Sydney’s leading provider of performance programs for people with lived experience of homelessness, Milk Crate Theatre, has announced new funding from the Australia Council for its 2019 major work – Natural Order, alongside the appointment of new Artistic Director, Margot Politis, and a new board member, with Homelessness NSW Senior Policy and Research Officer Digby Hughes joining the organisation.
CEO Judith Bowtell welcomed the promotion of Ms Politis to the Artistic Director’s role and Mr Hughes to the board saying these renowned industry leaders would bring a combined 35 years of experience across the sectors of mental health, homelessness and theatre to Milk Crate Theatre.
“Their expertise and influence will be crucial as we look to further develop accessibility of practice, community arts and cultural development, youth programming and achieving further creative collaborations and strategic goals in our mission to change the story of homelessness through 2018,” Ms Bowtell said.
Ms Politis, previously Milk Crate Theatre’s Associate Director, brings over 15 years of practise to her new appointment. She is a highly regarded leader in NSW inclusive arts practice as a performer, choreographer, and devisor of new dance theatre and performance installations. She has led the development and delivery of Milk Crate Theatre’s successful Headway Program.
Through her passion for Arts and Disability practice and mental health advocacy, Ms Politis has facilitated renowned works, and travelled internationally for residencies and skills development. She established Self Help Arts in 2015, focusing on interdisciplinary and immersive performance work that explores social, medical and historical theories related to mental health.
Her dedication and passion has seen Ms Politis consult on Arts and Health policy and participate in many sector events including the MCA Mental Health Awareness Week forum.
“Milk Crate Theatre is an unique intersection of art, accessibility, and social justice advocacy. Over the past year we have really solidified our processes that offer educated and genuine access to artistic expression, by people who have lived experiences of homelessness and mental health support needs. I feel incredibly honoured to accept this role, and look forward to an amazing year ahead,” said Ms Politis.
The appointment of Digby Hughes to Milk Crate Theatre’s Board of Directors is an exciting step forward for the company, with Mr Hughes applying knowledge and networks from over 20 years in the community sector focused on advocacy, policy and service delivery.
Outside his role at Homelessness NSW, Mr Hughes has also served as Vice-President of the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and is currently a Director of Amelie Housing – the St Vincent’s De Paul Housing Company.
Chair of Milk Crate Theatre, Michael Sirmai commented, “I am delighted that Milk Crate Theatre is promoting Margot and appointing Digby. Margot has made a significant contribution to the Company in the last couple of years and will deliver strongly in this key role.
“We are also fortunate to welcome Digby given his significant experience in the homelessness sector. He will help us to evolve and deepen our impact as we enter the second year of our refreshed strategy.”
The organisation also received confirmation of its Australia Council funding for next year’s major work Natural Order, a new multidisciplinary performance work complete with an immersive installation experience comprising of live performance, film, sound and movement. Performances are scheduled in Homelessness Week, August 2019.
This year Milk Crate Theatre will expand its Headway and Pathways Programs, projects run in conjunction with TAFE NSW using performance and mentorship to provide participants with alternative pathways into tertiary studies.