Gathering your thoughts

I wanted to share with the WA Showcase family the amazing achievements and creativity at The Gathering and thank you all for reminding us all how performing arts is  critical in this world of change.

We always wanted the Gathering to be a fire starter, knowing it would challenge us all. After the devastation to our industry in 2020/2021 we really wanted to reach within ourselves about the essential role of performing arts.

I thank you for your commitment and your willingness to take on such a task that challenged personal values and targeted the heart of how so many of us view a world losing its devastatingly self-destructive battle with nature.

The Gathering facilitator, Shona Erskine have provided some important reflections below.

And I just wanted to say thank you

Ryan Taaffe
Executive Director

The gathering. The conversation. The process

Each year CircuitWest creates and runs Showcase. And each year they listen to what you thought, what it is that you want, what it is that you need now and what you need next, as well as all the other feedback that you give them. One major issue has always been ensuring there is more time to know each other and to connect in meaningful ways. The other issue is the declining perceptions of the critical role of performing arts across the spectrum of life in Australia.

To address these two issues CircuitWest took a risk at the 2021 Showcase and facilitated a day aimed at addressing your need to connect meaningfully with each other and your need to be a valued participant in society.

In 2020, we all found how fast most of the industry could be brushed off the federal table with the stroke of a pen. Instead of looking to arts and culture to inspire Australia through a terrible crisis, it was largely silenced and side-lined. Many of the conventional arguments made for arts and the traditional voices went unnoticed. Despite this, performing arts never actually stopped. In fact, its voices were magnified in a million places directly into the households of locked down people, providing comfort and inspiring connection and understanding. And although we have had this life saving role across the country for more than 18 months our existence is still at the will of the stroke of a pen. We decided it was time to create a war chest of ideas in defence of our industry from the creative minds of performing arts around WA.

This risk was to program a different type of day at Showcase that was directly aimed at providing you with an opportunity to put your mind to this issue. We worked behind the scenes to formulate a plan that afforded you time. We didn’t schedule back-to-back presentations or ferry you around the space at hourly intervals.  Instead, we grouped you with strangers and friends and asked you to formulate some new thinking for an old problem, defining the huge worth of performing arts especially in a crisis.

The content of the day was designed around a doomsday scenario, albeit it one that many of us believe is already upon us. The process was designed to do something very specific. Something to address the recurring issue of blindness to the value of performing arts.

Think back on the gathering’s process. On working with others in a group and all that involves: stepping forward, stepping back, listening, meeting yourself.

What did the process invited you to do? What issue do you think that CircuitWest was aiming to solve through the gathering process?

In the afternoon, once you had met each other, designed a placard and written a letter, I asked you:
Do you know more people? Do you know them better?

And you all raised your hands.

And you all smiled.

What was the experience like to be in relationship and conversation all day? It is not an easy task to slow down busy lives and take the time to understand each other through conversation and activity. But it is an essential part of building relationships and gathering our collective intelligence and creativity for a shared challenge.

CircuitWest had been hearing for a number of years now that you were happy with Showcase’s content but that you often left the event not knowing each other. Not meeting new people or trying new things. Not feeling more connected.

CircuitWest hoped for those people at the gathering, there were many new connections, and much inspired new thinking  about who we all are and why we are performing arts

Dr Shona Erskine MAPS
Registered Psychologist
PhD, MPsych(Organisational and Industrial), BA(Psychology)(Honours), BA(Dance)

Placards from The Gathering

Letters from The Gathering

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