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2021 NT Performing Arts Awards

On Fri 12 Nov, the third annual NT Performing Arts Awards (NTPAA) were held at Darwin Entertainment Centre to celebrate the Territory's booming performing arts industry. 

Identifying a lack of acknowledgement in the NT performing arts space, the awards were developed by We3 – a strategic alliance made up of Brown’s Mart, Tracks Dance Company and Corrugated Iron Youth Arts.

Presented by Ben Graetz and Kyle Walmsley, the 2021 NTPAA attracted a record number of nominations, with seven awards going out on the night. Huge congratulations to all nominees and awards recipients!


RICHARD FEJO

MC comments: A generous soul who has an undying commitment to supporting and promoting others, they have built bridges and friendships with members of the arts, music, comedy and storytelling communities that have paved the way for other emerging artists to follow.

This wonderful human has worked incredibly hard to support, curate and develop the Deadly Darwin comedy scene. Their tireless work and passion for using comedy to heal in Reconciliation and to get diverse voices on stage has resulted in an impressive growth in First Nations comedians in Darwin, many performing as part of bigger festivals - both mainstream and Aboriginal led. He is the father of Deadly Darwin.


NICKY FEARN

MC comments: This person is an established performer, physical theatre practitioner, and theatre maker. They are highly skilled in character acting with a rich focus on physical embodiment. They are passionate about telling stories about the Top End and our human experience.

They are a greatly valued member of the performing arts community who regularly places themselves outside their personal comfort zone and shows great willingness to explore broad and diverse layers and communities to create theatrical performances and collaborate with artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds.

 


CJ FRASER-BELL

MC comments: This arts worker has been a tireless contributor for many years. They have stepped up whenever needed to fill gaps, to promote and support artists and be the reliable and trustworthy and inspiring individual that anyone making theatre would want on their side. As an artist in their own right, they work with others on projects and develop their own contemporary works.

They have worked across diverse groups, sectors and ages of people who want to make theatre and explore new forms of theatre and performance/performance art. They have unashamedly stepped up, to be themselves, to make and promote new works, to develop and support Darwin queer artists and to expand horizons for all artists and audiences.


Michael Vernau

MC comments: This person is someone who has kept the technical area of the performing arts ticking away. Called the ‘Mr Miyagi of audio’, they continue to draw on their unrivalled skills in lighting and audio. Their teaching method is recognised as extremely engaging, and his graduates are sought after in the sector.

They have made what can be a difficult and unpredictable industry to work in, into their career and life. We welcome their unceasing commitment to the performing arts sector, ensuring the future of behind the scenes is in safe hands.

 


HANEEN MARTIN

MC comments: Going well above and beyond, this arts worker shows enormous enthusiasm for supporting other creatives by giving so much time to our community. Whether producing their own events or opportunities, or supporting another project, they have shown immense compassion towards artists at all stages of their careers, and across all platforms.

A one-time leading member of the Happy Yess community and well known for empowering more females to step into DJ-ing, they are a strong advocate for First Nations creatives and artists of colour - and are unafraid of the difficult conversations. Their great passion can be seen through the additional work they do across the breadth of our artistic community.


MARITA SMITH

MC comments: This person is an artist, teacher and advocate. They first came to the Territory in the 80’s to dance with Feats Unlimited. They also worked as an independent dance artist. After a stint away, they returned to Darwin and taught dance at Casuarina Secondary College, coupling that with the theatre and performance course. They dedicated the next 15 years to inspiring our young Darwin dancers, finding as many opportunities for them to be involved in the wider performing arts scene, often engaging with our major performing arts organisations and artists. Many of their students have gone on to work in the performing arts.

When talking about this person we hear the words honesty, trust, authenticity, passion, and connectedness. It takes great courage to remain in our education system, ensuring the flow of the youth into the next generation of arts workers.


KEN CONWAY

MC comments: Half a century ago, Ken Conway’s actions paved the way for the arts in Darwin. The ethos of the arts in Darwin, its connection to community, largely come from Ken's approach to leading Brown's Mart Community Arts. A role he gave up his job as a lawyer for in the 70's and continued for the next 3 decades. He jumped in and “gave it a go” He continues to enthusiastically contribute by being on the boards of several Darwin Arts organisations. On the other side of the coin he has been there with government (like it or not) informing and shaping arts policy.

Award accepted by Tim and David of Tracks Dance on behalf of Ken.

 


SPECIAL MENTION

We3 wanted to make one additional special acknowledgement – to Hannah Illingworth and the Darwin Fringe Festival Team who have weathered two festival cancellations (in 2020 and 2021) with grace and thoughtfulness, and performed a remarkably quick COVID-pivot to pull together Fringe 2.0. Thank you for your incredible contribution to our community.

 

 

 

 


For more information on the awards, including how they came to be, please click here to check out the feature from the September edition!

All images: Duane Preston

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