Next Wave marks 40 years of supporting artists with All School Lab, 24 – 25 May

by | Apr 19, 2024

Next Wave celebrates 40 years of supporting early-career artists in 2024. Best known as a dynamic hub for bold, collaborative, and experimental art, Next Wave will mark its 40th anniversary with the All School Lab, a program of artist-led talks, performances and activities running over 24 – 25 May encompassing the theme of Past, Present and Future, culminating with a party curated by the Young Artistic Directorate.

The All School LAB will unite artists from previous festivals with its current national Artistic Directorate and Kickstart cohort to reflect on its 40-year history and dream up possible futures.

Next Wave’s 40th anniversary marks the organisation’s evolution from its festival-centric model in 2021, now standing as a vital engine room for art making and experimentation, reflecting the zeitgeist of our times. Since its inception in 1984, Next Wave has supported more than 7,000 artists and arts workers and is currently supporting seven individual artists and one collective nationally through Kickstart, a long-form residential program that prioritises time and relationships, supporting artists to dream and make art within their context and communities.

Next Wave Acting CEO/Director Jacina Leong said: “Next Wave has shaped the Australian arts landscape, playing a pivotal role empowering, elevating and advocating for the next generation of artists. While Next Wave has moved away from its festival approach, responding to continued sector needs for sustainable working practices, our commitment to early-career artists – to the provision of space, time and resources to support creative development – has remained constant.”

The 40th anniversary All School Lab focuses on intergenerational knowledge sharing and creating responses to notions of collectivism, preservation and care, and will include a keynote lecture with Nat Randall, creator of The Second Woman. Conceived for Next Wave in 2016 by an all-female-identifying and non-binary team, The Second Woman has been heralded as ‘one of the finest examples of independent Australian theatre in years’ (The Guardian).

Joining Nat in the All School Lab line-up is Next Wave Festival 2018 alumni Deaf artist Luke King, 2014 alumni dance artists Sarah Aiken and Rebecca Jensen (Deep Soulful Sweats) and former Next Wave creative producer (and current Co-Chief Executive Officer of Theatre Network Australia) Erica McCalman. The program will also feature experiences created by interdisciplinary artist (and cancelled 2020 festival participant) Bethany J Fellows and Next Wave’s current Artistic Directorate – a cohort of eight artists from across the country (one from each state and territory).

These events take place between narrm ngarrgu Library, City of Melbourne’s new library in the Queen Victoria Market precinct and MPavilion Parkville.

The two-day All School Lab culminates with a 40th anniversary party during:next, at Brunswick Mechanics which will transform Brunswick Mechanics into a futuristic performance space, emphasising the idea of evolution that builds on the past.  There will be vinyl and digital DJs, live performance artists, quiet moments for reflection and a series of speeches that span the history of Next Wave artists. A delight for all the senses, expect a space for everyone with snacks included.

The party is curated by the Young Artistic Directorate Banda, Matisse Laida, MaggZ, and Lydia Tesema, in collaboration with Next Wave Creative Producer, Nickila De Silva.

This year Next Wave has commenced an ambitious fundraising campaign, aiming to raise $40,000+ to bolster the 2025 program. 2025 will be a crucial year for Next Wave as it continues to move beyond the festival model with a program of artist-led learning and creative development.

Next Wave will also be launching Ripple Effects: share your Next Wave story – an online invitation to artists and audience with a connection to Next Wave to share their memories and experiences of its 40-year history. With their help, Next Wave will initiate a community-led story about the wide-reaching and ongoing impacts on the organisation.

In March 2024, Next Wave welcomed more than eight new artists into its flagship development program, Kickstart. The new Kickstart artists are An.Other Collective (NSW/VIC), Ellamay Fitzgerald (QLD), Georgia Lucy (TAS), Jayda Wilson (SA), Jen Datu (WA), Rachel Morley (VIC), Rarriwuy Hick (NT) and Sophie Dumaresq (ACT).

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