St Georges' Series: Joanna Kerr

St Georges' Series: Joanna Kerr

Creating a curating project.

Joanna Kerr
Melbourne, Australia

St Georges' Series: Joanna Kerr

Creating a curating project.

As developing artists it is important to acknowledge the advantages and, at times, necessity of establishing self-curated performances. Through a collaborative effort, we can take the first steps towards managing our own careers successfully. There are already many wonderful collectives and music events in Melbourne, but any chance to facilitate and support the performance of original music, particularly where new artists can be given the kind of focus that is often reserved for established acts, is a welcome one. 

What is the Collaboration Connection?

The focus of The Collaboration Connection is to create more opportunities for emerging and established artists to engage with each other and the community. With the support of the VCA, MCM and IgniteLab, I formed this project with the hope of providing a program that allows artists to work alongside each other, to create new audiences for their original music projects, and to develop meaningful connections that lead to a stronger capacity to network within the arts. Not only does The Collaboration Connection aim to assist new artists in gaining visibility and industry reach in the local contemporary music scene, but we also provide another way for performing arts students and graduates to continue developing their skills. We believe it is important for students to have the opportunity to do this within a supportive structure as they move toward the next phase of their journey as multifaceted artists. 

Making it Happen

It can be tempting to keep your dreams, ambitions, and ideas to yourself, to avoid confronting the possibility of not achieving your goals. But the fear of failure is only made more paralyzing when you delay the attempt to succeed. If you can release yourself from the desire to control what is uncontrollable, and instead find empowerment in the choices you can make toward your goals, every decision is a step forward, to free yourself from the trappings of thought with the force of action.

I set myself a goal to be more active in pursuing opportunities instead of waiting for them to happen for me, which got me thinking about what opportunities I wanted to create for myself and for others. This led me to assuming the role of curator for the first time. Since I was already taking on a new challenge, I decided that I wanted to expand it into an opportunity to learn how to put together a successful grant application and pitch a project. I was very privileged to receive a grant and invaluable mentorship as a result.

Toward the end of last year I presented the first Collaboration Connection performance at Lionel’s Lounge in Southbank, which featured an amazing line up of local vocalist-composers, including current VCA students and alumni. Through this experience, I have learned that I can trust in my ability to present myself well, and work under pressure. I learned that when I am confident and truly passionate about something, that this translates to a successful presentation. Most of all, I really enjoyed planning and booking the artist line-up, and seeing what I had envisioned for the night come to fruition. It really started to feel worth the effort when I received positive feedback from those involved, with interest starting to build from students, alumni, and members of the greater community wishing to be involved. 

From putting this project together, I learned about what is most important when working within a strict time frame. Our lead-time was very short for this project launch, and it is amazing to realise what can be done when you have a strong idea, focus, and support. Communicating with people I haven’t met before over email was challenging and rewarding as I had some really positive responses. I was also able to prepare a thorough budget proposal, which was a new skill for me. The benefits gained from going through the pitch process for the grant, and launching the project, far outweigh the fear of trying something new and failing.

To Be Continued

There is still so much that I am learning as I plan for the future of The Collaboration Connection and my personal music career. Dealing with confronting tasks like self-promotion, scheduling, managing an online presence and building a local and online community interest, and keeping momentum by curating more performance opportunities, initiating group development sessions and creating collaborative community events. Rather than working alone with our limited capacity, we can collaborate, supporting each other as a creative and powerful collective.

We enjoy collaborating with other community initiatives and local performance venues, so we are delighted to be a part of the 2017 Friends of Music concert series at St. George’s, where two phenomenal vocalists, STAV and Erica Bramham, will join me as we present to you an afternoon of original music.