Voices from the frontline – after the flood

Following the devastation caused by the Lismore floods, NORPA's Artistic Director realised 'home is where the art is'.

Before the flood, success was everything. As in, we wanted everything – full houses to our seasons, creating and presenting sell-out homegrown original works, a significant First Nations program of new works, innovative schools touring shows, an artist development program, associate artists… Success was multi-year funding across three tiers of government and the sense that we were nationally significant, while locally relevant.

I was on a personal mission to prove that small towns have big creative hubs – that living and working regionally was not a second-tier creative life, but actually a rich, stimulating and fertile environment to create new distinctly Australian theatre. And interestingly, during the pandemic, the rest of Australia has been exploring this notion too: accelerating the pressures and opportunities for the regions and its arts communities.

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Julian Louis is the Artistic Director and CEO of NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts).