Meet Céline Thompson | Chairperson
You met Michelle St Anne at a local pub sparring about the Australian Open. If Rafa and Feds were arts organisations who would they be? (Michelle is hoping Feds would be LRT!)
If Rafa and Federer were arts organisation then Federer would be the Sydney Theatre Company – everyone knows who they are, they’ve won plenty of awards and they probably have a good looking bank account. That means Rafa would be the LRT, the loveable outsider with a certain je ne sais quoi and charisma that is integral to who they are and can’t be emulated. Most importantly Rafa and the LRT are my personal favourites! There is a difference though as LRT has been going strong for 23 years and Rafa has only won 22 grand slams.
You have been a supporter of LRT through thick and thin… what is it about the organisation that you believe in?
LRT is synonymous with Michelle St Anne and her energy, passion and vision are absolutely infectious. And then there are the works the LRT make and the spaces which Michelle has explored to bring those creations to life. For me, it’s the contemporaneous themes explored in these works that makes the LRT so important – from gendered violence to climate refugees and disability – these are the societal discussions of our time, but explored through immersive works. LRT works take hold of all of your senses through a unique combination of sounds, movement in spaces and lighting. When you’re still thinking about a work that you’ve seen days after, how can you not believe in that?!
As the new Chair with a long LRT history what have you come to know about the challenges of a small independent arts organisation like LRT?
Other than how difficult it is to get grants and funding, there are so many challenges for small independent arts organisations. One of the main ones I think is to be able to determine who their audience is whilst maintaining integrity to the work they are making. In a world of TikTok and so-called content creators, it takes resilience to keep making work that represents the organisation and what they want their work to say, or ask, or explore year after year. It’s no mean feat that LRT has continued making impactful work for 23 years in this ever-evolving space.
The other challenge is not letting governance interfere with the art and vice-versa. There is a lot of compliance involved in running a not-for-profit, including reporting to various state and federal organisations. On top of this there are contracts to be drafted, policies to be reviewed and legislation to comply with. In a small organisation, all of this governance can get in the way of producing the work particularly if the same members are wearing two hats. We have recently attempted to address this at LRT by having a separate artistic committee and governance board allowing for discussions about artistic vision to be precisely that. Apparently not everyone finds reporting obligations as interesting as me…
What would you like to see LRT achieve for the lead up to the 25th anniversary in 2025 ?
For 2025 I would love the LRT to have 2025 more audience members and 2025 thousand dollars! Jokes aside, the LRT has already achieved so much and making it to 25 years will be another huge milestone for the organisation. I would love for the LRT and Michelle to get the recognition it deserves for these years of contributions to the independent arts organisation space. More importantly, I would love for more people to be able to experience LRT works than ever before. LRT’s current works include ‘The Reckoning’ which explores structural violence to expose systems of violence, and the Deaf experience. LRT has already had some of its works viewed as part of international festivals and it would be wonderful for this to continue, whilst simultaneously growing our audience base closer to home.
Having lived in 8 different countries, Céline has learnt the importance of building and maintaining quality relationships, which forms the bases of her approach to professional life. Céline is an on-and-off lawyer with a passion for social justice and has used her skills in the not for profit sector where she has provided over 500 hours of pro-bono legal services. She speaks fluent French and conversational Spanish and Swahili. Outside of work, Céline loves making vegan dishes, going to the beach and spending time with her husband and two greyhounds.