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For Arts graduate Rebecca Greenwood, the chance to take art to the masses and be an art 'match-maker' are just a couple of the challenges in her role as a Public Art Officer with the Tasmanian Department of Tourism, Arts and Environment based in Hobart.
"The thing I enjoy most about my employment is supporting artists to develop new ideas, skills and techniques and bringing contemporary art to audiences who might never set foot in a gallery. The process can be like a match-making agency - the most satisfying moments are when a building user really embraces the project and enjoys learning about art and when the artist effectively creates interesting new work that fits the site and the site's users."
Rebecca's role involves a large range of responsibilities in managing the Tasmanian Government's Art for Public Buildings Scheme, Australia's first state % for art scheme. In the Scheme, two percent of capital works budgets for new and refurbished buildings are set aside to commission works of art for the buildings. This includes sculpture, furniture, glass art, paintings, textiles, design elements and so on. Rebecca looks after the entire process, working with building users, architects and artists. She writes the art brief, co-ordinates the process of selecting artists, and oversees their contracts."
Rebecca is also a talented artist in her own right with some of her works represented in the collections of Artbank, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. However she believes that a yearning to 'simply life' and a need to support a young family led to her into the arts management.
"Up until 1998 I was an artist and I was trying to make art and work part time, as well as working as a public art consultant, curator and community artist. Then I had my first child and needed to simplify my life. I decided to focus solely on public art consultancy work and enrolled in the Graduate Certificate of Arts and Entertainment Management at Deakin."
"I started in my current role shortly after completing the Graduate Certificate of Arts and Entertainment Management with Deakin, which helped me to get my current job. So it seemed logical to come back and upgrade to a Masters during 2006 as I aim to move to more strategic roles in the future. I partly took on further study in order to develop a higher level strategic perspective, but also just for the intellectual challenge. It's very easy to get bogged down on day to day tasks. I felt I needed more 'thinking time' in my life!"
Rebecca said she enjoyed studying off-campus at Deakin and found the unit Law for Managers very challenging.
"I really liked collaborating with other students on the assignments. It was a good experience to let go of ownership. I also enjoyed writing a paper called, 'Public Relations Theory and Practice.' I wrote about two major, innovative arts and business related projects undertaken by Councils in the UK and I was thrilled when the public relations manager from one of those Councils was prepared to let me have a copy of their confidential public relations plan. I also found Human Resource Management to be an invaluable unit and very relevant given the current industrial relations climate in Australia," she said.
Rebecca has experienced numerous career highlights over the last few years including publishing a book.
"In 2005 we published a book; "Claiming Ground; twenty five years of Tasmania's Art for Public Buildings Scheme" and held a national conference on public art. Both publications highlighted that although Tasmania is a small state, and many of the projects are quite modest, it now has a fantastic collection of over 1400 works that reflects the strength of the arts community in this state."
"When I started in this role in 2001, it was a new position, so I set up a lot of systems to lift the standard for how we promoted and operated the Scheme. I've also made an effort to increase the number of Indigenous artists represented in the Scheme. Most recently that has included commissioning a display of very beautiful shell necklaces made by Indigenous women."
Prior to this, Rebecca worked on a major Centenary of Federation community art project conceived by Jack Morton Worldwide, an international event management company. She coordinated the Tasmanian involvement in a massive temporary art installation on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.
"It was very interesting to work on a large scale event and to see how the company worked through some fairly complex logistics to realise the project."
Rebecca believes that her Deakin degrees have given her a far greater confidence in how she now approaches her work.
"I've started work on a new project brokering residencies for artists in businesses and the way I am approaching the project is strongly influenced by the things I've learned in the courses. I've also just submitted an abstract to give a paper at a conference, which has been favourably received. I don't think I would have felt confident about writing and presenting a paper at such a conference, prior to finishing my Masters. In this way, the course has really boosted my confidence to proactively set and pursue career goals."
As for the future, Rebecca says that working in the overseas art world is very appealing.
"I would like to move into a more general arts management role and have the opportunity to be involved in shaping arts policy and programs in a strategic way. I would like to spend some time in the United Kingdom, looking at their arts programs. The lottery funding in the UK means there are very successful programs run by councils over there and I think we could learn from those," she said.