Members of Horsham’s arts scene have shared their advice on how the next generation can forge a career in the industry.
A workshop at Horsham Town Hall this week will aim at giving them the skills to do just that.
The town hall’s team leader of technical operations, Shane Podolski, will show a few lucky 12 to 17 year-olds the ropes of theatrical lightning on Thursday as part of the Lighting FUNdamentals workshop.
“This workshop is about teaching younger people about the elements of lighting and how creative you can be,” Mr Podolski said.
“We’re going to get some lights, focus them and point them onto different surfaces to see how color works, and we’ll work with LED which is becoming the way with entertainment.”
Mr Podolski began his career in the arts as a teenager, appearing on stage in the Melbourne Gang Show, produced by the Scouts and Guides of the Melbourne area.
Here he featured alongside Shane Jacobson, now known for his television hosting gigs and performance as portaloo specialist Kenny in the film of the same name.
“From that I wanted to become an actor but I didn’t like the audition process, and I went to the Princess Theatre and they offered me a job on the original Les Miserables production, so I started when I was 17.”
Mr Podolski, who has lived all around Australia, moved to Horsham when he heard Horsham Rural City Council was renovating the town hall.
“While they were doing that, I started cheffing – I had to learn a new skill to pay the bills – and I was lucky to get the job (later at the town hall). I sort of had a lot of faith in this venue and brought my expertise to the town.”
Mr Podolski said there were no obstacles to forging a career in the arts, coming from a regional area such as the Wimmera – if anything, he said, it’s an advantage.
“If you’re in the big smoke, there are a lot of venues and a lot of crew. If you come to an area like this you don’t have a lot of crew, so there will always be some work,” he said.
Amy Anselmi and Larissa Riddell, co-founders of Smart Artz Theatre Company, share this view.
Ms Riddell said experience was what mattered most when climbing the ladder.
“With the arts, it’s so broad. The more experience you can get through school community stuff and arts festivals... it’s all going to build up a repertoire of how all things work,” she said.
“The more people you can work with the better. Look at Mark Hentsridge – I went to school with him, and after Year 12 he always did lighting and stuff with Horsham shows.
“He took off to Melbourne with some business cards, handed them out to all and sundry and ended up getting a job and went on to stage management for The Lion King. Now he’s in charge of a Disney production company where he tours the world with Disney shows.”
Ms Anselmi said people who wanted to work in the industry should know what they were getting themselves in for.
“If you think you’re going to have a career in the arts where people hand you jobs and you go from job to job, you’re a bit delusional,” she said.
“Most artists and techies – at least some of the time – will find themselves having to create their own work, to find sources of funding and benefactors. That’s what makes a life in the arts exciting, because it’s not 9am to 5pm, five days a week.”