“Through the annual Design Associate Program, STC is committed to elevating the voices and creative input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse peoples." Artistic Director Kip Williams
Three talented and passionate emerging theatre designers have been appointed as Sydney Theatre Company’s first Design Associate Program cohort – lighting designer Kate Baldwin, sound designer/composer Brendon Boney and set/costume designer James Lew.
The Design Associate Program initiative, established by Artistic Director Kip Williams to form part of the Company’s Resident Artists program, aims to promote and foster the professional development of First Nations and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) artists to address current underrepresentation – particularly in the area of theatre design.
Williams said the quality of applicants was outstanding and demonstrated the high calibre of emerging talent in the community. Having forged his own career at STC as a Resident Artist, Williams said he was keen to welcome the burgeoning practitioners into the industry and foster their talent.
"I am so excited to collaborate with Brendon, James and Kate throughout the inaugural year of the Design Associate Program,” Williams said.
“This program is extremely important to me and the Company because we know positive, systemic change can come from the voices we amplify and the practitioners STC offers a platform to. In 2020, STC made a Cultural Representation Pledge in recognition of the need for better representation across all levels of our organisation. Through the annual Design Associate Program, STC is committed to elevating the voices and creative input of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse peoples."
Kate Baldwin is an Asian-Australian lighting designer currently working on Darlinghurst Theatre Company's seven methods of killing kylie jenner - helmed by STC's Resident Director Shari Sebbens.
Kate said she was excited to continue playing her role in changing society's perception of what a typical lighting designer looks like.
"I'm really looking forward to using this opportunity to not only learn from and collaborate with STC's existing pool of diverse and accomplished Resident Artists, but I'm also hoping that the visibility of this program will mean that I have the opportunity to meet and connect with more First Nations and POC Lighting Designers," Kate said.
Brendon Boney is a Wiradjuri/Gamilaroi music composer whose work has been featured on TV shows including Network Ten’s Offspring and SBS’ Redfern Now, and more recently in theatre and dance productions including at Bangarra Dance Theatre and Belvoir St Theatre. Brendon said STC was a company he had always wanted to work with and so he jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Design Associate Program.
“I always keep in mind how I can help push First Nations artists forward and being able to step into this position is a wonderful opportunity for me to share and show others what can be achieved and what’s out there,” Brendon said. “I’m looking forward to the mentorship aspect the most. It’s exciting getting close to experienced artists, creatives and producers discussing the ins and outs of their processes and the industry to learn lessons I’ll be able to take with me throughout my developing career.”
James Lew is an Asian-Australian theatremaker and designer originally from Melbourne. His recent work includes Daddy, an immersive dance theatre performance by Joel Bray presented as part of the 2019 Liveworks Festival. He recently relocated to Sydney and works within Opera Australia's technical staging department.
"Opportunities for designers to engage meaningfully with mainstage theatre companies are rare,” James said. “I’m so excited to be in the company of peers who are vitally shifting how we intersect with the arts.”
The Design Associates will each be offered a paid, 12-month position that includes two assistant positions on a main stage production, mentoring from industry professionals, masterclasses and more. The position is part-time and hours will vary across the year depending on the activity being undertaken.
The Design Associates will be given the opportunity to work with and learn from skilled staff and industry members as well as have access to resources that will enable participants to hone their theatre design skills and develop their creative voice. The aim is for these designers to become integrated members of the company’s artistic cohort.
The Design Associate Program is supported by Mark & Anne Lazberger.