money from the award will go towards a creative development I’ll be involved in next March at the JUTE Theatre, which has been a staunch supporter of mine for many years.

Tanya Darl, whose submission was Highly Commended

I will use this award to undertake a self-organised artist residency, resulting in my first solo exhibition. Additionally the funds will be used for professional development in undertaking my first curated group exhibition. These outcomes will greatly enhance my artistic career and see the achievement of significant milestones otherwise unobtainable without financial assistance.

These activities will assist in the development of a series of work surrounding the concept of visually exploring five elements: wind, water, fire, plants and earth, “Five Elements”. Working in situ across a range of environments will allow me to capture these elements in large scale works and respond directly to the experience of these terrains. The terrains I have identified for this series include: Alexander Headlands, Binna Burra, Stokers Siding, Moreton Bay and Brisbane.

Through undertaking my first solo exhibition I will extend my artistic practice and further develop the market for my work. By exhibiting at Graydon Gallery I will reach new audiences and markets for my work. The financial support from this grant will enable me to utilise high quality materials which would otherwise be cost prohibitive.

The development of a curatorial project will enable me to continue to work with other artists with disabilities. The proposed exhibition ‘Within Without’ will provide the opportunity to develop skills relating to arts administration and curation. The exhibition will allow artists to express themselves through responding to the theme in a personal or generic manner. Exhibiting at Graydon Gallery will highlight the work of artists with disabilities towards mainstream art audiences.

I would like to thank Bruce Heiser’s gallery staff for their help in applying for this award; I couldn’t have received the highly commended award without your help and support. I would also like to thank Peter Vance for his contribution toward this award, and in particular artists with disabilities – go Pete! It is much appreciated.

A Judge’s Perspective

Liz Crawford, National Practice Leader at KPMG, speaks of her experience as one of five judges of the Access Arts Achievement Award

The Access Arts Achievement Award was announced by Minister Ian Walker at the opening of the Colours of Change exhibition at KPMG in October.  The award is made possible by a generous donation from Access Arts Life Member, the very talented Peter Vance.  Peter, a singer, songwriter and producer of note, is donating $10,000 a year, this year and for the next four years, to make this award possible.

The award provides funding for Queensland artists, artsworkers and producers with disability working in any form to create, develop, present, produce, exhibit and/or tour their work.  Entries opened on 19 September 2014 and closed on 18 October 2014. A total of 19 entries were received, covering a range of artforms and approaches to how the award would be used.

I was fortunate enough to be on the panel of judges, consisting of a group of people very talented in their own right. The overall high quality of the entries made the judging process both interesting and challenging.  As a first stage, we each individually worked through the applications to assess each project’s artistic or cultural merit and innovation, opportunity for professional development and project viability.  This resulted in a ranking of all entries. We then met as a group and worked to gain agreement on the top 10 entries in the ranking.  Next we worked through each of the shortlisted entries and discussed its merits.  Following some lively discussions, the shortlist was reduced to three.  This was when the fun really started!  After some animated debates, with each judge defending his/her perspective of the entry, we finally arrived at two finalists.

This required further in-depth discussion of how the entry addressed the selection criteria, and the impact the award would have on the entrant’s career.  We finally agreed on the winner: Douglas Robins, a performing artist from Cairns and member of the committee of Tropical Arts, a local community based inclusive performance organisation.  Douglas also has a mentorship role at a local disability support service to help performers with a disability express themselves and reach their artistic goals.

Douglas proposed to work in partnership with JUTE Theatre in Cairns to produce Hamlet, playing the lead role himself.  The award would fund a week-long creative development process in March 2015, bringing together a group of arts workers involved in various aspects of performance and visual arts. To adapt Hamlet to modern sensibilities, the activities will acquaint the actors with their character’s motivations or complications and action objects.   Focus will be given to the manner in which the characters interact with each other, e.g. Hamlet and Ophelia, to analyse and prepare fresh movement and gesture.

Douglas articulated how “our adaptation and modern perspective should aim to add new insights for actors and audiences alike.  Hamlet suffers injustice physically and though the perceptions of others. As a person with a disability it is important to share with younger people with disability that there are many types of suffering, injustice and struggle and these are not limited to the disabled community.  This understanding is crucial to the psychological well-being of PWD as in my experience we thrive by being expansive and looking outwards rather than looking inwards”.

