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The Arts Unit eNews Term 4 2017

Check out what's happening at The Arts Unit

The Arts Unit eNews Vol 4. 2017

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What's happening at The Arts Unit?

A message from the Director
Congratulations on a fantastic Schools Spectacular. Once again, this amazing production showcased the remarkable talents of over 5,500 NSW public school students.  Thank you to all teachers, families, staff and crew for your support and for your professionalism and expertise. The Schools Spectacular will be broadcast on Channel 7 on Saturday 16 December at 7.00 pm.


Term 4 has been busy for all of our teams at The Arts Unit. The NSW Public Schools State Drama Festival saw over 600 students shine on stage, while a further 3,680 singers performed magnificently at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Festival of Choral Music.

Thank you to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Music Count Us In for their collaboration this term with The Arts Unit. The SSO played beautifully during their live stream of "The Bush Concert". Over 12,000 students tuned in from their classrooms around New South Wales. 

A huge congratulations to the 154,000 students across the state who competed in the Premier's Spelling Bee, and to the 89 competitors who came to Sydney to take part in the finals.

It has also been a successful term for our public speakers and debaters, with finals being held for the Multicultural Perspectives competitions, the Legacy Junior Public Speaking national finals and state finals for all the Premier's Debating Challenges. 


Last week, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian shared her love of reading with students at Strathfield South Public School while announcing the official results of the 2017 Premier’s Reading Challenge. Congratulations to the 290,000 students state wide who managed to read over 8 million books this year!

It has certainly been a very busy and rewarding final term. I am looking forward to 2018. It promises to be another year of enriching experiences and exciting opportunities for the students in our schools.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday over the Christmas break and send a special wish to the 108 students who are off to the UK/Ireland in January 2018 for the NSW Public Schools Symphony Orchestra and Singers Tour.


Rosemary Davis

Director Arts, Sports & Initiatives 

That moment when the hours of practice, the months of preparation and the passion of every individual involved combines to create something truly extraordinary. These are the moments we live for. ⚡️⚡️⚡️ #love4spec #ownthemoment
Dates for your diary

The Arts Unit is offering a number of concerts, student and teacher workshops as well as art gallery exhibitions in Term 1 2018. Please visit our website for additional information. 

Term 1

16-31 January         

120 NSW Public Schools students will travel to the UK/Ireland as part of the NSW Public Schools Symphony Orchestra and Singers Tour.  

31 January

ARTEXPRESS Exhibition Official Opening - Art Gallery of NSW 

2 February 

ARTEXPRESS Exhibition Opening - Griffith Regional Art Gallery 

3-9 February

OnStage exhibition and Writers ONStage/OnSCREEN 2018 - York Theatre & Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre > more details

8-9 February

Callback 2018 - Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre > more details

16 February

ARTEXPRESS Exhibition Opening - Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery, Gymea 

19 February

Encore, Sydney Opera House > more details

5 March

NSW Premier's Reading Challenge Opens > more details

12 March

ARTEXPRESS Exhibition Opening - The Armory Gallery, Sydney Olympic Park 

20 March

Operation Art 2018 Touring Exhibition Opening, Art Gallery of NSW > more details

The Premier's Spelling Bee State Final

Congratulations to the 154,000 participants, 3,400 regional finalists and the 89 finalists who battled it out in the finals.  The junior (Years 3&4) final was won by Lena from Oatley Public School. Lena correctly spelled costume, arable, autumn, librarian, dais, spinnaker, bounty, aquamarine, illustrious, mediocre and camphor.

In the senior final (Years 5&6), words like agronomy, axiomatic, analogous, tourmaline and obsolescent thinned the ranks until, in the 14th round, there were only two spellers left with Lucinda from Woollahra Public School being crowned the champion.

We thank all those many schools and staff members who, with their enthusiasm and hard work, made this Spelling Bee amazing.

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra- The Bush Concert Virtual Excursion

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Music Count Us In collaborated with The Arts Unit to bring the sounds of the orchestra to life through Helga Visser's picture book "The Bush Concert". Over 12,000 students from across the state enjoyed the concert thanks to this very special virtual excursion!

The Premier's Reading Challenge

What a year! Congratulations to the 292,000 students who participated in 2,548 schools across NSW. Did you know these were the most popular books by challenge level?

K-2: Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey 

3-4: Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

5-6: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

7-9: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

The Premier's Reading Challenge opens in 2018 on Monday 5 March and will close next year on Friday 31 August > more details.

Australia Day Celebrations 2018


The Australia Day Council of NSW, in conjunction with The Arts Unit will be hosting many events at the Salute to Australia on Thursday 26 January 2018 at locations around Sydney Harbour. It is a special occasion for students, teachers and members of the wider community to share in. The event will have a shore audience of tens of thousands of people who will be encouraged to sing the anthem along with the selected choirs. We are looking forward to hearing and seeing our NSW Public Schools Students shine! For more information about the event please contact

OnSTAGE Workshops

Drama workshops focussing on the individual project component of the HSC Drama course will be presented in association with NESA during the 2018 OnSTAGE season. Led by experienced HSC drama teachers these practical workshops will provide students with invaluable insights and advice for the execution of the various projects. For more information please visit our website.


The ARTEXPRESS Team have recently been working out of NESA’s HSC marking centre to begin the selection process for the 2018 ARTEXPRESS exhibitions. The ARTEXPRESS team spends 10 weeks out in the shed each year assisting the professional gallery curators choose their Body of Work selections for the 2018 exhibitions. The NESA packing team then carefully build packaging boxes to ensure these outstanding HSC Visual Arts Bodies of Work safely travel throughout NSW starting at the Art Gallery of NSW in January.

