Alumni, Lucy Harrison, reminisces ahead of 2021 Sprung Festival

A combination of passion and inimitable creativity, the annual Sprung Festival will be presented online between October 11 to 16, 2021.

This year, the Bathurst-based cohort have prepared four student-led, written, performed, and produced instalments.

Audiences are expected to ‘leave your reality behind and fly away with us’ as this year’s productions showcase four contrasting realities.

For 2012 theatre media graduate, Lucy Harrison, Sprung Festival brings back significant social and career building memories.

“It was wonderful,” Lucy said. “I had discovered my skill set and what I felt comfortable with when I put my hand up to organise the festival.”

However, Lucy’s instalment for Sprung Festival looked vastly different to the virtual presentation students are currently preparing.

“I guess I am really lucky to have studied when I did, because it was a very social time. And there were so many activities that were organised for us. You know, there was no restrictions about density or anything like we have seen recently.”

“We found a huge marquee that had been in storage for years. We agreed to erect it outside the uni bar with all kinds of music playing,” Lucy recalled.

A strong passion of the natural environmental as well as the arts has always been a defining factor for the Sydney local. Moving to Charles Sturt’s Bathurst campus, Lucy enjoyed three years living alongside a small cohort of students who shared similar values for creativity and innovation.

(Photo contributed by Lucy Harrison)

Knowing she had the capacity to create and direct a festival like Sprung, Lucy graduated with certainty of securing a job in the industry.

“But I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Lucy said. “I applied for so many jobs – internships even – until I got an internship with a theatre company called Belvoir St.”

COVID aside, Lucy acknowledged the difficulty of working in the arts industry.

“I am glad I took a few risks with unusual jobs. For example, I worked as a stage manager in Azerbaijan, which is a very strange place with an interesting culture and language barrier. I worked on the European Summer Games which is, I guess, on a similar scale to the Olympics. It was very inspiring to see projects of that scale take shape. So, I’ve loved the variety of my career. Lots of different experiences which I’ve really enjoyed.”

(Photo contributed by Lucy Harrison)

Adventures overseas have been, what Lucy believes, as incredibly fascinating and meaningful experiences that she has been fortunate enough to share even when studying.

“One of my favourite memories of university was a study tour to Thailand, and the following year, a study tour to Bolivia as part of the TM course. And both those study tours looked at theatre as an agent for change or the arts as a vehicle for social change and working in communities working with a language barrier working, I guess, the arts to build peace or reduce conflict, and I never understood never understood those concepts until University.”

(Photo contributed by Lucy Harrison)

In 2017, Lucy made the transition from stage production to philanthropy when she took up the role as Partnerships Manager for Big hART. There, Lucy works alongside corporate and philanthropic funders as they donate and back Big hART to deliver programs and achieve positive change.

“Many Big hART projects are funded by private wealth. A philanthropist, or a donor might be a family with an issue that they’re really passionate about. There’s often a personal reason why they’re very passionate about that issue, whether it be homelessness, family violence, climate change, or it could be a really specific area like, they’re really passionate about music, to drive social change,” Lucy explained.

“At Big hART we have been very fortunate. A lot of our work has moved online. We have created podcasts and mentored our participants remotely. Because we’re based in Tasmania and Western Australia – those states have done very well with COVID – so we’ve been busy with performances, projects in those states as well as creating a unique online education platform called NEO-Learning.”

(Photo contributed by Lucy Harrison)

Although Lucy finds joy in her current job, she does reflect on her time at Charles Sturt often. Her advice, not only to fellow Theatre Media students, but to all students alike, is to make the most out of the opportunities currently available.

“Be brave! And when you graduate, try and figure out what your values are and how you can have employment that’s super, super meaningful and satisfying,” Lucy said.

Visit the Charles Sturt alumni website to find out more.