It was this combination of artistic merit, passion, the impact on Douglas’ career and the promotion of the community of actors with disability that led to the selection of Douglas’ entry as the winner of the inaugural Access Arts Achievement Award.

Art is making a difference!

By Peter Vance, Singer-song-writer and Access Arts Life Member

Last term I was delighted to visit several Access Arts workshops where members were exploring the theme ‘Wonderland!’ At each workshop I was made most welcome and was asked would I like to draw, sing, even take a photo! Wow, I thought… me?

Yes I did have a go and learnt so much about: painting in 3-D using the colours of the rainbow with Troy and Felicity at SWARA; singing harmony in “Here Comes The Sun” with Chrissy and Annie at New Farm; and capturing reflections with my iPhone at Southbank with Magda and Louis. Thank you Access Arts members for accepting me and my art.

Other highlights for me this term were related to the inaugural Access Arts Achievement Award: the launch with Arts Minister Ian Walker at KPMG; the grant-writing workshops for applicants with Linda Dreghorn, Arts Queensland; our judging panel assessing the 19 applications from across the state; and then finally last week the announcement of the Winner Doug Robins, a performing artist from Cairns, and a Highly Commended applicant Tanya Darl a visual artist from Brisbane. I am very excited about their project proposals and wish them every success for delivery in the New Year.

The Access Arts Achievement Award is building on the success of Access Arts SAFE fund grant scheme which over the past 5 years has assisted over 30 members to take their next step in the arts. It is my dream that over the next five years something similar may happen with this new Award so that several Access Arts Achievement Awards can be made each year.

Just like the Wonderland Workshops made time and space for me to be creative and tell my story, I do hope that you will join with me in supporting Access Arts and truly celebrate that “Art is making a difference”!

Membership for 2015

It’s that time of year again! All memberships expire at the end of 2014, so do join up for 2015! At $10 for individuals, that’s a real bargain! Membership sign-up details and benefits are on our website at:

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.

Other donors have contributed to the fund which enables Access Arts to make 6 awards of $1,000 a year. Access Arts’ SAFE grants provide fast, flexible assistance to emerging and professional artists living in Queensland who experience disability. These grants have helped talented Queensland artists to further their practice.

Professional Development

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 art form 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 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 Belinda Locke, Project Coordinator, on or phone on 3254 9585 (local call 1300 663 651).

Farewell to Jan Spinks

When I finish work for the Christmas and New Year holiday in two weeks’ time I feel sad as I realise I will not be returning to work with Access Arts in 2015. After ten and a half very rewarding years I am retiring. During these years I have been fortunate to have worked with many dedicated, passionate staff members, volunteers and management committees who form a great team to provide amazing programmes and support for our members.   I have great memories of the many member exhibitions, showcases and end of year events I have attended. The artworks and performances created by our members are fantastic.   As someone whose artistic skills are limited I greatly admire the talents of our members and I feel very privileged to have met so many great artists.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I am sure I will wonder what is happening in the office and which members have arrived to attend Camera Wonderers.

I will look forward to receiving my newsletters and keeping up to date with the happenings at Access Arts.   I wish Access Arts every success in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to expand my knowledge and life skills and I take with me the fondest memories of my time at Access Arts.

A warm welcome to Chris Collins

Chris Collins joins our team as Finance and Office Coordinator. Chris has worked for non-profit organisations for several years as finance officer and as a coordinator and previously to this worked as a practice manager in the medical industry.  Personally she enjoys music, plays the clarinet and sings in her church choir.  She also enjoys gardening, reading and travelling.  She is looking forward to the day when she is able to spend more time with her grandchildren and also to travel around Australia and see every part of this great country.

Performing Arts Professional Development NEW in 2015

In 2015 Access Arts will launch a brand new program of professional development opportunities for performing artists in the areas of theatre, dance and music.

Theatre Ensemble

Our first announcement is a theatre ensemble, which will meet weekly at Queensland Theatre Company, and will create an original performance through collaboration under the guidance of facilitators Margi Brown-Ash and Danielle Constance.

