Isabella is young and emerging artist from the Gold Coast. She is passionate about several different art forms – film, theatre, music, dance and writing – and is exploring the fusion of these art forms with a focus on cultural diversity. She is currently partaking in a program called Navigate with Gold Coast City Council, which has supported her artistic development through funding, industry insight and networking and career development opportunities. Isabella profiled Maryann Talia Pau for our Creative Lives project.
Being Australian and Japanese, she is also involved with the multicultural scene on the Gold Coast. For the last three years, she has been a Youth Ambassador for the Multicultural Communities Council GC, where she acts as a representative for culturally diverse youth and works to uplift and connect youth of all backgrounds living on the Gold Coast. She also runs dance and music classes and workshops with Multicultural Families Organisation for children from refugee and immigrant families.
Isabella sat down to tell us a little about herself.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up on the Gold Coast in a multiracial family – I’m Australian and Japanese. It feels really cool to be a part of two different cultures but I experience the struggle common for biracial people of feeling like you can never fit perfectly into either one. It can be really isolating but I’ve learnt to embrace this space of “in between” and I now love using the word “hybrid” instead of “half” this and “half” that.
It’s empowering to think that this mixture of cultures doesn’t make me incomplete or alien but actually makes me stronger and more unique.
I feel this way about my arts practice as well. All my life, I’ve loved many different art forms like film, theatre, music, dance and writing and I have never really been able to box myself into just one. I strive for my work to be a “hybrid” of different art forms and I love the way these art forms intertwine and make a piece more powerful and captivating. I’m currently a part of Gold Coast City Council’s Young Artist Development Program, Naviagte, which has been a really great opportunity for me to explore the arts with freedom and individuality. The program has fostered my artistic development and has taught me a lot about the industry, all whilst giving me opportunities to meet some incredible artists and art workers and see some amazing work.
What drew you to working with DARTS?
I wanted to connect with an organisation that unites and celebrates culturally diverse artists and their work and one whose core values and ideals I aligned with. DARTS is so in touch with this particular space, acting almost like an industry ‘hub’ for culturally diverse artists. They are so welcoming to everyone, especially young and emerging artists, and are focussed on creating a more accepting and equal industry, which is exactly what I believe in.
Why is cultural diversity in the arts important to you?
It’s important to me personally because it’s where my two worlds collide. Naturally, my passion for the arts and my cultural identity both play an important role in my life and culturally diverse arts is a space where I feel accepted and embraced.
It’s also about representation. Everyone needs to feel heard and they also need to feel like their voice is important.
The arts can have a significant impact on society so it’s important to consider the messages we are conveying through arts and whose stories we are telling.
Can you tell us a bit about cultural diversity on the Gold Coast? What’s happening in the arts?
I think 2018 was a great year for culturally diverse artists or just citizens living on the Gold Coast with it being the home of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Aside from the games uniting people from all over the world, our city has been working hard for years before to strengthen our arts sector and has made a significant effort to highlight culturally diverse communities and arts. I really hope to see this continue even now the games are over.
Do you think advocacy organisations like DARTS can make a difference?
Certainly. In regards to giving opportunities to culturally diverse artists, having an organisation that specifically focuses on this space and the work within it means that they are the priority and can’t be overshadowed by other work. By using this organisation as a platform, culturally diverse art is getting more exposure and it’s relevance and importance is being realised.
Do you think the Australian creative sector will become more culturally diverse in the future?
I definitely think so. We can see what is happening in the world at the moment and how people are fighting against marginalisation and discrimination and culturally diverse artists and their work are beginning to get the recognition and support they deserve. I definitely think Australia’s arts industry is already reflecting this and considering how culturally diverse Australia is as a country, it just makes sense that this would be the direction we are going in.
What do you think are the benefits of volunteering?
I have spent the last two years volunteering for different organisations and groups within the arts and multicultural scene and it has all been a really great learning opportunity. Going into university straight out of school was not the best option for me because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do and if what I wanted to do was even a career path I could follow. Getting experience with different organisations whose values and goals align with my own really helped me develop a better understanding of what I want to pursue in the future. Volunteering can teach you so much if you choose to do it with organisations or for a cause you are passionate about and are willing to commit to.
Are you a writer like Isabella?
Want to volunteer to interview diverse artists for our Creative Lives project?