Creative magic: the art of collaboration

Andrea Simpson

How to meet the people you’ll be collaborating with for the rest of your life.
Creative magic: the art of collaboration

NIDA's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.

While the initial seed of creative inspiration is usually a solo affair, anyone in the arts industry will tell you that bringing your idea to life, to the public, to the stage, to the screen – is very much a team affair.

The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), one of Australia’s most respected educational institutes, understands its future creators will be working in this industry, and so its unique conservatoire model offers the constant opportunity to work on large-scale projects, with students from each specialisation contributing to the big picture in an energetic, collaborative industry atmosphere.

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‘NIDA as a whole is quite unique in that, in the one building, we have students investigating different disciplines,’ explained Mark Gaal, Director of Vocational Studies at NIDA.

‘We have performers, writers, directors, technicians, designers, prop makers, costume makers, and the list goes on.

‘In itself it’s actually a very rare thing – we have so many disciplines being investigated that when we do productions or create events, we get students from different cohorts to collaborate with each other.’

NIDA encourages its artists to bring their creative vision to life with the collaborative, co-operative teamwork you’d find in any professional film/TV set or theatre company, with each artist contributing their special skill to the greater picture.  NIDA is able to offer this through its conservatoire model – ‘learning by doing’ – and the many available specialties across its Diploma, Bachelor and Masters courses.

‘It means that whether you are enrolled in a Diploma Course, a Bachelor of Fine Arts,  or Master of Fine Arts– there are times when the study of all of those can intersect, resulting in large collaborative events,’ Gaal told ArtsHub.

These large collaborative events include NIDA’s October Season of Student Productions, which brings in hundreds of audience members every night, or NIDA’s music video collaboration with triple J Unearthed, which brings students’ work to a national new media platform.

Supplied, Photo by Patrick Boland.

Opening doors to the industry

NIDA also emphasises the collaborative experience it can give its students through external industry placements.

Gaal said: ‘This year RGM Productions – the company that puts on musicals such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert  led a two-week workshop at NIDA, developing a new musical with students including our Diploma of Musical Theatre students.

‘As part of their course work, students got to spend two weeks with leading industry professionals.’

NIDA’s technical students also receive an enriching collaborative experience.

‘As an example, we find placements for our technical diploma students at  organisations with which we have strong relationships.’

NIDA has cultivated ties with Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Belvoir St Theatre, Pinchgut Opera, Bell Shakespeare, City Recital Hall, and other companies and venues across the performing arts and entertainment industry

‘NIDA is fortunate to have strong partnerships with theatres, and with production companies,’ Gaal said. ‘It means that our technical students have meaningful experiences related to their training with these organisations.’

Such training within the industry creates clear career pathways for students, which is something NIDA prides itself on.

‘We know that these parts of the course actually do give students contacts and networks through which to then find work,’ said Gaal.

‘One of our goals is to empower our students to be able to take the skills and knowledge that we give them and to experiment. NIDA graduates are custodians, the next generation of storytellers and creators – so we give them a process for what we consider the best current practice,’ he emphasised.

‘We arm them with skills and knowledge so they can then utilise these to re-define the industry as we know it.’

Applications to study at NIDA are open during July–September each year. Register your interest and find out more about learning in a conservatoire environment at NIDA: apply.nida.edu.au

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy