Octapod AGM: New board | Annual Report 2014

At the Octapod Annual General Meeting held on Monday 15 June 2015, all existing board members successfully re-nominated for the board, and were joined by two new members, Bill Robertson and Jo McGregor. The Octapod board now consists of: Richard De Martin (Chair), John Biswas (Deputy Chair), Amanda Macokatic (Treasurer), Mitch Davies (Secretary), Martin McKenzie (General Member), Bill Robertson (General Member) and Jo McGregor (General Member).

In 2014 Octapod re-framed its core business as part of a broader strategic planning review. Whilst retaining our role as a producer, facilitator and broker of community driven innovative arts and cultural activities, we re-articulated our three priority areas to make it simpler to explain our unique program. We build capacity within the creative sector, support career development for artists, and develop new ways to support participation in the arts by diverse communities.

In seeking to build on the rebranding process carried out in 2013, we actively sought to engage with the community to enable us to develop our audiences, secure strong partnerships and generate income.

An unexpected result of this community engagement strategy was the development of a new partnership with the City of Newcastle and the Business Centre (Newcastle Region) to deliver Smart Arts, a creative industries and cultural sector development program specifically designed in response to the needs of the Hunter region’s artists, creative practitioners, and arts/cultural professionals.This project launched in late 2014 with ‘The Business of Being Creative’, a workshop tailored to the professional development needs of artists. Following a review of the pilot program in mid 2015, we expect that this program will expand in 2016 to support art form specific creative business needs.

Our commitment to developing creative industry capacity was further evidenced by our Creative Access Program, through which we have sought to develop new models to support career development for artists with disability and inclusive arts programs.

During 2014 we also worked away behind the scenes to redevelop the Culture Hunter site. As the online arts directory and information hub for the creative community of the Lower Hunter region, this website provides vital infrastructure to support cultural mapping, promotion and networking opportunities, and valuable resources for artists and arts administrators.

Our PODspace program continued in a pop up format, providing opportunities for five curators to deliver three exhibitions involving seventeen artists in diverse spaces across the Newcastle area. A highlight was the PODzome exhibition at the University of Newcastle Gallery which also acted as the launch of the This is Not Art (TiNA) online program in September 2014.

The scope of works presented at TiNA was outstanding and ranged from some of the most intimate, breath taking and thought provoking works presented publicly, on a national scale. Crack Theatre Festival, Critical Animals and National Young Writers’ Festival should be commended on the talent they brought to Newcastle and the experiences they created collectively.

During 2014 we also engaged a consultant to assist with the development of a new TINA model that would support the festival’s financial sustainability and operational efficiency. A constructive process of consultation with TINA co-presenters has resulted in a new online portal, contract and goodwill between the partners.

You can read the Octapod Annual Report 2014 to find out more about our activities during 2014. If you would like a word version of the Report, please email admin@octapod.org to request a copy.