BREC First Nations Artist Retreat | BREC


The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat will be held deep in the South West forest at the Donnelly River Village, 13-15 September 2024 and artist Expressions of Interest are now welcomed.

The Artist Retreat offers First Nations artists the opportunity to rigorously develop performance-based concepts, consider new collaborations and explore cross art form possibilities.  The Retreat is a key initiative in our long term commitment to developing, supporting and celebrating First Nations arts and culture. The project is supported by CircuitWest, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Marrugeku and Gnaala Karla Booja Corporation.

During the intensive three-day event, 12 artists or project teams work with three highly-skilled First Nations mentors developing projects with a distinct WA identity, building artist capacity and supporting the creation of artist networks.  Each artist will give a 20×20 presentation of their project idea, work with mentors in groups and one-on-one, and have the opportunity to take part in morning warm ups, skills workshops and informal networking.

The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat is part of BREC’s strategic focus on building creative capacity in the South West and supporting the development of sustainable professional practice for regional independent artists. The Retreat follows Performing Lines Tas’s highly effective Tasmanian Artist Residency model, graciously gifted to BREC by Performing Lines in 2019. The Tasmanian Artist Residency  is delivered annually and the model is increasingly being shared across the country.


“The BREC Artist Retreat provided me with the space to talk through the ideas behind a project I’m working on, and gave me the confidence to pursue it, to commit to it, to believe in it. – Artist participant.


BREC Artist Retreat 2023 Group Photo

Timeline and How the Artist Retreat Works

The public callout for Artist Expressions of Interests (EOIs) open on Monday 27 May, and remain open for applications.

Of the 12 places available, up to 10 will be offered to South West based artists/teams, with artists from other regions or Perth metro area prioritised for the remaining two places.

A selection panel will review EOIs, with successful participants notified as soon as possible after recieving their application.  Artists will then be invited to prepare their project 20×20 presentations.  The final schedule and information pack will be sent to all attendees in August.

The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat will take place at the Donnelly River Village on 13-15 September, with transport from Bunbury and other South West regional centres, accommodation, snacks and evening meals provided for participants.  Artists need BYO breakfast and lunches, with kitchen facilities available in each cottage. Note that self-driving to Donnelly River is not permitted; buses and car sharing is arranged once the participant list has been finalised. To assist with offsetting expenses in attending, such as childcare or missed work, an allowance of $300 per artist or project team (depending on numbers) will be paid to successful applicants after completion of the debrief survey.

What Artists Can Expect

The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat is a 3-day, 2-night residency held at the Donnelly River Village, near Manjimup in Australia’s beautiful South West. It provides a supportive, creative environment for First Nations artists to test ideas and explore cross art form projects, share and develop professional practice.

A range of accomplished First Nations mentors from around Australia with different arts practice areas are attending to inform project development. In 2024 our mentors are Dalisa Pigram (Artistic Co-director of Marrugeku), Angela Flynn (Executive Director and Co-CEO of Ilbijerri Theatre Company) and playwright and performer, Nathan Maynard.  Our Mentor at Large will again be Aunty ‘Doc’ Lynette Narkle, a Bunbury resident, celebrated theatre and First Nations Elder, winner of the Red Ochre Award and valued member of the BREC Board. The Retreat will be facilitated by Annette Downs, former Senior Producer at Performing Lines Tasmania.

The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat affords a highly efficient and inclusive platform for the generation of new works and new networks for artists. One or two local or metro presenters and producers are also invited as observers, giving them an introduction to the region’s creative community and, where aligned, provide additional advice, resources or introductions for artists.

The Retreat features:

  • Presentation sessions of participant projects and ideas featuring group discussion
  • Professional mentorship in groups and one-on-one
  • Skills workshops
  • Optional morning warm-ups
  • Informal networking

Whilst the Retreat is heavily subsidised by DLGSC and BREC, each successful applicant will be required to pay a deposit of $200 to secure their spot. This is fully refundable after attendance at the Retreat and completion of the debrief survey. Artists will receive a $100 per day stipend to attend, reducing the barrier of lost income or childcare/access expenses.


“The exposure to the mentors was invaluable. It’s made me feel so connected to the arts community and made the forging of new relationships tangible and accessible.” – Artist participant.


BREC Artist Retreat 2021 Group Photo

Who Can Apply?

The BREC First Nations Artist Retreat is an opportunity for South West based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, at all points in their career and from all aspects of the performing arts, to come together and explore new performance project ideas.

This year applications are also welcome from artists from elsewhere in Western Australia, with two places reserved for ‘out of region’ applicants.  (Note: Any project team can include out of region artists, as long as the Lead Artist is a South West resident.)

We welcome applications from;

  • People at the start of their artistic practice
  • Senior artists with significant experience
  • Mid-career artists
  • Returning participants exploring new ideas
  • Writers, directors, makers, dancers, sound designers, puppeteers, etc – any artist with a project idea they want to work on.
  • Collaborative teams of no more than three, working together on a single concept should apply under the name of the lead artist on the project.

We celebrate diversity and welcome artists of all abilities, sexuality, gender, ethno-cultural and socioeconomic status. Successful applicants must be 18 years or older at the time of the Retreat.


