For performance artist Travis Wesley, studying USC’s Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) has opened up new career opportunities in the industry he loves.
Travis began performing in high school and studied an undergraduate degree in drama, before launching his performance career with the award-winning Brisbane company Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.
The innovative, one-year postgraduate degree allows emerging or established artists, teachers and administrators to develop the essential tools for a sustainable career in the performing arts industry.
Travis said he was inspired to enrol in the program due to a growing interest in the business side of the industry.
“Working with Zen Zen Zo had made me more confident as a performer, but I realised that skills like producing and directing, writing funding and grant applications, and understanding the administrative side of things would be really valuable for my career,” he said.
“But they’re not things you can learn on your own – you need to be mentored by professionals who are currently practising.
“So I was very interested in the opportunity to receive that mentoring in a classroom environment, while also working towards a masters qualification.”
The program develops industry-specific skills like creative entrepreneurship, career planning, marketing and production management. Students also participate in intensive performance training and wellbeing workshops designed to build “physically, vocally and emotionally capable performers”.
Travis recently performed in DUSK, a collaboration between Zen Zen Zo and acclaimed composer Richard Grantham staged at Brisbane’s Powerhouse Theatre, as part of the 2017 Restrung Festival.
However, he said the program’s combination of performance training and professional practice had also helped him discover new career possibilities.
“The cohort is a great mix of younger artists and more experienced performers – people who’ve come from different disciplines than me, or who have backgrounds in teaching or administration, which brings new perspectives that I can use moving forward,” he said.
“Through our career mapping sessions I’ve identified an interest in developing workshops that help emerging performance artists take care of their emotional and mental wellbeing.
“I’m hoping to use the skills I’ve developed in this program to acquire some grant funding, and eventually deliver those workshops in arts companies and schools.”
Applications to study USC’s Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) in 2018 close on Monday 16 October.
Image: USC student Travis Wesley performs in DUSK, a joint production between Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre and the Viola Cloning Project.