Local Lady Belinda Kelly
by Stephanie Williams
Executive Producer Belinda Kelly is making sure a new generation of Tasmanians continue to enjoy puppetry.
Where in Hobart do you live? LoWeHo? Lower West Hobart, on the edge of the CBD
What’s the best thing about Hobart? The size, walkability, cultural assets, and proximity to the beach and bush.
And the worst? The car culture and fixation on free parking.
Tell us a little about your work? I am an arts manager and producer, with a speciality in making new Australian work, and currently the Executive Producer/CEO at Terrapin Puppet Theatre. We make new work for theatres and interactive installations for public space in Hobart then tour the world, from Flinders Island to NYC’s the Lincoln Centre to the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. Our horizons have temporarily shrunken a little over this Covid-era, but we enjoy great relationships with all our local festivals so have continued to make and present work in this time.
Why did you move to Tassie to work with Terrapin? Having grown up on a farm in regional Victoria, but only ever having lived in the centre of large cities as an adult (Melbourne, London, Sydney), I had a growing hankering to get out of town, and a fear of living the rest of my life in the big smoke. Hobart offers a happy, and very picturesque, medium between a heaving metropolis and country life. The cultural scene here is also very strong and growing and it’s the perfect place to make new work.
What role do you think Terrapin plays in the arts scene? Terrapin creates all-new work, collaborating with writers, designers, makers and performers to develop our productions. This means we can support and nurture talent here in Tasmania, and provide a pathway for these artists to share their work with new audiences here, on the mainland and internationally. We’re presenting Nathan Maynard’s play A Not So Traditional Story in Hobart and Launceston during the school holidays, and it’s a real privilege to work with Tasmanian Aboriginal artists to help tell their stories.
Why puppetry? Puppetry has a unique power to evoke empathy. You have to use your imagination to believe that something is alive, even when a part of you knows it isn’t.
What do you love doing outside work? I am loving my role as a board member for Tasmania’s Beaker Street Festival of Arts and Science. Founded a few short years ago by scientist Margo Adler, this festival is transforming the way science is communicated to the general public (with great art and great local beverages!).
Where’s your favourite Hobart eatery? Migrant Resource Centre Kitchen, Hamlet, Templo.
Drink of choice and where do you head for it? Vino. Sonny, Lucinda, Tom McHugo’s, Willing Bros.
Guilty pleasure? Old seasons of Australian Survivor. I’m not sure it’s entirely a guilty pleasure as I’ve learnt a lot about strategy from watching it, but I admit it is not considered an entirely conventional tool for business planning and development. Some people think it is quite trashy!
What do you never leave home without? XXX Extra Strong Mints.
If I didn’t live in Hobart I’d live… I’m not sure, I might have Stockholm syndrome caused by locked borders, it is hard to imagine living anywhere else at this time.
Where to next? On the move again after a period of reflection and development. After the incredible disruption caused by Covid to the performing arts and event worlds, we are looking ahead to touring off the island again. All going well we will be in the Gold Coast at the new HOTA complex in September and at the Sydney Opera House in January. In 2022 we are also representing Tasmania by presenting a new interactive public space work at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which involves a group of Tasmanian school children rewriting our national anthem. We are very curious to see what they come up with. We are also hoping to make a delayed trip to Japan and to welcome Japanese artists to Tasmania to develop a new work for theatres.
Quote to live by? For this era, Samuel Beckett: “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.