Q&A with Bettina Richter

27 Nov 2017 /

We recently had a chat to Bettina Richter, Media & Communications Manager at Big hART to talk about the organisation’s recent Namatjira project, and Big hART’s plenary presentation Driving Creative Practice from Remote Locations – The Producer, the Publicist and the Choreographer at Artstate Lismore.

Can you tell me a bit about the Namatjira project?

Big hART was invited into the Hermmansburg community by the Namatjira family over 8 years ago to help bring about change and renewal, the objective of all our work was to restore justice to the Namatjira family and win back copyright for the family. Highlights of Big hART’s work with the community include producing the internationally acclaimed theatre show ‘Namatjira’ which toured nationally and to the UK to an audience of 50,000, and went on to win 4 awards including a Helpmann, Sydney Theatre Award and Arts Hub Award. Big hART also facilitated for the Namatjira family a private meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and facilitated over 23 contemporary watercolour exhibitions, produced a CD, webcasts, and an iPAd painting APP, 28 conference presentations in Australia and overseas, and delivered over 1700 workshops, working with 995 Indigenous community participants. The 8 year campaign peaked this year when Big hART and the Namatjira family together established the independent Namatjira Legacy Trust and released the acclaimed feature documentary Namatjira Project which premiered at Melbourne International Film Festival and has screened in cinemas nationally around the country, with mounting media and public pressure leading to the incredible historic resolution in October which saw the copyright handed back to the family after decades of injustice.

What was it like working with Big hART on a campaign like Namatjira?

I have only worked with Big hART for 18 months, so feel very honoured to be a small part of the picture and part of an incredible 8 year campaign with the Namatjira family alongside Scott Rankin and Sophia Marinos from Big hART, whose dedication to the cause and attention to detail was second to none. This is true to say of all of the team of Big hART, they are all really very passionate, driven individuals who are inspiring to be around. My work has particularly been focused on driving the media campaign this year which began at the launch of the independent foundation Namatjira Legacy Trust, and continued to build to the release of the Namatjira Project documentary and then of course the incredible win for the Namatjiras. The Namatjira campaign is probably the most important and largest media campaign I’ve ever run. Whilst the success in such a campaign as a publicist is normally measured by the amount of media captured, and it did receive an extremely high level of support and backing from national and also international media, the success for me is to see justice restored to the family, and to see justice for Indigenous Australia.

You’re on an Artstate panel with fellow Big hART colleagues Rose Ricketson (Producer) and Adelina Larsson (Associate Artist). Besides the recent Namatjira victory, what are you most looking forward to discussing?

We are looking forward to sharing the behind-the-scenes of Big hART’s award-winning work, particularly our work in the Pilbara where Adelina has worked as a Choreographer and movement specialist on some amazing inspiring projects from the acclaimed theatre show Hipbone Sticking Out, to the new show in development Tjaabi to working with young women utilising body work as a means for building self-confidence and self-esteem. Rose will share her journey with Project O, a nation-wide movement which enables young women to be change-makers in their communities, and step up and speak out on family violence, with a massive event happening this Thursday at the National Art Gallery of Australia Colourathon, which will see over 1000 people colour for change in a 12 hour art marathon. I am looking forward to sharing some insights as a publicist based in a remote location on the far south coast of NSW, and how I promote and communicate creative practice in traditional and social media.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at Artstate Lismore?

As someone who works solo in a regional location with colleagues far away, I really enjoy going to conferences and getting out there with like-minded people, so I’m also just simply looking forward to meeting old friends and new in the industry, in the flesh! Sharing ideas and sparking the imagination and the mind. I am also looking forward to hearing Karoline Trollvik’s Keynote about the origins and journey of Norway’s Riddu Riđđu festival, how it fostered pride and inclusion from the Sámi community and also generated inter-cultural indigenous exchange and knowledge.
Catch Bettina Richter at the panel Driving Creative Practice from Remote Locations – The Producer, the Publicist and the Choreographer on Saturday 2 December at Artstate Lismore.

Images: (Top) Bettina Richter, (Middle) Kevin and Lenie Namatjira ready to go into Buckingham Palace, photo courtesy of Big hART, (Bottom) Patrick Churnside from the Tjaabi Project, photo by Frances Andrijich, courtesy of Big hART.