LIVEWORKS 2016: OPENING NIGHT SPEECH FROM ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & CEO, JEFF KHAN

Posted on: October 29th, 2016

I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we’re meeting, and holding this festival—the Gadigal people—and pay my respects to their elders past, present and future.

This is a significant site for past, present and future Aboriginal communities and it’s important to acknowledge that it is, was, and always will be Aboriginal land.

I’d also like to acknowledge Jonathan Casson our Chair, the Performance Space Board, and our extraordinary team of staff that have brought this festival to life with such passion, dedication and skill. Thank you all – I am in awe of you. Thank you also to Lisa Havilah, Lisa Ffrench and the team at Carriageworks for supporting our vision for this festival so strongly.

Welcome to Liveworks! It’s an honour to have so many of you here to help us celebrate this moment. And after all that’s happened this year in the arts: all the pressure, all the funds removed and redirected, and the damage done, it’s unbelievably humbling exciting to be standing here, welcoming you to Performance Space’s second annual Liveworks festival. We’re here, we’re resilient, and in this climate, we’re more determined than ever to support the risky, the experimental, the forward thinking, the critical and the contemporary. These are the voices and the values we need to emphasise when we are too often crowded and corralled by narrow mindedness and fear. These are the artists—the ones right out there on the edge of their artforms— that are daring to imagine how our reality might be different to the one we’re living in.

So in welcoming you to the festival, I would also like to dedicate this one to the artists. The artists of Liveworks, the artists of Australia and the Asia Pacific. We believe in your work, we will continue to work alongside you, and we thank you for the new perspectives you open up for us.

To the artists of Liveworks: you are extraordinary. It’s a privilege to be presenting your work.

  • Ross Manning
  • Stiff Gins, Felix Cross and collaborators
  • Jon Rose and Holly Williams, and their incredible team of musicians
  • Pony Express
  • Kristina Chan and her dream team
  • River Lin
  • Choy Ka Fai, Rianto and XiaoKe&ZiHan
  • Mish Grigor
  • Tina Havelock Stevens
  • Liesel Zink
  • Jo Lloyd & Nicola Gunn
  • We the People‑Deborah Kelly, Emma Saunders, David Capra, Anna McMahon, Benjamin Forster

Over the next two weeks we are presenting 14 new works in and across this amazing Carriageworks precinct. This includes 6 world premieres by artists from across Australia and the Asia Pacific region. And it’s all happening this fortnight, so please dive in to the program as deeply as you can, before this amazing moment is gone.

We are living in a time of urgency, of upheaval and uncertainty. All around us our leaders, our governments and our institutions seem incapable of breaking gridlocks and moving us ahead as a culture, and as a people. From Indigenous sovereignty to ongoing struggles against misogyny and homophobia to Climate Change, our institutions and our governments are prevaricating, failing to act, stalling, and we are all growing tired of waiting.

It’s in this environment that we need the voices of our artists more than ever. It’s our artists who are finding new ways to have these conversations, who are imagining alternatives and helping us find our own voices, our passion and our agency.

And if this all sounds a bit heavy, they also remind us of our common humanity. That it’s possible to feel joy, hope and connectedness without trampling on the planet or each other. Liveworks is about immersing yourself, trying something new, the thrill of discovery, the rewards of curiosity and the excitement of being here together, in this moment, now. This festival is about transformative experiences and I hope you have a brilliant time.

Artistic Director & CEO, Jeff Khan