Western Edge Youth Arts (WEYA) will have twice the winning edge, with Tariro Mavondo and Penny Harpham jointly taking the helm as co-artistic directors.
Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Frankston, Mavondo is an award-winning spoken word poet, the founder of Africa’s Got Talent Australia and a co-founder of Centre of Poetics and Justice.
She will takes up her role with Yarraville-based WEYA when she wraps up working with Bell Shakespeare on its current production of Titus Andronicus.
Mavondo said Western Edge Youth Arts has been the vanguard in championing diverse stories from marginalised young people through theatre, as well as supporting the next generation of leaders.
“I’m very excited about it; I think it’s a complete game changer in terms of what leadership can look like,” she said.
“I really think that the west is overlooked, I think there is a lot of talent out there.”
The experience will not be Mavondo’s first with WEYA – she first came on board as a performer and has directed works as well.
Mavondo credits theatre with helping her break out of her introverted shell and wants to reach out to other young people looking for their own voices.
She said she is looking forward to collaborating in the joint role with Harpham, an award-winning theatre director and performer who cofounded independent theatre company She Said Theatre.
Harpham said Western Edge Youth Arts has an outstanding track record of inclusive programming with communities and young people in Melbourne’s west.
“Currently each week, we engage with 360 young people who have amazing talent and ideas,” she said.
“We have endless possibilities to deepen the impact of our programs – it’s an absolutely exhilarating opportunity.”
WEYA chair Jock Jeffries said the board was inspired by the pair’s shared vision.
“We are deeply compelled by their ingrained and open approaches to collaborate, their values for new contemporary forms and their genuine engagement with the communities we work with,” he said.