NIDA CEO Liz Hughes looks to the future

11 May 2020

I have been in the CEO role at NIDA for just over four months – and it has been a wild ride. I have been amazed and humbled by the creativity, talent and passion of the NIDA team and students, and at the other extreme, COVID-19 has presented challenges on almost every front.

I really hope that you are staying well and healthy. These are difficult times. The situation has impacted our global arts community, our local theatre companies, film production companies and every university and drama school in the world. Like many organisations, NIDA has adapted and quickly. Our treasured Bachelors and Masters are being taught online and our Vocational Diplomas are scheduled to resume in July. We have momentarily paused our face-to-face short courses and launched NIDA Open and NIDA Corporate online courses designed for individuals and organisations to skill-up and position themselves to thrive both on and offline.

This is a time for our special NIDA community to come together and find the silver lining. As a result of isolation, a greater uptake of technology and a disrupted environment where the rules are different, pioneering ideas are opening up that can enhance our world and performing arts practice specifically. It is through this innovation that I envisage a bright time ahead for our community, and everyone. NIDA staff and students have been an inspirational force, they are up for the challenge and are already reshaping the future of the performing arts.

Our June Season of Student Productions has been excitingly reimagined as a digital festival for presentation in August. Six inspirational artists lead projects that push the boundaries of performance practice and storytelling online and further develop creative and agile thinking in our students; attributes that our industry will be hungry for. We will update you soon and invite you to join us online to view and experience these new virtual works.

In these strange times, the power and importance of creativity in our lives is stronger than ever. In isolation, the work of artists keeps us connected and mentally healthy through our screens, books, podcasts and music, and storytelling helps us make sense of this historic situation and feel united. Creative thinking helps us invent new positive realities for all aspects of our lives. The arts are a crucial part of our nation’s infrastructure. We need creative practices and artists to reshape a positive world, to lead us to think differently, to be curious and brave, and to be an essential lever for our future prosperity. This is a time for us to nurture our artists and extend the bounds of creativity for the good of all.

In this spirit, on 30 April we launched a series of online In Conversation behind-the-scenes talks with a range of amazing artists. As part of the inaugural event, director Justin Kurzel and actor Essie Davis, both NIDA Alumni, shared insights from their latest projects and creative life. For the second event we welcomed powerhouse actor and filmmaker Joel Edgerton. This week, we'll hear from NIDA Alumna Shannon Murphy, hailed by Variety as one of 10 directors to watch in 2020. Join us live on the NIDA Facebook page at 1.05pm on Thursday 14 May, or catch up on all recordings any time on the NIDA Facebook page and NIDA YouTube channel.

We will resume face-to-face classes, productions and events once the COVID-19 restrictions lift and it’s safe for everyone to return to our beloved theatres and rehearsal rooms. We will keep you posted. In the meantime, we are keen to hear your thoughts, to have a dialogue and to collectively craft opportunities that make a difference to our NIDA community and beyond. Please reach out.

Finally, I take this opportunity to acknowledge our supporters whose generosity continues to make a difference during these challenging times. Thank you.

I very much look forward to connecting with you soon.

Keep safe and well.

Liz Hughes

PS: this year, our Open Day(s) will take place online, with activities spreading across four days from Wednesday 17–Saturday 20 June. Register your interest to attend here.