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.


NIDA Open 2024: Innovations, New Courses, and Creative Transformations

NIDA Open has just launched its new Term classes in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The program offers more than 900 courses a year, reflecting NIDA’s core training, and gathers thousands of participants of all ages every year seeking to discover or deepen their artistic practice, guided by inspiring tutors in a supportive environment. Gillian Meisner-Lemon, Head of NIDA Open, tells us more about the program for 2024.

What defines the specificity of NIDA Open?

NIDA Open provides practical skills-based courses that are informed by the training we offer on both NIDA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs. Courses are conducted by teaching artists who maintain their professional practice as artists and are passionate about passing that knowledge onto others. NIDA Open offers courses during both term and holiday periods for individuals aged 2 and above in the Creative Play space, as well as for adults in both short courses (1 to 5 days) and longer intensive programs (Studios and Residencies).

Courses cover various aspects of performance for both stage and screen, in addition to directing, writing, design, and stage management in Sydney (various locations), Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin (via Skills NT).

Who are the adults taking courses at NIDA Open, and what are they seeking?

Adults attending an Open course may have always wanted to pursue a career in the Performing Arts and are seeking rigorous training. Alternatively, they may be individuals looking for a creative outlet in their busy lives, where they can acquire new skills and connect with like-minded people and do what they love! I think that they’re also attracted by NIDA’s reputation as a leading education institution focussed on process-driven training. They also know that everyone is welcome as we create an inclusive environment that is supportive and inspiring. It could be daunting to take the first step in a Presenting or Acting course, but NIDA Open has developed processes to ensure the experience is positive.

We also have an adult course offering by level, from beginners to those who have experience and an established creative practice. I think that people like the idea of progressing from one level to another for complete artistic fulfillment. We’ve recently noticed an increase of interest in Adult courses in Writing andin Presenting, which are useful skills in our modern world. We have a course to meet everyone’s needs and interests.

What are the most successful courses, and why do children and young people enjoy taking classes at NIDA Open?

Both our School Holiday and Term programs are very popular with children and young people. They provide the right mix of learning and fun in a creative environment where children and young people can make new friends and develop confidence. Courses in Acting are very popular for all ages, and NIDA Open courses are often the introduction to the discipline for students later applying to NIDA’s Diploma of Stage and Screen Performance (10914NAT) or the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. Courses in Drama, Acting on Screen and Singing and Acting are most popular and there are options in all genres in both Term and School Holidays.

What are the particularities of 2024 in terms of course content? Are there any new courses or changes in existing courses?

Each year, we create new content for our Term Classes for children and young people, emphasising Improvisation in Term 1, Voice and Movement in Term 2, Devising in Term 3, and Text in Term 4. This approach offers a diverse range of opportunities, allowing children and young people to explore different genres each term. For example, they might delve into Drama in Term 1, Musical Theatre in Term 2, and Acting on Screen in Term 3. Additionally, we provide courses for those seeking a dedicated focus on their creative journey through our Next Stage and Performance Lab programs, which are semester-based.

For Adults, we are always reviewing what is current in the industry and shaping and adapting our program to reflect that. This year, we’ve added two new courses to our Essentials suite: Self-tapes and TVCs (Television Commercials).

What is the best feedback you recall from an adult, young child, and/or child regarding their experience with NIDA Open?

We always receive positive feedback from participants about the new skills they have developed, the engaging environment and the passionate teaching staff : ‘I’m almost completed the Screen Acting Techniques 2 course and I have to report that our teacher has been brilliant …so professional, with each minute packed with a balance of engaging theory and practical learning. I’m loving the journey and looking forward to the next step.’, says a participant.

Is there any financial assistance available to purchase a course?

We offer a recurring early bird pricing, providing a 10% discount on Adult courses when booked two weeks before the course begins and four weeks prior for Children and Young People courses.

In 2024 we will be launching an Equity Subsidy alongside our existing First Nations Subsidy. These subsidies enable participants to access a 50% discount on the cost of a course.

Click here for an access to all NIDA Open courses.

Gillian Meisner-Lemon is a theatre director and acting teacher and currently Head of NIDA Open.She holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Directing from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London as well as a Bachelor of Education (Hons) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked extensively in the United Kingdom as both a director and acting teacher at a number of leading drama schools, and was Program Leader for the Foundation Certificate Program in Performing Arts at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) for almost 10 years. Gillian has worked at NIDA Open since 2015 in a variety of roles relating to course design and teaching and she teaches acting fundamentals in year 1 of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting.