2019 Mickey Miners Award Winner:
Introduction to Yvette Hardie
This year the award goes to a Capital A Advocate. Advocacy is hard: often invisible, always complex, working behind the scenes, hard to classify, difficult to do and with constant set-backs. This person has held office on the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ International for 11 years, 8 of these as President and under her leadership the Association has reached new heights of inclusion, activity and diversity of form and membership. She has personalised the association, enabling more access, more generosity and greater equality, bringing artistic practice to the fore and bringing people together more often.
This person speaks with great power and warmth around the world on the vital place of theatre for children and youth in all our lives; the benefits of TYA to education, health and well-being, the rights of the child to the arts and culture, the impact of TYA as an art form and its influence on the wider industry. We and many others have witnessed her clarity, commitment and influence, her ability to negotiate and strategize, her deep passionate belief in TYA practice and practitioners world wide and her sensitivity to cultural demands and challenges that create barriers to this practice.
Yes, we are talking about Yvette Hardie.
Yvette understands impact. Her own practice in South Africa has been as director, performer and theatre maker, but also as educator and policy maker. She has created hundreds of opportunities for local practice there to expand nationally, across the continent and across the world, fighting for recognition of African work in a Eurocentric paradigm. She knows how to work in difficult political and social situations, how to open doors and, vitally, how to make new doors for people to open.
In 2017 Yvette and her extraordinary team created the Cradle of Creativity in Cape Town South Africa, hosting the World Congress of ASSITEJ with around 1400 delegates from all over the world, over 60 shows, bussed in thousands of children to see shows, took shows out to neighbourhoods and created 4 artistic hubs, so that local people were able to be central to the festival: this was a first for the African continent and it welcomed and supported African countries to attend, take part as young emerging artists and speak and play with the rest of the world. Not only was this single event a success, but Yvette has found a way to extend the Cradle of Creativity to become an on-going event, also partnering with, among others, the Pan African Creative Exchange: This entire event was mission impossible, and yet she found new ways of doing things, new ways of creating opportunity, fuelled with courage and conviction.
In our sector, we are all aware of how much we have to push and argue for recognition of the value of what we do, with gatekeepers monitoring children’s access to theatre and the arts. Despite our diverse visions and goals, our different needs and markets, our focus on different audiences, all of us need advocates who never give up; advocates of the stature of Yvette Hardie.
The 2019 Mickey Miners award goes to Yvette Hardie!
Yvette Hardie's Acceptance Speech
It is such an honour to be standing here - truly one of those “pinch-myself” moments. I feel humbled to read the names of those who have received this award before me, and whose dedication, artistry and drive have been so inspirational to me in my own journey.
Thank you to Boomer Stacey and the IPAY jury for this accolade.
I feel very privileged to work in a field where I am surrounded by people whose open-heartedness, intelligence, creativity and deep commitment on multiple personal, social and political levels is so very much in evidence. They inspire me, provoke me and push me to want to do more and to do it better. They are my extended family, and they are my inspiration.
I feel very privileged to work with and for children and young people whose capacity to overturn our preconceptions and engage wholeheartedly with the experiences we offer them, is always refreshing, challenging and energising. Ultimately it is what gives me hope, even as I find myself deeply affected (and sometimes jaded) by the many turbulent, terrible and divisive developments we see in our world today.
I also feel very privileged to be able to work at so many levels of my field – from running workshops in township primary schools to speaking to Ministers of Culture about children accessing to the arts; mentoring theatre makers as they develop new work deeply steeped in the contexts I know and experiencing entirely new cultural contexts through the work of ASSITEJ, where I need to learn everything afresh.
The work that I do is the consequence of many others’ input and support. I am deeply grateful to all my colleagues in ASSITEJ, and especially those in the Executive Committee over the last 11 years, whose energy and commitment has driven me to want to serve them better. I want to thank all the amazing people I have the privilege to work with in ASSITEJ South Africa - the staff, the board, the volunteers and the members. I want to acknowledge the South African artists whose perseverance and creativity in a challenging arts landscape makes the impossible happen for children and young people in far-flung parts of our country.
I would also like to acknowledge the very special role that certain men have played in my life. In my country, men get a pretty bad rap, and yet, I have been blessed to have been nurtured by some great ones! My surrogate grandfather, Alf Cotton, a little Victorian gentleman who read to me every day of my childhood... My mentor, Arthur Lessac, who died at the age of 101, still doing what he loved with such passion and commitment. His voice work led me towards wholeness at a time of great emotional vulnerability. My father, Allan Hardie, who some of you may have met at Cradle of Creativity, whose fierce championing of his daughters has given us a strong platform from which to fly. And of course, my husband, Simon, whose love, support and belief in me, particularly when my own is wavering, makes everything possible.
I turn 50 this year, and one of the feelings I have more and more is that nothing is irrelevant. All the disparate experiences, the crazy choices, the chance meetings, the seemingly contradictory trajectories of one’s life come together to create a kind of inevitable rightness to where one is, enriching one’s capacity to do whatever it is that one feels compelled to do.
I feel humbled by this acknowledgment and very privileged to be doing what I love and for that to be of some use to others. So thank you for this recognition. It will surely strengthen my resolve to continue to do more.