The Artists of Colour Initiative chooses its finalists

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The Artists of Colour (AOC) Initiative, the scholarship competition that supports talented theatre performers based in Australia who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour, has announced its finalists, chosen from a list of 30 semi-finalists. The AOC Initiative was created by People of Colour for People of Colour fighting for change in the Australian musical theatre industry.

The six finalists are Grace Driscoll, Jarrod Draper, Lauren Cheok, Martha Berhane, Milo Hartill-Batsietswe and Raphael Wong.

l-r: (top) Angelina Thomson, Lauren Cheok, Martha Berhane. (bottom) Jarrod Draper, Milo Hartill-Betsietswe & Raphael Wong
l-r: (top) Angelina Thomson, Lauren Cheok, Martha Berhane. (bottom) Jarrod Draper, Milo Hartill-Betsietswe & Raphael Wong

“When founding the AOC Initiative, I expected to find incredible talent. I expected to find artists of colour all over the country who were ready to show up and grab this opportunity with both hands. And I’ll have you know that the Top 6 in particular are exactly that,” stated AOC Initiative founder, Tarik Frimpong.

When Frimpong and his twenty-four panellists selected the Top 30 they didn’t anticipate the immediate formation of such an incredibly supportive community, he added. “Sitting in on private AOC Initiative workshops and Q&A sessions led by industry heavyweights, Ryan Gonzalez, Will Centurion, Chloe Zuel, Rhys Velasquez, Jayme-Lee Hanekom and Gareth Jacobs brought me to tears. It was so powerful to see how the AOC Initiative applicants connected with each other, and to witness how they supported and championed one another.”

The latest AOC Initiative GoFundMe campaign has raised over $30,000 with the target goal now set to $40,000. 100% of the funds raised will be awarded to the six finalists with the winner receiving 50% of the funds, the runner up receiving 20% of the funds and the final four receiving 7.5% each of the funds. The GoFundMe campaign will close early December. 

In addition to this prize pool, the AOC Initiative has partnered with Patrick School of the Arts to offer one full or two half scholarships to attend its full time tertiary Musical Theatre Course in 2021 valued at $22,000. The School and Swinburne University of Technology offer nationally accredited VET courses in their programs.

The Top 6 finalists will also receive arts business mentorship from the team at Creative Plus Business (CPB), a social enterprise dedicated to educating creative people. The mentorship is valued at $1,320. CPB is also donating four workshops to all of the AOC Initiative artists valued at $6,000 to upskill them in business.

Energetiks will support the finalists with a $100 voucher each. 

Two AOC Initiative applicants will receive a full scholarship each valued at $12,000 to attend Village Nation Performing Arts in 2021 to receive their Diploma in Musical Theatre. Winners will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Find the 2020 AOC Initiative Top 30 and 2020 AOC Initiative panelists as well as details about the AOC Initiative here.


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