NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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NIDA congratulates the Class of 2021

On Sunday 26 June 2022, students, staff and guests came together at NIDA’s Parade Theatre to celebrate the Class of 2021 and acknowledge the achievements of 155 graduating artists.

NIDA Graduation

NIDA CEO Liz Hughes welcomed the NIDA graduands, staff and boards, Chair Noel Staunton, distinguished guests, Aunty Maxine Ryan and the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, Federal Member for Kingsford Smith.

Liz Hughes applauded the strength and passion of the graduating students, saying, “All of you are leaving primed to tell your stories and each one of you has deep expertise in a specific discipline. Throughout your training, you have been honing your ability to improvise, communicate and connect with audiences across all platforms, while mustering the determination to put the show on despite challenges (small or pandemic size).

"It is this training – and your hard work – that has you ready for the workforce. You leave NIDA equipped with the skills to join a robust creative eco-system of industrious people who keep a multi-billion dollar industry alive."

She also acknowledged the help and support of the Federal Government for NIDA in its 63rd successful year, saying "We are encouraged by recent comments from the new Prime Minister, the Honourable Anthony Albanese, the new Arts Minister, the Hon Tony Burke, and the new Minister for Education, the Hon Jason Clare, and buoyed by their support and love of the arts and their commitment to the importance of education and training."

NIDA Graduation

Above: The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP with some of NIDA's newest Alumni

The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP congratulated the graduands and wished them well. "NIDA has made a huge contribution to the cultural and artistic development of Australia and has produced some of the world’s best artists, producers, designers, managers and much more."

NIDA Graduation

Above: NIDA CEO Liz Hughes and Rhoda Roberts AO

Rhoda Roberts AO was presented with an honorary Master of Fine Arts in acknowledgement of her significant contribution to the performing arts industry in Australia and internationally and her extraordinary career as an Actor, Creative Director, Writer, Producer and Arts Consultant.

Liz Hughes remarked, "From founding the Festival of Dreaming to her long tenure as Head of Indigenous Programming at the Sydney Opera House, Rhoda’s phenomenal contribution to entertainment over the last thirty years is unrivalled… and almost impossible to list! Her passion, drive, creativity and boundless energy is revered by so many of us."

In accepting the award, Rhoda said, "I am truly honoured and very humbled. Never in my little life would I have ever thought that this was possible."

She encouraged the graduands, saying, "It has been the most challenging time for the arts, but it's been the most exciting time. The progress that you have made in the last few years against every odd tells me the resilience we'll see in our industry and across the creative industries in the next few years is going to be dynamic."

NIDA Graduation

Above: Isaac Barron delivers the graduate response

Isaac Barron, graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Technical Theatre and Stage Management, addressed the room on behalf of the students. Isaac gave an inspiring speech, acknowledging the challenges of the past few years but praising his fellow graduates for their spirit.

"Today is a celebration of our hard work and commitment to not only ourselves but also to the cultural DNA that makes this country. Arts and storytelling have always been an integral part of the fabric of Australia, and we are at the forefront of new, unique voices bringing new ideas to stages and screens across the world."

NIDA Graduation

Above: Phoenix McKay accepts the Leslie Walford AM Award from Gary Simpson AM

NIDA Director of Learning and Innovation, Sarah Miller AM, introduced the Leslie Walford AM Award, administered by the Seaborn, Broughton and Walford Foundation, and presented by Gary Simpson AM, a director of the foundation.

The award was presented to BFA Design for Performance graduate Phoenix McKay, who will receive support to bring her wide-ranging research proposal titled Model Memory to life. Model Memory is designed to explore the role of the model in contemporary theatrical practice, and Phoenix aims to establish a studio and exhibit her research outcomes.

NIDA Graduation

Above: Jax Compton accepts the Lynne Williams AM Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership

The ceremony also included the presentation of the Lynne Williams AM Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership by Course Leader Karilyn Brown. The award is to be used by the recipient towards further professional development and/or international opportunities and was this year presented to MFA Cultural Leadership graduate Jacqueline (Jax) Compton. Karilyn Brown said of Jax, "Imbued with a deep sense of cultural responsibility and integrity, she is driven to create platforms, language and knowledge that she can apply in her cultural and professional work, as well as more broadly with her community and the First Nations sector in Australia."

Karilyn also thanked The Luminis Foundation and its Cultural Leadership Fellowship, which enables First Nations students to undertake the course.

NIDA Graduation

Above: Diploma of Musical Theatre students perform Flying Away, from the musical Fun Home

During the ceremony, 2022 Diploma of Musical Theatre students performed Flying Away, from the musical Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron. The students were accompanied on the piano by tutor Anne-Maree McDonald.

In closing the event, Liz Hughes urged the new graduates to stay connected to their fellow Alumni, and "be bold and courageous and invent exciting futures for the performing arts."

NIDA Graduation

NIDA Graduation

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