Octapod Annual Report 2013
2013 marked a turning point for Octapod as we took positive steps towards achieving our vision of a robust and sustainable creative sector, which contributes to the economic and cultural development of the region.
A priority for the year was to undertake a major rebranding process that saw Octapod more confidently assert itself as the producer of its projects. Having spent years quietly supporting its projects, 2013 saw a move towards better and bolder brand recognition for Octapod. As well as developing a suite of new communications collateral, we also worked towards integrating our three websites into the main Octapod site. The website now clearly visually presents Octapod as the producer of its projects and we are pleased by the impact of this simple yet effective design.
A major achievement was the rapid development of our Creative Access Program. After dabbling in the arts and disability space since 2010, we found ourselves in a prime position to respond to the launch of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Newcastle in July 2013 by developing new models to support participation in the arts by people with disability. This new program was made possible through seed funding from the City of Newcastle, who worked closely with us as partners on this initiative.
In seeking to build connections between the arts and disability sectors, our success has been measured through brokering art sales and employment for artists with disability, referring an artist with disability to an inclusive art studio where he could further his practice and the positive feedback from Creative Access Network members who have valued the opportunity to share information, gain peer support and be inspired by each other’s experiences.
2013 marked a coming of age for two of the TiNA participating festivals. National Young Writers Festival turned Sweet Sixteen and Critical Animals turned Ten. These milestones brought both a sense of celebration and reflection to This is Not Art as we partied through the night at the Critical Animals party and admired their published anthology. We were very excited to offer a one day Electrofringe Showcase featuring a curated program presenting exciting and innovative new media and electronic art projects from around Australia and overseas.
As in previous years, TiNA attracted both local and out of town visitors, drawn to Newcastle by the opportunity to network with like minded creative types, develop their skills and get inspired by bold, exciting new work.
Our PODspace program changed shape during 2013 – moving from a traditional gallery space to an experimental pop up format. This change was prompted by Octapod’s relocation from 401 Hunter St Newcastle to a smaller studio at the Newcastle Community Art Centre. This new model proved popular with a broader audience as we activated spaces in the Newcastle CBD. A highlight was holding an exhibition in the Station Masters Cottage at Nobby’s Lighthouse, with over 4000 people visiting the site over the two weekends of the exhibition.
Moving into 2014 we have consolidated the pop up format into a solid exhibition and education program and are excited by the possibilities that this new model brings.
As the year drew to a close we made the decision to relocate again to a brand new community hub – Pachamama House – and spent the final days of the year packing up the office again. Owned privately by a couple with a demonstrated commitment to community endeavours, we are hopeful that we will not have to move for many years! I would like to thank the board, staff and volunteers who have worked so hard during the year.
With the addition of a substantial Creative Access Program, the organisation began to reshape itself and affirmed its commitment to supporting participation in the arts by diverse communities. The rebranding process stimulated a lot of discussion around Octapod’s role in the community and 2014 will see us deliver on our renewed focus on supporting the creative sector, artists and diverse communities.
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