ACT Natimuk is an arts organisation that drives and presents cultural activities in the west Victorian community of Natimuk and beyond. Originally established as the Arapiles Community Theatre in 1979 and presenting musical theatre, it has evolved over the past 20 years by extending its vision. It now supports and produces arts in a variety of genres – disciplines such as dance, visual arts, film, new media, projection, aerial performance and experimental works.
Tracey Skinner, originally from Melbourne and now based in Natimuk has a background in multiple arts disciplines. Performing arts featured strongly in her earlier years, performing both in Victoria and overseas as a vocalist and dancer. She studied textile design, and worked as a costume creator and a self employed artist.
She is an Alumni of RMIT and operates a small creative studio space in her current hometown that offers movement and art. She has worked for a number of NFP organisations and through this has grown her experience of project management and community work.
After serving on the ACT Natimuk committee for a number of years, she joined the organisation as a General Manager in 2020 and loves the multi-pronged approach she needs to apply to the role. She has managed multiple projects throughout this time, producing a number of events and is now well versed in organising events with the added challenges of COVID19 requirements.
Mary French is a Natimuk artist who worked on the original Natimuk Space and Place performance in 2003 as director of shadow puppetry. Since then, she has partnered with communities across Victoria and further afield to explore aspects of environment and local culture via the mediums of light, shadow and puppetry.
In 2013 Mary studied at the Theatre of Light and Shadow in Germany with performance artists, visual artists and puppeteers from all over the world. This led to the development of ‘Lantunda’, a shadow performance that reinvents existing band rotunda structures as giant lanterns.
An artistic highlight of the last ten years was the co- creative directorship of Flock, a partnership with aerial performance company Strange Fruit, in 2011.
Working with the Bendigo community in 2018, Mary oversaw the making and activation of a series of shadow puppets for Poppet, a site-specific large scale performance on the iconic Poppet head structure in Bendigo.
Most recently, Mary directed shadow elements of ‘Galaxias’, for Geelong After Dark 2019 and worked with youth theatre company, ‘Kick Up the Arts’ to create animated screen backgrounds and props for their acclaimed production of ‘Lord of the Flies.’
During the 2020 pandemic Mary collaborated with Black Hole Theatre and artists working in the medium of puppetry to devise a film reflecting current issues.
Director, creative producer and performer Jillian Pearce established Natimuk based Y Space in 1999 to work with climbers and dancers to create unique performance events on high and iconic structures.
Large scale productions include the 10 day Colony inhabitation on the Arts Centre Melbourne Spire 2002 for the Next Wave Festival, Development of the Space and Place touring model at the Nati Frinj Biennale 2003 and RAA Conference Meeting Place 2004, Cirque de Silo 2005, Latrobe Space and Place-Commonwealth Games 2006, three Dusk performances for Nati Frinj 2017, Poppet Bendigo-State Government Commission for Regional Centre of Culture 2018; and Galaxias For Geelong After Dark in 2019.
Other projects of similar scale include; the opening of the Elements -Kowloon Hong Kong, 2007; performer for Insite Arts Advent Calendars in Federation Square 2006-09, Rehearsal director with Y Space in Highly Strung (produced by Dave Jones/Transience 2011 and Murtoa’s Stick Shed 2019) and Choreographer for Kat Pengelly’s Feeling the Ceiling in 2011.
Jillian’s freelance direction includes Strange Fruit/Art Is … Festival Flock 2011, Dookie Earthed Small Town Transformation Project 2014, Ansett Aflight Hamilton 2016 and Swan Hill‘s Fairfax Festival 2015 and 2016. Black Hole Theatre’s Vault in 2019 and Higgin’s Freda Project for the Castlemaine Festival in 2015.
She currently works part time as Public Arts Development Officer at Horsham Rural City Council.
Since graduating from the VCA, Verity has worked as a director, actor, project co-coordinator, and lecturer in performing arts.
In 2005 Verity worked in the UK as Assistant Director and actor for North Country Theatre. On returning to Australia she took up a position of Regional Arts Development Officer with Regional Arts Victoria, based in Ballarat.
During her time as a RADO Verity coordinated a wide range of regional projects including, the creation of a large platypus geoglyph on the then dry bed of lake Wendouree for the statewide Fresh & Salty project working with artists and Indigenous youth, a documentary, At The Coalface, about the role of arts in recovery following the bushfires of 2009, two youth theatre projects as part of VicHealth’s LEAP program GRIT 1&2 , and the Central Highlands Virtual Choir project. Her independently produced documentary about a community choir The Big Sing, was acquired and broadcast on the ABC in 2010.
Since returning to freelance work at the end of 2013 Verity has worked as a freelance director, actor & producer. Her most recent theatre work The Freda Experience, about pioneering Australian mountaineer Freda du Faur, had sell out seasons at both the Castlemaine State Festival and Nati Frinj in 2015. Verity coordinated the large-scale environmental knitting project, WARM for SEAM in 2016. Verity started working for ACT Natimuk on Made in Natimuk from late 2014.
Jacinda OSullivan is a writer, theatre maker and farmer living in Gre Gre, Victoria. More recently she completed a Creative Workers in School project with Regional Arts Victoria making theatre and digital arts with students at St Arnaud Secondary College. She has held roles as the Director of The Awakenings Festival -an all abilities arts festival in Horsham and Editor of the North Central News St Arnaud. She is a member of St Arnaud Arts Council presenting theatre shows in rural and remote areas and facilitating art projects to happen in regional Victoria.