By Ronsie Chan
Ronsie Chan investigates the annual festival that has targeted the young minds of Sydney’s emerging artists.
The youth are always seen as the future pioneers. Emerging artists should be seen as the future ‘new ground breakers’ of the art industry; they are the group of artists who have the spark of creativity burning brightly within them; they are determined to establish themselves with their own particular style. These artists often produce the most exciting works and are definitely worth drawing more attention and appreciation from the public. The important contribution that they make to the vitality of Australian cultural life should be valued by providing them opportunities and exposure.
Smart Arts is a youth arts and cultural festival showcasing the creative talents and initiatives of young people in the various areas of visual arts, film, performance and music. The festival is the creative platform for the City of Sydney’s annual Youth Week celebrations and is drawn from the creative talents of 16-25 year old Sydneysiders. The festival brought together the city’s most talented young artists in an exciting showcase of various areas. Not only the artists benefited from this opportunity to expend their career. By providing opportunity and exposure to the youth and emerging artists from all those fields, greater understanding and appreciation of contemporary art, craft and design practice was also drawn from the public.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said, ‘Sydney is a global city which is bursting with cultural energy and creativity. Festivals like smart ARTS are the perfect way of showcasing the many different art forms that are alive and well in our city. This is the only youth arts festival of its kind in Sydney, and it really gives local up-and-coming artists, performers and designers a chance to shine.. The festival was packed with a variety of creative workshops, exhibition, forums, parties and other fun activities. Audiences were able to immerse themselves into a diverse range of inspiring and stimulating issues and ideas.
The festival commenced with an art exhibition and launch party featuring performances by the Sydney Youth Orchestra as well as light projections by award-winning filmmakers Punk Monk Propaganda. Both performances definitely helped in attracting the public eyes to the festival. The opening of the Interpretation Art exhibition at Pine Street Gallery was held after the launch party. The exhibition showcases the next generation of emerging artists in a very engaging approach where artists were asked to respond to six unique statements given by the curators. The result was an assortment of different artistic interpretations in range of mediums. Besides this exciting exhibition, two sustainable workshops were held as part of the festival – sustainable jewellery and sustainable bookbinding. Participants were given the chance to directly discover the art of using a variety of recycled and reused material to create jewellery, recycled bookbinding, and much more while being tutored by some of Sydney’s best artists at Pine Street Creative Arts Centre.
As part of the tradition, discussion forums and seminars were also included as part of the event this year. ‘Creative pros: kick start your art’ was a career-focused visual arts seminar featuring guest speakers from a range of different areas within the art industry. The interactive discussion forums provided a great opportunity for young people who had questions and uncertainties about the arts industry to find their solutions and to get more in-depth information about the industry. The guidelines and answers from the professionals were intended to assist those with ambitions and enthusiasm towards the arts. Another engaging activity was the Street Art Jam, which was a local tour of Chippendale’s street art sites. Participants were supplied with a range of equipment to use in the studios, giving them a chance to experience making an actual piece of street art. The festival ended on the 27 April 2012 with a closing party which concluded with a remarkable group of young people combining youth film screening, music performances, and live art and projections at Fraser Studios, Chippendale.
One of the key aspects of the festival is that opportunities are created for young people’s artistic production to be seen by the wider community in a range of forums and venues. As part of this, arts organisations were encouraged to embrace the needs and employ the skills of young people within their planning and programming. The arts are important because they socialise and civilise, and because they contribute to the development of healthy, adaptable individuals and societies. Smart Arts has taken action on this idea by acknowledging and embracing the significance of young people in the art industry.