Term 1: 3 February – 24 March (8 weeks)
Day/Time:  Tuesdays, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Venue:  Rehearsal Room 2, Queensland Theatre Company, 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane
Cost: $100 per term, to be paid to Access Arts office or in Week 1
Facilitators: Margi Brown-Ash and Daniele Constance

Entry to the program will be through an expression of interest, to be submitted by Monday 19 January 2015. Please call or email Belinda Locke, Project Coordinator, on (07) 3254 9585 or if you would like to know more.

Community Arts Program 2015

We have another exciting term of workshops ahead where you can engage in various art forms in an inclusive, exploratory environment. We look forward to seeing you there!

Visual Arts – Explore Art Forms

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 art forms in a relaxed group setting.

Term 1: 4 February – 25 March (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

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 1:  5 February – 26 March (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: Rebecca Sadhwani

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 1:  5 February – 26 March (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
Support Worker: TBC

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 1:   6 February – 27 March (8 weeks)
Day/Time: Fridays, 11am – 1pm
Venue:  SWARA – 101 Park Rd, Woolloongabba
Cost – PLEASE NOTE CHANGES: $5 per week
Facilitator: Drummer and percussionist, Nicky Perry
Support Worker: Saskia Levy.

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

Visual Arts Professional Development 2015

Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio

The Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio is for artists who want to develop their visual arts skills to a professional standard. BOA provides a self-directed learning environment in which artists are supported to reach their individual artistic goals. Artists receive professional development support, access to a variety of visual arts materials and opportunities to exhibit in quality exhibitions. The BOA studio is open on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10am – 3pm. Before attending the BOA studio in Brisbane, members are requested to make an appointment with Access Arts to present and discuss their arts practice.

Term Dates 2015

Term 1: Monday 2 February – Tuesday 24 March (8 weeks)
Term 2: Monday 20 April – Tuesday 9 June (8 weeks)
Term 3: Monday 13 July – Tuesday 1 September (8 weeks)
Term 4: Monday 28 September – Tuesday 17 November (8 weeks)

Day/Time: Mondays and Tuesdays, 10am – 3pm
Venue: Access Arts Studio, SWARA, 101 Park Rd, Woolloongabba
Cost: $120 per term, to be paid to the Access Arts office.

Camera Wonderers

The Access Arts Camera Wonderers are a group of dedicated photographers that meet once a week to discuss photography, techniques and ideas. The Camera Wonderers critique and encourage each other’s developing photographic practice in a supportive, non-competitive environment. The Camera Wonderers facilitator fosters artistic development through: technical guidance, presenting the work of established photographers for inspiration, sharing exhibition opportunities, and encouraging the exploration of novel environments and subject matter.

Term Dates 2015

Term 1: Tuesday 3 February – Tuesday 24 March (8 weeks)
Term 2: Tuesday 21 April – Tuesday 9 June (8 weeks)
Term 3: Tuesday 14 July – Tuesday 1 September (8 weeks)
Term 4: Tuesday 29 September – Tuesday 17 November (8 weeks)

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Venue: Access Arts office, 1F/24 Macquarie St, Teneriffe
Cost: $75 per term, to be paid to the Access Arts office



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


Carmel Drennan at the Gympie Suitcase Market

Access Arts’ member Carmel Drennan recently moved to Gympie and is already actively involved in the local arts community. In November Carmel hosted an art stall at the Gympie Suitcase Market; an initiative of the Gympie Regional Gallery. Carmel had a selection of small scale original artworks for sale and provided a live painting demonstration.

Congratulations Carmel! We look forward to hearing more about your creative endeavours in the Gympie region


Living Flow Exhibition at KPMG

This exhibition remains on display in the KPMG foyer until December 16. The exhibition features eighteen of Access Arts’ artists from the Brisbane Outsider Artists’ Studio (including a selection of regional members) and the Camera Wonderers.

McCullough Robertson Foyer Display: Judith Baker

Judith Baker currently has three oil paintings on display in the McCullough Robertson foyer in Brisbane City until January 2015.