The Arts Wellbeing Collective believes the perspectives of performing arts workers with lived experience of mental distress are vital to our program design, delivery, and evaluation.
To support this goal, the Collective has brought together a diverse group of talented and insightful performing arts workers with lived experience of mental distress to be our inaugural Lived Experience Advisory Group.
Advisory Group members are paid for their time, perspectives, and expertise, and are united by a desire to contribute to positive change in the performing arts. We are so grateful to each of them.
Learn more about this exciting group, below:
Lived Experience Advisory Group 22-23
Multi-Award winning performer, writer, and mentor
Andi Snelling is a multi-award-winning performer, writer, director and mentor. She explores boundary-pushing theatre, and is an Australia Council for the Arts Future Leader 2022-23.
Along with 10+ years experience facilitating Empathy in Medicine training, Andi has lived and studied the creative arts in Berlin, London and Melbourne. Her impressive list of career highlights includes Picnic at Hanging Rock (BBC), Neighbours (Fremantle Media) and the Inflight Voice for Qatar Airways.
With a repertoire of four critically acclaimed solo shows, her new hit show, type-a-poet, was nominated for Best in Experimental Award at Melbourne Fringe 2022 and is now touring to major festivals.
Andi is also no stranger to directorial success, gaining acclaim at Adelaide Fringe and NZ Fringe for her work on Sheltered by Kathryn Hall and Same-Same 2.0 by No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability respectively.
Andi is passionate about the intersection of art and health and is an ambassador for the Lyme Disease Association of Australia, and works as a Disability Inclusion Facilitator for Purple Orange. Andi also runs her own arts coaching business, Kick Up The Arts.
Theatre Maker, community Arts Facilitator, and AD
Chris Dunstan is a Melbourne-based theatre maker, community arts facilitator and artistic director. He has had work presented around Australia, including venues in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Chris has facilitated groups of young people and community members in the making of original performances with companies such as Shopfront Arts, Belvoir and Back to Back Theatre.
Chris was the Artistic Director/CEO of Tantrum Youth Arts in Newcastle from 2018-21, leading an inclusive creative program, developing partnerships and prioritising accessibility.
Theatre Director and Disability arts Advocate
Dan Graham is a Theatre Director and a Disability Arts Advocate with a particular interest in access support for neuro-diverse performing artists. His Directing and access work have seen him travel all over Australia and the world to research and explore access and inclusion.
Dan has engaged with companies across Australia such as Bell Shakespeare, MTC, Sydney Festival, Sydney Fringe, Antipode Theatre Company. His recent collaborations in the US have included Roundabout Theatre Company, Atlantic Theatre Company and the Pasadena Playhouse. And in the UK he was worked with the National and the Globe Theatre.
Dan is a fellow of the Australia Council’s Future Leaders Program, an Ian Potter Foundation Scholarship, and Create NSW Fellowship recipient. He has a stellar Director resume and uses his success to advocate for other artists who identify as neuro-diverse.
Dan studied BA (Communications + Cultural Studies) and MCA (Theatre specialising in Directing) at the University of Tasmania and Honours in Performance Studies at the University of Sydney . His Honours paper focused on the playwrights intent and how this is realised in the director’s vision. Dan also hold a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
Playwright, Lecturer, and Researcher
Didem Caia is a PhD Candidate at RMIT School of Media and Communications researching Acts of Presence in socially engaged performance making.
She is passionate about community and cultural development and innovating approaches to developing live and written narratives with multicultural communities in Australia.
More recently, Didem was a 2021 UN Global Voices Scholar interested in women’s rights and violence prevention through education and is currently producing her first feature documentary in partnership with Film Victoria and Documentary Australia titled, Nobody’s Daughter.
Beginning as a playwright, Didem has been developed and produced in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. In 2015, she was a 25 under Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival to Watch. She has been awarded numerous scholarships and grants, which have taken her across the world to participate in writing festivals, conferences and residencies in the US, Turkey, Portugal and the UK.
Didem is also a lecturer in Storytelling and Scriptwriting at RMIT university.
Creative Program Manager, Music Performance UNSW
Eleasha Mah is the Creative Program Manager, Music Performance at UNSW. A purpose-led leader and a highly motivated individual, Eleasha has contributed actively to the music and cultural landscape of Australia throughout her career.
Eleasha has held positions with the Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, Opera Australia, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London, Sydney Opera House and the Arts Health Institute.
