One of our strengths as an organisation is our ability to see the creative needs of Pasefika youth here in Australia. In recent years, PICAA rolled out programs aimed towards enticing Pasefika youth to the arts – the most successful of these being our ‘Acting Classes for Youth’ program which introduces students ages 10 – 25 to the world of theatre. Facilitated by our Head of Theatre, director, playwright and actor, Asalemo Tofete, students not only get to the learn the ropes as actors on stage, but they also get to create a collaborative work with Asalemo in a finale showcase.
For our PICAA students, theatre is an exciting world to be in. For us, as a creative arts organisation that pulls in audiences from both the Pasefika and Arts community, it is a way for us to fill the gap in the Melbourne arts sector. Melbourne is lacking in Pasefika actors, directors, writers, stage and production crews. So this is something that PICAA definitely wants to work towards, in bridging those gaps and upping the numbers.
In 2016, we created and produced Melbourne’s very first Samoan theatre production Amataga o le Alofa (The beginning of Love), written by Delsa Evotia Tuitea, and directed by Lelili’o Steve Tafea, performed by an all-Melbourne-Samoa cast and crew. Following this, we produced Australia’s very first Pacific Island musical called Rehavaiki, written and directed by Asalemo Tofete, and composed by Rita Seumanutafa. All of our Theatre students took part in these productions as either cast members of stage crew. Also, these productions enjoyed sold-out premieres and second-shows and to this day, we still get requests from the community to bring them back to the stage.
As a non-profit organisation, we rely heavily on our own fundraising efforts, as well as in-kind support from larger arts organisations that share in the PICAA vision (Big shout out to Multicutural Arts Victoria!). By embracing Pasefika youth talents on and off the stage, we are contributing to a Pasefika creative arts future that puts our people on the stage. Watch this space!
Rita (PICAA Head-Cheerleader)