On Leaving and Returning: a case study of Kiri Morcombe, Forum Creative Producer

10 Oct, 2022

Kiri Morcombe’s professional story reflects many ACT creative stories: she was raised in Canberra and left to seek professional opportunities in a larger city, working in Sydney for many years. She returned to Canberra in 2021 with a young family, and the Creative Recovery and Resilience Forum team was lucky to recruit her as our Creative Producer.

Kiri joined the Forum team in December 2021, a short time before we presented our first activity, Keeping it Together. She met the challenge of picking up the project in medias res, setting the pace for the 9 months of creative producing that followed. Kiri immediately grasped our collaborative and responsive approaches that leveraged shared knowledge and resources, generously contributing her broad experience and skills to meet the brief.

But Kiri’s work went deeper than just delivering in response to our brief to produce 9 activities related to creative sector recovery and resilience. In her role as Forum Creative Producer, Kiri kept her eye trained on how we built relationships with our diverse stakeholders, how they were invited to contribute and participate, and how we developed shared understandings of what the Creative Recovery and Resilience Forum was for. The content was never considered in isolation from the invitation to partake of the content.

An important part of this was Kiri sharing her own story of leaving and returning. With each of our 95 artists contracted to work with the Forum team, Kiri invested plenty of time in conversation: ‘…each time we engaged an artist, I would spend no less than an hour with them talking’.

The conversations covered important business matters regarding fees for service. But these business matters rested on carefully developed mutual understandings that came through sharing information about Kiri’s own background and experiences, and reflecting together on ACT’s creative sector now, compared with how it was then.

The cumulative power of this work is seen in our final Forum event, Keeping it Real, that engaged 100 of ACT’s creative sector participants, many of whom returned after participating in a prior Creative Recovery and Resilience event. To develop and maintain so many relationships is testament to Kiri’s personal approach. Kiri said: ‘I’m just struck now by how much of that work took place in those one hour conversations’.

Kiri shared our project values that committed to:

  • experimental and creative-led approaches that actively sought new ways of doing
  • equity in representing the spectrum of ACT creative stakeholders

In her work, these values were never met by mere box-ticking. A powerful example is seen in Kiri’s approach to First Nations engagement. While we had committed to delivering one First Nations-led Forum activity, Kiri developed this commitment into the idea of a ‘golden thread’ running through our activities. Rather than a token gesture, First Nations artists were engaged throughout our events, and First Nations businesses were selected for event services such as catering.

Kiri credits her work as Forum Creative Producer with an unparalleled opportunity to get to know the ACT sector once more, and to bring in some of her expertise from beyond our jurisdiction. She has demonstrated her emerging specialism in ethical practice and First Nations cultural competence.