She feels everyone has a role to play in workplace wellbeing and is thrilled to join the Lived Experience Advisory Group and play a part in the realisation of the Arts Wellbeing Collective’s Vision and Purpose.
Writer, Director, and Physical Theatre Performer
Erica J Brennan is a writer (THIS IS NOT MILLS AND BOON), director (METAFOUR- four short plays by Samuel Beckett) and physical theatre performer (A MURDER STORY) living on Gadigal Land. She is a Gamillaroi woman born and raised in the Blue Mountains (Gundengurra and Darug lands).
Head to ericajbrennan.com to check out her work. Erica is also a founding member and lead devising artists for physical theatre ensemble NINEFOLD performing with the company since 2012 ninefoldensemble.com.
Erica further contributes to the arts sector as Program Coordinator and Artist Development Officer working for organisations like The Inner West Council, Penrith Performing and Visual Arts and The Sydney Fringe.
Creative Producer, Facilitator, and Curator
Erica is a Ballardong Noongar woman with Irish Convict, Scottish and Cornish Heritage.
A creative producer, facilitator and curator, Erica works across festivals, experimental and contemporary performing arts.
Through her consultancy, Art Oracle, Erica seeks to empower independent artists, provide bespoke creative and producing solutions to organisations and nurture the next generation of producers.
Dancer, Choreographer, and curator
Jonathan Homsey is a choreographer and curator working from the positionality of a Queer Person of Colour based on Wurundjeri country.
Originally an award-winning dancer for crews during the naughties in Southern California, he is humbled to be a community leader in so-called Australia for the past decade galvanising people together to dance.
From Footscray Community Arts Centre to Melbourne Museum, Jonathan specialises in platforming Street and Queer dance forms to cultivate empowerment for sexually and ethnically diverse young people. He is a recent Green Room award winner for I Am Maggie, a commission with Melbourne Fringe Festival and Arts Centre Melbourne.
Composer, Performer, and Producer
PJNoack is a Melbourne-based composer, performer and producer. His highly original music reflects a diverse range of influences including classical, experimental, minimalism, blues, pop and electronic. He studied at both Elder and Melbourne Conservatoriums.
As a producer, PJ’s work has had a strong focus within the Deaf, disabled and mental health communities and he continues to proudly work in this capacity.
PJ’s career has seen him working with many and various artists and groups across a range of projects.
Artists include pianists Fiona Corston, Chris Martin and Gareth Wiecko; percussionists Vanessa Tomlinson and Fleur Green; multi-instrumentalist Diimpa; Syzygy Ensemble; Zephyr Quartet; Restless Dance Theatre; curators Paul Greenaway and Stephanie KabanyanaKanyandekwe; others include Hossein Valamanesh, Stelarc, Mat Fraser, Quentin Kenihan and more.
Executive Director, Arts Manager, and Creative Producer
Rhen Soggee is a white migrant currently living and working on unceded Kaurna Yerta & Kulin Nations, studying on Bidjigal and Gadigal Country. They are interested in contemporary, multicultural, inter/multi-disciplinary and participatory arts. They seek to affect social change through the arts, specifically with multicultural, intersectional, feminist and queer agendas.
Rhen works with community arts and cultural development values. They delved into arts management to facilitate conversations, experiences and understanding through arts, underpinned by an ideal to foster better cross-cultural exchange in arts and beyond. They believe that immersive, participatory and challenging (multi)arts experiences can help us to reflect on who we are, how we are, and how we interact, affect, and are affected by the world around us.
Rhen, as an Arts Manager, works across executive directing, business management and creative producing roles. Rhen has worked closely with First Nations, POC, and Queer communities with a lens towards intersectional practice that embraces inclusion, sustainability, and wellbeing.
Rhen has worked across independent , Small-to-Medium orgs, Statutory Authorities and Majors, as well in event contemporary/ commercial events and a wide range of arts and cultural festivals, alongside their advocacy work particularly for Queer communities. They are currently finalising an MFA of Cultural Leadership at NIDA.
Rhen has a keen interest in contemporary and experimental arts, digital, hybrid and inter/multidisciplinary arts, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
They are currently Interim Senior Manager, Arts Programs at Carclew, Chair of Post Office Projects Galleries and Studios Board, non-executive Director on the Vitalstatistix Board, and recently completed a term on South Australia’s Rainbow Advocacy Alliance’s Community Advisory Group.