SA Life

Get CityMag in your inbox. Subscribe
May 22, 2024

This Academy could score you a slot on the WOMAD lineup

The WOMADelaide and Northern Sound System (NSS) Academy is looking for young, diverse South Australian talent in a program that gives locals a leg-up onto the WOMAD stage.

  • Words: Helen Karakulak
  • Graphic: Mikaela Balacco
  • Pictures: supplied

The fifth edition of the WOMAD x NSS academy is now taking applications for First Nations and culturally diverse emerging artists.


WOMAD x NSS Academy
Applications open now ’til Wednesday, June 12

Application info

The Academy is a nine-month professional development program with five spots available for participants aged 18-30 that covers performance schools, technical production and the business of music, including invoicing, business banking, tax processes and becoming APRA members.

The program culminates in a showcase event where artists will perform to an audience of the general public and the WOMADelaide programming team, who will be looking to invite artists to perform at WOMAD’s 2025 festival from 7-10 March in Botanic Park/Tainmuntilla.

WOMAD’s associate director Annette Tripodi says the academy came to be because they wanted an ongoing project connected to the festival that focussed on the development of emerging artists.

“I think as any young artist will tell you, there’s so few formal avenues for learning and organisations like Carclew and like NSS, who we work with obviously on the Academy, have always done some really great things,” Annette says.

“But I think on a broader scale, if you’re just beginning, there aren’t too many places where you can turn.”

When CityMag crunched the numbers on 2023 festivals, we found 13.4 per cent of WOMAD’s lineup was South Australian, which we deemed a reasonable feat for a festival whose ethos is to present music, arts and dance from around the world. 

The NSS Academy is the primary way locals get a leg up on the WOMAD stage, with academy graduates including DEM MOB and Taiaha who performed at WOMAD in 2023.

Sofia having a jam with mentor Felix Riebl from The Cat Empire. This picture: James Cubillo

Academy graduates Sofia Menguita and Rob Edwards performed at WOMAD 2024, with Sofia saying that despite the heatwave, the experience was “surreal”.

“Being up on that stage was a little scary but I’m just glad that I also got to share the moment with my wonderful band,” Sofia says.

Sofia says the whole program helped her grow as an artist and business owner, and she’d recommend other young artists give it a go.

“It has put me in positions that I have dreamt of being in for a very long time; from having my first (proper) press shots taken, to learning from industry veterans.

“I finally felt the authority to take my music seriously.”

The NSS Academy brings in local, national and international industry professionals to mentor the young artists, with previous mentors including L-FRESH The LION, Elsy Wameyo and Felix Riebl from The Cat Empire.

Annette says the exchange of ideas between mentors and mentees is a big part of empowering the young performers to grow as artists.

“It’s not only about having the means or having managed a studio to physically experiment with recordings, it is about confidence,” she says.

Annette says WOMAD 2024 was the largest programming of young, emerging First Nations and culturally diverse artists they’ve done before, with 28 shows on a specific NSS stage.

The NSS stage was positioned near the covered marketplace at this year’s WOMAD, meaning it say lots of foot traffic.

“We haven’t really gone to that extent before and it was a really great experience,” Annette says.

Because CityMag is always looking for transferable strategies to platform locals on festival stages, we asked Annette if the academy and NSS stage structure is something she’d recommend.

“It was an experiment for us to put it in a really prominent position and give a platform to those artists at this festival,” she says.

“It was really successful and that worked for us but I can’t say that what we’ve done with the academy from that stage is going to be really suitable for another festival”.

Annette says the stage was well run by the young people from the NSS who were working with industry mentors, and WOMAD hopes to expand the experience young people can get backstage by offering opportunities for technical production in the coming years.

Applications for the 2024/2025 intake of the NSS Academy are open until June 12.

Share —