Actor, voice-over artist, television presenter, writer, director and producer Kylie Bracknell and composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford and are among the winners in the 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards. While there are traditionally three awards, the 2020 awards have been given to eight winners, who each receive $25,000. Alongside Bracknell and Ford are Queensland’s Metro Arts, dance-theatre artist Sally Chance, Tasmania’s Echo Ensemble, audio-visual artist Robin Fox, theatre maker Sean Pardy, and The Street Theatre from the ACT.

Kylie BracknellKylie Bracknell. Photo courtesy of the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards

“The pandemic has been devastating for artists and everyone working in arts and culture in Australia,” said Andrew Myer AM, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund. “In light of that, the Sidney Myer Fund acted decisively to rethink how we present the Awards. Instead of awarding the usual three annual prizes – the Group Award, the Individual Award and the Facilitator’s Prize – we elected to support eight prizes of $25,000 across the whole country, to celebrate the winners’ achievements and to recognise the role they play in affirming our country’s sense of self. We know this will make a difference both to individual artists and companies and are delighted that we are able to support Australia’s cultural life at this difficult time for many.”

Bracknell is currently Associate Artist at the Perth Festival, where her recent successes have included Fist of Fury Noongar Daa, Bruce Lee’s 1972 classic dubbed in Noongar language – the first feature film ever to be re-voiced in an Australian language – and her Noongar-language reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hecate.

“I am incredibly overjoyed to be a recipient of a Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award,” Bracknell said. “More than just an acknowledgement of me as an artist, this Award also recognises first peoples and our languages. I have never won an award in my life but my gosh what an award to be my first! I do not expect awards organisations to notice what I’m doing. I am devoted to purposeful work celebrating deep connection, like the ancestors before me who more masterfully told stories on our beloved Noongar boodjar (land) since the first heartbeat. Arts and culture is my blood type and I am a regular donor, hopefully saving a few lives and encouraging vitality. Works like Hecate and Fist of Fury Noongar Daa are all-encompassing with a massive community and Country to consider. The strength of our work is a reflection of the strength of our relationships and having people trust you to do that work is an Award in itself. My sincerest gratitude to the Sidney Myer Fund and the Myer Foundation.”

Andrew FordAndrew Ford. Photo © Jim Rolon

Ford is well-known for his books on music – his most recent, written with Anni Heino, is The Song Remains the Same – his work as a broadcaster on Radio National and his own compositions. “I had to look up the word ‘facilitator’,” he said. “Apparently, it’s someone who helps, which is a nice thing to have won a prize for, even if I’m not sure how I did it. I suppose the music I write gives people something new to play, and perhaps, in some way, helps those who listen to it, though I couldn’t say how. As a writer of articles and books and as the presenter of The Music Show on Radio National, I certainly hope to help readers and listeners to a better appreciation of the music they hear, and on radio that’s done by helping other musicians talk about it. I enjoy all this immensely and, what’s more, get paid for it, but I am, nevertheless, very grateful for the prize and the prize money. As with other musicians, my 2020 was pretty lean, and it will be good to be able, finally, to fix my leaking roof.”

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