Page 3751 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022

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last night, for continuing the conversation on women in diversity and our role in strategic decision-making. I would also like to thank Belinda for helping to make the event possible and for building a community of women here in Canberra, in this instance around strategic decision-making.

I would like to recognise and thank all women who are involved in strategic decision-making. Women do have a unique approach to issues and it is always encouraging to see more women around the discussion and the decision table.

Arts—Canberra Critics Circle Awards

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (5.59): I rise to reflect on and celebrate the fantastic event held last night, being the Canberra Critics Circle ACT Arts Awards. These are very special awards for a few reasons. The Canberra Critics Circle is the only critics circle in Australia that runs across all the major artforms—music, theatre, musical theatre, dance, visual arts, books and film. The circle changes every year, depending on who is reporting or, indeed, critiquing. At the end of each year, these critics provide awards that are not best-ofs but, rather, for excellence, originality, energy and creativity. Last night, those awards occurred for the 32nd year.

Madam Speaker, I know you understand this inherently, but there really is something about being in a room so well attended after being limited due to the pandemic, and to be surrounded by an extraordinary community, to feel that spirit and to also see writ large the talent and the achievements of that community. It was remarked to me time and again last night just how much there is going on in our creative community and what a great opportunity it was to share and to celebrate that and for different artists and artforms to be exposed to each other. We know what we have here, but seeing it and celebrating it does take it to that next level.

I turn to the award winners. The Helen Tsongas Award for Excellence in Acting was established by Helen’s family, in her memory, after she and her husband tragically died in a motorcycle accident a decade ago. Helen worked in artsACT and the federal Office for the Arts, and was a notable dramatic actor. It is fitting and very moving that she is remembered each year in this way, thanks to her family.

This year the winner of this prestigious award is Karen Vickery. Karen was singled out as being at the height of her acting career, particularly following a year which saw performances in Lakespeare’s As You Like It, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women and Heartstrings Theatre Company’s Urinetown: The Musical. Karen also has a newly formed theatre company, Chaika, which is one of the companies that has established the Australian Capital Theatre Hub, which has its new season launch tomorrow night. I warmly congratulate Karen, whose award is so well deserved.

The CityNews Artist of the Year is writer Nigel Featherstone. I first met Nigel many years ago—I believe it is about a decade—when he was part of You Are Here’s Eulogy for a City, where he described his experiences to an absolutely engaged audience in Garema Place about the Heaven nightclub, which is no longer. Nigel’s storytelling left an indelible impression on me and I have followed his career since.

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