 #ARTEXPRESS  #Theartsunit   #NSWHSCVisualarts

Speaking and Debating 

The 2017 Years 9&10 Champion Smiths Hill team (left to right): Gemma, Laura, Kerry (coach), Grace and Tom.

Congratulations to Smiths Hill High School for their clean sweep of the Premier’s Debating Challenges for the high school competitions. The Smiths Hill 7&8 team was victorious at last week’s state championships held at The Women’s College at the University of Sydney. Their 9&10 team defeated Crestwood High School at the Seymour Centre in November, while their 11&12 team were victorious against North Sydney Girls High School at The Great Hall of the University of Sydney back in August. It is a huge achievement to be crowned state champs in one competition, let alone all three, so a huge congratulations to Smiths Hill High School!

Congratulations also to South Coogee Public School for taking out the Premier’s Debating Challenge for Years 5&6 at the championships held at Stanwell Tops. The final of the Primary Schools State Debating Championships was won by Sydney, while the Junior State Debating Championships were won by Western Sydney.

Congratulations to all teams across NSW for their dedication and enthusiasm for speaking competitions.

CALLBACK  2017 HSC Dance Performances 8-9 February 2018

Callback is a celebration of the outstanding talent of students who presented their work as part of the 2017 Higher School Certificate Dance Practical Examinations. It is a showcase of exemplary dance performances, compositions and films presented by students from across the State, from all school systems.


These presentations provide valuable insight into HSC Dance standards and outcomes for current and future dance students and teachers. The season includes two matinee performances specifically designed for students, which include a discussion with the Supervisor of Marking, as well as the popular HSC Dance Workshops covering practical course components specifically designed to meet the different needs of Year 11 and Year 12 Dance students.

All tickets are available through the Seymour Centre

Publication of our Drama Company play from 2017

Lachlan Philpott’s play, ‘The Pineapple War’, commissioned by The Arts Unit to showcase the exceptional students in our NSW Public Schools Drama Company Ensemble has been picked up by Playlab publishing.

‘The Pineapple War’ was performed in partnership with NIDA and directed by our Student Drama Officer at The Arts Unit. The play was an outstanding success and we are thrilled it will be available to schools across the country.

We will post more information on how you can get a copy on our Facebook soon!

Auditions for the Junior and Primary Drama Ensembles 2018

If you have a student in Years 5-9 in 2018 who would like to audition for the NSW Public Schools drama ensemble program, auditions are being held at The Arts Unit in Lewisham next year.

Open auditions are held for secondary students on Sunday February 18 and for primary on Sunday March 4.

Visit The Arts Unit website for details:

2018 applications are now open for the NSW PS Millennium Marching Band. The NSW Public Schools Marching Band is a dynamic group, full of energy and drive with a focus on fun and entertainment. There is a range of popular, traditional and new music. Combined with fast paced drill that is reflective of the music, the Millennium Marching Band is more than straight lines and traditional marches.> more details

The 2017 NSW Public Schools State Dance Festival was a great success with over 1500 students dancing onstage at the Seymour Centre. This event wouldn’t be possible without the extraordinary commitment of our teachers who work tirelessly to support the event.

Every year, Teachers Mutual Bank award the Dance Teacher Recognition Award. This year Katelyn Boshell from Bondi Beach Public School and Kathryn Fisher from Wagga Wagga High School were recognised as winners.

Katelyn and Kathryn have shown an outstanding commitment to dance education. Checkout the video to see just how much winning the award meant to these teachers.

Don't forget to regularly check our Facebook Page to see if we have tagged your school in any of our great posts. We would love you to share these with your school community. 


Copyright © 2017 The Arts Unit, All rights reserved.

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Message from the Director

Welcome to the new school year. The Arts Unit, as part of the Learning and Teaching Directorate of the Department's state office, continues to provide a broad range of arts and literacy programs, events and initiatives.

From 2017, the unit is led by team leaders, responsible for different aspects of the unit's activities:

Arts Programs and Initiatives Coordinator, John Benson, oversees performing arts, visual arts and literacy programs. 

Manager, Arts Unit Operations and Administration, Richard Spiewak, oversees unit-wide resources and support, including the state responsibilities of Arts Coordination Officers from Educational Services, led by Student Access and Engagement Officer, Michelle Stephens.

Arts Initiatives Advisor, Sonja Sjolander, oversees events, arts initiatives and the creative direction of the Schools Spectacular.

You can find contact details for all Arts Unit officers here and Arts Coordination Officers from operational areas here.

In 2017 The Arts Unit will continue to identify student potential and provide opportunities to enhance student learning, develop teachers’ skills and knowledge and showcase outstanding student achievement. I encourage you to use The Arts Unit’s Strategic Plan and the Arts Education Framework to identify opportunities for students and teachers alike.

I wish you a successful 2017. We look forward to working with you and to realise the unit’s vision - that highly motivated and engaged students, led by exceptional staff, realise their creative potential in and beyond the school.

Best wishes

Rosemary Davis

Director, Arts, Sports and Initiatives


Rural and Remote

As part of The Arts Unit’s support of the Department of Education and Communities’ Rural and Remote Education blueprint for action, we are excited to be able to offer a Participation Subsidies to students and teachers from rural and remote schools. This financial support is to facilitate engagement of students who are accepted into a number of our programs.

Many of our program attract a subsidy so please see each art form on this website for more information.

Please note: If interest exceeds available funds, allocation of the Participation Subsidy will be prioritised based on remoteness.

Subsidies will be confirmed with acceptance notification.


Job Opportunities

We currently have a position available for a digital strategies projects officer 2017. If you are interested in this position please complete the attached request for quote. For any further inquiries please contact The Arts Unit on 8512 1100.