The Smallest Stage by first time Manjimup playwright Kim Crotty was conceived at the 2019 BREC Artist Retreat, and also picked up its director, designer and initial seed funding from Perth Festival during the Retreat. The show was ultimately produced by BREC and premiered in Bunbury in February 2022 before transferring to the State Theatre Centre of WA for a Perth Festival season. It later was selected for a pitch at the Australian Performing Arts Exchange in Sydney.

The 2021 Retreat resulted in 11 South West artists being supported by CircuitWest to attend WA Showcase, with three artists pitching work and at least two paid engagements emerging from this networking opportunity.

The 2023 Retreat resulted in 4 artists receiving seed funding of $5000 for the creative exploration and development of their project, as well as access to space at BREC and assistance and advice from BREC staff as required.

Debrief surveys showed that participating artists felt inspired, reassured their art had meaning and value; and left with an increased sense of being part of the Australian arts community. They are now collaborating and exploring new projects with this new network.

Over time, the BREC Artist Retreat will see more local stories on our stages being enjoyed by South West audiences, perhaps going on to tour nationally or travel the world.  The Retreat empowers artists to tell the stories of our place and time. We are hugely grateful for the funding support from the State Government, which allows us to offer this to artists free of charge.


“I am surer of who I am now as an artist and what kind of artist I can become.”  – Artist participant.



Expressions of Interest for the 2024 Retreat open Monday 27 May.

The application process is simple and asks for 250 words about your project idea – it will take you about 20 minutes to complete online via the registration link below.


You must complete the application in one go – you cannot save and return.  So to see the application questions and prepare your answers, download the ‘Preparing For Your Application’ document HERE.

If you are nervous or unsure if the Retreat is for you, please get in touch with Associate Producer Janine Oxenham or BREC’s Artistic Administrator Stephanie Reeve via or call 9792 3113 to discuss. We want to meet you!

Applicants experiencing financial difficulty should contact Associate Producer Janine Oxenham or BREC’s Artistic Administrator Stephanie Reeve via to discuss alternative arrangements

Artist Participant Testimonials

“I have given myself permission to be an artist, thanks to this retreat.”

“Often regional PD is only average quality, but this is top shelf.”

“It had a huge personal impact on me that I wasn’t expecting. I found it awe inspiring, confronting, overwhelming, emotional, amazing. I have been struggling with who I am as an artist and it cemented that I actually did deserve to be there and that has given me the confidence to now grab our project by the horns.”

“When this opportunity came to participate, I have to admit I was hesitant as I wasn’t sure I was ready to pursue this project or fully immerse myself in the arts world again. I’ve been on many arts programs for artist development over the years and can say I have never received such support and encouragement for a project as I have on the BREC Retreat.”

Past Years


BREC 2019 Artist Retreat at Donnelly River


  • Zoe Atkinson
  • Matt Edgerton
  • Mike Finch
  • Julie-Anne Long
  • Lynette Narkle


  • Louisa Norman, Country Arts South Australia
  • Anna Reece, Perth Festival


  • Zairyn Burke
  • Lena Grayson
  • Liz Jack
  • Kim Crotty
  • Ben Mason
  • Meg Shields
  • Siobhan Maiden
  • Renae Shadler
  • Amber Norrish


  • Vahri McKenzie
  • Margot Edwards
  • Eleanor Davies
  • Sharon Kennedy
  • Andrew Robinson
  • Michele Laine
  • Natascha Herriot
  • Janine Oxenham

BREC 2021 Artist Retreat at Donnelly River Village


  • Sally Blackwood
  • Martin del Amo
  • Clare Watson
  • Michael Barlow
  • Zainab Syed


  • Ryan Taaffe, CircuitWest
  • David Marshall, Shire of Harvey


  • Bayden Adams
  • Miranda Aitken
  • Danielle Bond
  • Zairyn Burke
  • Eleanor Davies
  • Nathan Gardiner
  • Sam Gomme
  • Barbara Gore
  • Lesley Jackes
  • Millie Kitchener
  • Clara Kotai
  • Michele Laine
  • Christine Latham
  • Karen Louise
  • Chrissy Maddison


  • Siobhan Maiden
  • Kate Maloney
  • Katharina Meister
  • Lynette Narkle
  • Amber Norrish
  • Janine Oxenham
  • Joshua Pether
  • David Rawet
  • Tammie Reid
  • Sky River
  • Isaac Salter
  • Meg Shields
  • Daisy Sanders
  • Rachael Woodward
  • Rachel Wyder

BREC 2023 Artist Retreat at Donnelly River Village


  • Ros Oades
  • James Berlyn
  • Kate Sulan
  • Will O’Mahony


  • Rachael Whitworth, Perth Festival
  • Jen Leys, Performing Lines WA


  • Colette McEntee
  • Ian Rotheram
  • Amanda Bell
  • Nathan Gardiner
  • Deanna Mosca
  • Sarah Francis
  • Sky River
  • Rebecca Schofield
  • Elisha Caulfield
  • Jewel O’Shaughnessy


  • Alex Desebrock
  • Molly Werner
  • Chloerissa Moore
  • Amy Johnstone
  • John McCumiskey
  • Dave Richardson
  • Sam Gomme
  • Christine Latham
  • Karrak Gregory

Project Partners & Acknowledgements

The BREC Artist Retreat is supported by the State Government of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
The BREC Artist Retreat is supported by our First Nations Audience Development Partner Alcoa.
The BREC Artist Retreat was first delivered in partnership with Performing Lines in 2019. Original concept developed by Performing Lines Tasmania, supported by Arts Tasmania.


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