The future of arts education

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Andrea Simpson

Partnerships, mentorships and fellowships: the Helpmann Academy is taking arts education to the next level.
The future of arts education

Zoe Woods, Olivia Dryden and Stephanie Jaclyn, inaugural Helpmann Fellowship recipients. Photo by Olivia Power.

Increasingly, students are seeking a more personalised educational experience than in previous decades. Responding to this need has allowed the Helpmann Academy to become an integral part of the arts education landscape in Australia. 

'We are quite unique as the only organisation that umbrellas higher education institutions in South Australia, supporting their graduates in the first five years of their career,' explained Jane MacFarlane, CEO, The Helpmann Academy.


'We work with the main higher education institutions in South Australia – Adelaide College of the Arts, Flinders University, University of Adelaide, and University of South Australia, supporting their music, dance, theatre, film, and visual arts graduates.'

Studying a creative discipline at one of the Helpmann Academy’s partner institutions gives graduates access to the most significant professional development opportunities for artists in Australia, including grants, awards, mentorships, masterclasses, international artist residencies and expert advisory services.

 Learn more about The Helpmann Academy’s graduate opportunities

'Most of our funding comes from private sector support through our donors and corporate partners,’ said MacFarlane. ‘Our partners are passionate about what we are doing and believe in developing the next generation of talented artists. They support us through a range of different programs.'

Graduates receive assistance in many ways, including financial. Since the start of 2016, Helpmann’s programs have provided support valued at over $650,000 to more than 950 emerging creatives, and enabled over 70 artists to pursue professional development opportunities overseas and interstate.

The Helpmann Fellowships, supported by The James and Diana Ramsay Foundation, provide up to $20,000 to each Fellow. ‘The Fellowships enable emerging creatives to develop their artistic vision. The grants are generally for artists looking for opportunities that they can’t gain in South Australia, so much of those tend to be overseas – the three Fellows we supported this year are all pursuing international opportunities.'

The support isn’t just about the money; the connections that Helpmann can provide are life changing, MacFarlane told ArtsHub.

‘We are currently supporting a recent film graduate to undertake a range of professional development opportunities with some major film companies in London. We sat down with her and looked at how we can help her through our connections. We were able to introduce her to [Academy Award winning director] Scott Hicks, who is one of our Patrons. '

Olivia Dryden, another recent Fellowship recipient explains, ‘Helpmann have been there for me in so many ways – they have been a source of knowledge, support, networking, and countless opportunities for professional development. Thanks to Helpmann, I have grown so much as an artist and their continuing support really has been life changing.’

Unique programming is not just about the art

The Helpmann Academy’s unique programming model creates initiatives that will better prepare students for a career in the arts.

We have just launched our new Activate Seminar series, designed to support artists in building their business and entrepreneurial skills.’ said MacFarlane.

The first Activate Seminar looked at protecting yourself when entering into a contract – crucial information for freelance artists.

Read about the Helpmann Academy's Activate Seminars

At the heart of everything the Helpmann Academy does, is the belief that the arts are an essential part of society, and that the talented and dedicated emerging artists they support are valuable contributors, who deserve to be encouraged and celebrated.

A career in the performing or visual arts is a tough road to tread. Helpmann aims to develop connections and pathways for successful and sustainable careers, and walk alongside emerging artists as they make they make the transition from study to professional practice.

By uniting the educational community in South Australia, The Helpmann Academy is enabling a bright future for arts education in Australia.

Helpmann’s core funding program, the Regular Grant round, offered twice a year, is currently open for applications. Nicholas Pennington, received Regular Grant funding to travel to NYC to further his career and has recently received a $90,000 scholarship from Manhattan School of Music. Nicholas said, 'Helpmann Academy assist artists like me, not just in funding but guidance as well. They understand the importance of creating these opportunities, to better the artists and the wider artistic community here in South Australia.'

Click here to learn more about The Helpmann Academy.  

About the author

Andrea Simpson is an ArtsHub staff writer.