Future Oz returns to Facebook for a LIVESTREAM concert on Saturday the 21st of November, 8.30pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT). This concert will feature 14 Australian Music Theatre graduate students of 2019 and 2020, who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous, and People of Colour.
Performances will include a wide variety of genres, including pop hits, classic musical theatre, and original material by the performers. The stellar cast of 14 represent some of the major performing arts institutions in Australia including WAAPA, VCA, Griffith Conservatorium and FedUni. ALL donations received from this concert will go to the AOC (Artists of Colour) Initiative and StageAChange who continue to provide opportunities and platforms for performers of colour.
The AOC Initiative is a scholarship competition designed to provide financial assistance and industry support to 6 exceptionally talented Theatre performers, based in Australia that identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour, while StageAChange is an organisation that aims to create professional opportunities throughout the theatre industry, supporting artists, and helping people who are interested in the industry, particularly People of Colour, find their pathways to a professional career.
Future Oz was originally created to unite musical theatre students across Australia and offer alternative means for them to perform in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
In addition to the pandemic, our industry had a huge spotlight shone on it in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
President of Future Oz Inc. Liam Wigney says ‘It was clear that we had to use our platform to continue the conversation. ‘Supported by Future Oz’s Vice-President Deirdre Khoo, Wigney says that ‘Future Oz was created to showcase the future of the industry, and we want to foster a future that’s inclusive and celebrates diversity.
Founder of the AOC Initiative, Tarik Frimpong, says,
I think it’s integral that right now in this moment, we pay particular attention to productions (and screen projects) that celebrate racial diversity on the stage/screen and/or tell the stories of People of Colour.
While the Australian Arts industry is finding its footing on equity and diversity, many feel that the Australian musical theatre scene is behind countries like the UK and US.
Founder of StageAChange, Cessalee Stovall, believes that Australia is not behind, ‘because it probably looks completely different to what works and happens in the UK and US. We need to have those countries as examples, but we need to figure out what Australia is, and what our theatre industry and its diversity and inclusion is.’
Stovall says, ‘Australia is Indigenous, black, many ranges of what falls under Asian, and many ranges of what falls into an immigrant. We don’t fit in the same boxes as America,’ and she concludes, ‘That’s okay.’
In our current heightened climate, Stovall says that ‘people are now more willing to talk and stand up. More allies are willing to stand up against issues,’ but ‘so many people are so afraid to do something wrong, that they get so terrified, they don’t take any step at all.’
Conversations need to be continued within the industry, and people must continue to show up for their BIPOC peers who remain under or misrepresented in the Australian theatre industry.
Frimpong encourages young POC kids out there wishing to pursue a career in the arts to ‘go for it, never give up, and do not take no for an answer!’
‘Despite the rejection, despite the lack of diversity, despite the systemic issues at play – please continue to show up! You are the future,’ he emphasizes.
For aspiring performers who don’t see themselves represented in the industry, let this be a testament that you will always have a place. This concert has a complete cast of performers who identify as BIPOC who are brand new to the industry, so watch out for them!