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From the Editor - Dec 20/Jan 21

Well, folks, you’ve made it to December. This is the last edition in what has been a very interesting year. But I’ll talk to that a little bit later.

Gracing the cover of this bumper December and January edition is an incredible snap of the 2017 Malandarri Festival in Borroloola by Benjamin Warlngundu Ellis Bayliss. This image of kids letting their hair down and busting a move under the night sky in bright threads is such a vibe, perfect for this edition.

Our cover, and this month’s main feature, kicks off silver anniversary celebrations for Artback NT. Over the past 25 years, the dynamic arts organisation has helped Northern Territory artists reach an audience of over 2.76 million all around the world. Follow their trip down memory lane in 2021 as they dive into the archive, and get sense of the incredible range of artists they’ve supported over the years.

Of course, being this time of year, there’s a bunch of wonderful things to do, see, eat and celebrate, and I encourage you to get out there and soak it all up. As you peruse the pages of this edition, perhaps take a moment or two to reflect on how fortunate we’ve been in the NT.

We at Off The Leash often share the stories of others, but I want to share a bit of our experience this year with you. We are very fortunate to receive some funding from Arts NT, but to put this in perspective, the support we receive covers almost two of the 10 editions we print each year, the rest underpinned by advertisement bookings.

Being an event, arts and culture street press publication, our core function was thrown into disarray at the end of March. The day before we were due to send the April edition to print, the Prime Minister announced all pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars would close the next day at midday – our print day. 

Wanting to help as much as we could, our music Gig Guide quickly became the Takeaway Food Guide. We didn’t print in May or June but did what we could during those months to support local artists and businesses online.

Our team was impacted, with the loss of the Editorial Assistant role back in March. Since then, OTL has consisted of myself and our wonderful Graphic Designer, Sarah, and we’ve engaged the support of former OTL legend, Anna Dowd, to get us through these tough times. Big thanks to both of these incredible ladies during this bizarre old time.

We made the call to return to print in July, which as a not-for-profit on a small amount of funding was a risk. But we did this because the creative folk of the Top End – who had lost gigs and work, with many not qualifying for financial support – needed us. How clear is it now how much we need them?

I sincerely wish to thank the arts folk for continuing to create, event organisers for providing experiences for the community, and our advertisers for coming back on deck, knowing full well all could be cancelled at any moment.

It’s been a hard slog, I won’t lie, but I’m happy to say we’ll be back next year with a full team on deck. We end the year on a bit of a high, taking out Best Magazine or Lift Out at the NT Media Awards. Talk about a whirlwind of emotion – what a ride you are, 2020.

I think we all might be a bit sillier than usual this silly season, but boy, do we deserve it. We'll be back in print from March. On behalf of our team and board, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy!


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