Q&A with Kat Mathieson, Development Manager

Kat joined NORPA earlier this year as Development Manager. During her first 6 months, Kat worked closely with the NORPA Foundation committee to help build NORPA’s development strategy and capacity after we received a Creative Partnerships Plus1 grant.

What attracted you to want to work at NORPA?

I first came to NORPA in 2014 and was blown away by the quality and variety of the work. At the time, I told my husband Erol that one day I’d like to work here. What most impressed me was the confidence of the place. The work was world-class and ambitious, and it was being developed and presented in a regional town. I couldn’t have been more impressed. I still couldn’t be more impressed. When the opportunity came up to join as the Development Manager this year, I leapt at the chance.

Since starting what is your first impression of the new work or ideas being explored at NORPA?

Awe! NORPA punches above its weight. And it does so by telling stories of and for the region.

I saw Dreamland last month and could relate to so many of the stories being told on stage. The fact they were told through song and dance only added to their power. Last year, I was delighted by Wildskin; what a cracker of a story. I heard it described as a bush-thriller, which I thought was perfect. An all-female cast of physical performers, each portraying Eve – a women exploring the wilderness and her wildness.

Without a doubt though, NORPA associate Kate McDowell’s one-woman show Wonderbabes, the story of a young woman testing her limits in Byron on New Year’s Eve, is the most exciting live-theatre show I have seen. It was raw and poetic and uncompromising.

So, I’m very excited to see what NORPA and its associate artists are going to do next! I’ve heard rumours of a new piece, still in early, early development, that is unlike anything I’ve yet seen. And, of course, there’s FOLD: A Domestic Circus – an innovative show at the cutting edge of modern circus – which opens on June 28 and is directed by NORPA Associate Artist Darcy Grant.

You previously worked for an iconic Sydney-based charity. Can you tell us more about your gig there?

Before moving to Koonorigan in 2011 (which is just past The Channon if you’re heading to Nimbin), I worked for the Wayside Chapel. Wayside provides support and services to people living on and around the streets of Kings Cross and firmly believes in creating community with no us and them. I joined in 2006 as the communications, marketing and fundraising manager and was lucky enough to arrive just as Wayside was looking to rebrand, rebuild and overhaul its service delivery. Wayside had a brilliant reputation but it was still very much rooted in the work of its founder Ted Noffs who had had a massive stroke 20 years before and had never returned to work. Over the next five years, we created a new look and feel for the place, raised $7 million to rebuild its crumbling home (we added a theatre too), and reviewed and revitalised its services to those most in need.

It was a wonderful job. It changed my life.


Image | Darcy Grant and Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal in a creative development for Wildskin. Photo by Kate Holmes.