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Geoffrey

Geoffrey Dobson

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Tasmania Arts - Visual > General
Education > Specialised Education
The Gallaugher Bequest Churchill Fellowship to investigate exceptional public and creative learning programs of leading multi-arts centres - UK, USA
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I have the privilege of managing the Burnie Arts and Function Centre, Tasmania’s largest purpose-built multi- arts centre. It incorporates theatre, performance and conference spaces, as well as a large art gallery. My background is in arts administration, having completed my Master of Fine Arts at the University of Tasmania in 2007.

I believe art centres can be much more than buildings with art on the walls and performances on the stage. Art centres can be a social focal point for any community, large or small, and provide opportunities to participate and actively contribute to the arts.

On my Fellowship I had the immense pleasure of visiting an array of world- class organisations; the experience I gained proved far broader than my initial Fellowship objective.

Many of the organisations I visited had a national focus, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The National Theatre in London. Conversely, some targeted their immediate community. It was perhaps the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, that made the greatest impression on me. (It also has the strongest parallels to the Burnie Arts and Function Centre in its location, economic environment and resources.)

Reflecting on my Fellowship, two key principles underpin my outcomes; the need to develop creative learning programs that respond to community need, and the need to actively consider ‘engagement versus alienation’ in programming.

Since I came back from my Fellowship, the Burnie Arts and Function Centre has established a dedicated space for creative learning. The Centre has also initiated a new program, Open House, aimed at using the performing arts to engage with disadvantaged young people.

Nationally, I have presented my findings at arts-related conferences and summits. I have also made my findings available to the Australian Performing Art Centres Association (APACA) network. I continue to be invited to speak in the local community.

I am married to Libby, a talented singer and performer herself, and together we have a daughter, Vera. We continue to enjoy living on the rugged Northwest Coast of Tasmania with our two dogs. 

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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