Education at the Glasshouse

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The Glasshouse plays an important educational role in our community, helping to supplement school curriculums and providing development opportunities for both students and teachers.

Bec Washington – Event Services Coordinator and Niomi Sands – Gallery Curator give us some insight into what we can expect from the Glasshouse’s educational programme, which was launched just recently …

What is the Glasshouse’s ethos/purpose in providing educational opportunities to primary, secondary and home school students?

Bec: Since opening, over 28,000 students have participated in the performing arts and gallery education programmes at the Glasshouse – participation in live theatre, workshops, and visual arts provides experiences that can build awareness of our own culture, other cultures, build empathy and understanding and reinforce a sense of belonging. At its core, the Education programme wants to fire the imagination of students of all ages and provide new ways for them to interact and learn about the world around them – but at the same time, it has to be fun!

At the Glasshouse we endeavour to create a programme that works alongside the wonderful work that our schools do to enhance a student’s educational journey.

Niomi: Glasshouse Regional Gallery education programmes provide quality arts and cultural learning opportunities for students and teachers through exhibition focused professional development events, gallery tours, talks and workshops. Students are inspired to create, participate and learn through art making and innovative discussions.

The new Education Programme at the Glasshouse has just been released. What are some of the exciting events/exhibitions that will be available to teachers and students over the next year?

Bec: There are so many! When I determine the education programme, I’m really conscious about ensuring there are shows that cover all ages whilst remaining relevant to the curriculum and work being done in the classroom.

So for the younger children, we have The Diary of a Wombat, based on the award winning book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley and produced by Australia’s best Theatre Company for children, Monkey Baa, as well as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, that really engages children with a fun story, catchy songs and rhythmic repetition to create an interactive experience.

We also have Mr Stink for upper primary, which I’m quite excited about, because students watching the show will be having such a great time, they won’t even realise the wonderful lessons within about prejudice, stereotypes and human relationships.

I’m also really excited about DRACULA for secondary school students! I have personally seen this show and it’s amazing – the set, costumes, script and acting are world class, and it’s brought to us by Shake and Stir Theatre Company, who presented Wuthering Heights at the Glasshouse this year …

In 2017 I’m really pleased to present The Merchant of Venice by Bell Shakespeare.Bell Shakespeare are the masters at modern reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s plays, and Merchant is a wonderful opportunity for students to truly appreciate Shakespeare’s work, as it takes them on a journey of love, mercy and justice.

Niomi: In 2017 the gallery will be presenting a dynamic programme of exhibitions that will inspire our educational audiences and foster creative learning. Exhibition highlights include Theatres of War: Wartime Entertainment & the Australian Experiences, Operation Art, Being Tiwi and Shapeshifters: 3D Printing the Future.

A diverse programme of workshops, teachers’ professional development opportunities and tours will accompany these exciting exhibitions.

The Education Programme is not just about coming to view an exhibition, or see a show. What other opportunities are available to students?

Bec: With the performing arts education programme I always spend a great deal of time working with Producers to devise workshops that complement the learning they are doing at school. The benefit of our Education Programme is that the best actors, dancers, musicians and artists are coming to our town. This creates opportunities for students to work directly alongside these people to learn valuable skills in their particular area of study.

In 2017 students will be able to participate in workshops with the best classical dancers in Australia, experience a masterclass with a world renowned musician and audition to receive a scholarship to live and work with some of the best actors in the world.

Niomi: The gallery is proud to present a selection of new workshop programmes. This includes two new workshops, B is for Bicycle and Incredible Insects that inspire primary students to let their imagination go wild while engaging with quality learning outcomes, as well as exciting day excursion experiences in partnership with Port Macquarie Library and Port Macquarie Museum to encourage students to participate in innovative hands on creative, heritage and new technology learning.

What professional development opportunities are available for teachers?

Niomi: The gallery will be present three exciting professional development opportunities for primary and secondary teachers in conjunction with Operation Art, Being Tiwi and Shapeshifters: 3D Printing the Future. As part of these workshops, teachers will be encouraged to learn how to develop inspired creative programmes, engage students with contemporary art and utilise cutting edge technology within the classroom.

What has been the most rewarding part about being involved with the Education Programme at the Glasshouse?

Bec: The Education Programme is one of the most loved aspects of my job. I have built some wonderful relationships with educators all around the Mid North Coast, and I value their contribution when they keep me abreast of curriculum objectives and basically tell me what they need their Glasshouse to deliver!

Just seeing the excitement and joy (and noise!) that the students show when they are coming to a show is amazing.

I love live performance, and I am driven to break down the perception that theatre is somehow high-brow or “not for everyone”. I’m motivated to ensure that future generations get to learn that going to the theatre is as easy and as accessible as going to the movies or seeing live music.

Niomi: One of most rewarding parts of my role at the Glasshouse is seeing how inspired students get when they participate in our exhibition tours and creative workshop programmes. Each student lights up when they create their artwork, and you can see the joy and sense of achievement in their faces – you just know they have had an experience that they will remember for years to come!

Thanks Bec and Niomi.                   

Interview by Jo Robinson.

Note: Within a week after its Thursday 11 November release, the 2017 Education @ the Glasshouse Programme had already received 3,945 reservations for performances, workshops and tours. For more info, visit

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