Made in Adelaide: Deborah Brennan makes the Edinburgh connection

Ten years ago Deborah Brennan was working as a high school teacher in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, playing piano on the side and longing for a more creative career.

Now she’s settling into her new home in Edinburgh and preparing for the international premiere of her latest cabaret show at the world’s biggest Fringe festival.

The 34-year-old Elder Conservatorium graduate has had something of a meteoric rise from school to stage, premiering her first show, A Case of You: The Music of Joni Mitchell at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe.

After rave reviews, including a personal recommendation from Marcia Hines who declared the show one of her top 10 picks of the Fringe, Brennan’s friends and family suggested she take A Case of You to Edinburgh.

Soon after, her guitarist announced he was moving to Europe. And then she got an email from Arts South Australia announcing its new Made in Adelaide export program, including new state government grants for artists heading to the Edinburgh Fringe.

“It was one of those moments in life where the stars aligned,” she says.

Deborah Brennan

Having now performed under the Made in Adelaide banner at the last two Edinburgh Fringes, Brennan is part of a growing number of South Australian artists exporting their acts on the world stage with the support of the State Government.

Now in its third year, Made in Adelaide is the state’s arts and cultural export platform. It showcases the work of South Australian artists at the Edinburgh Fringe, putting a spotlight on creatives, presenters, producers and arts companies in the heart of the international festivals circuit.

Made in Adelaide artists receive marketing support for their shows, and can use the recognisable Made in Adelaide logo and branding on their promotional materials to help increase their profile. Special events and performance showcases also allow artists to network with key industry members, with past delegates securing international tour bookings, co-productions and festival invitations.

Since it was launched in 2016 over $1.8 million in economic benefit has been garnered from an annual investment of 0.2 per cent of the total arts budget – a small investment for major new opportunities for artists and companies.

“It was so good to have a base in Edinburgh through Made in Adelaide … to have somewhere when you landed and didn’t know anyone or the city very well, to go there and meet people, your tribe, all set up,” Brennan says.

Now Brennan is taking all the knowledge she’s accrued over the past two years, and is using it to help other Australian artists starting out in Edinburgh, launching a consultancy offering guidance on everything from where to stay, to how to hire a last-minute sound tech.

“Now that the Made in Adelaide thing is growing, there are more artists considering going to Edinburgh, whereas five or 10 years ago nobody would have thought to do it, so there’s a groundswell of Adelaide acts over there,” she says.

This year’s Edinburgh Fringe will see the premiere of Brennan’s new show The Hummingbird Effect, which she describes as a cabaret loosely based on “the artist’s struggle: should I be an artist or do I get a real job?”.

As Brennan herself has proven, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Arts South Australia is currently offering Made in Adelaide grants of up to $6000 to South Australians taking shows to Edinburgh in August. Applications close Monday, April 30. For more information go to arts.sa.gov.au

Presented by Arts South Australia

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