From producer to respectful enabler
“Trust is paramount when it comes to creating authentic experiences for the public,” says Bastic. In 2015 he and his team were commissioned by the Northern Territory Government (NTG) to highlight the beauty of Alice Springs deserts. Bastic immediately thought of the First Nations people living in the area, of the wealth of their culture and of the uniqueness of their art. “I’d had the good fortune to work with Indigenous artists and performers several times during my career,” explains Bastic “and it was clear to me that the most respectful way to work on their land was to allow the voice to come from the traditional owners and local artists. After all it’s their culture, not mine, so why would I be the one representing it?”.
Bastic came back to the Northern Territory government with a singular conviction kind of deal: “My company knows how to produce a light festival, there is no doubt about that,” he said to them “but the only way this project will succeed is if we are positioned as enablers and the creative is led by the Indigenous communities.”
The NTG accepted and Bastic and his team set out to translate the artworks selected by the First Nations people of Alice Springs into light art. “They made the choices and we made it happen,” says Bastic. Even down to the name of the festival, Bastic and his team wanted the artists to have full creative lead. They ended up with “Parrtjima” a portmanteau of the words apateme — “to have trouble understanding something” — and pwarrtyeme — “to shine” thus playing on the idea of shedding both light and understanding on a subject.
Leaving room for others’ imagination
The position of the “enabler” that Bastic and his team adopted throughout the Parrtjima project is one that he tries to step into as often as possible. Echoing Mike Murawski and Dr Margi Brown Ash’s idea of the leader as a “facilitator” or “collaborator” Bastic is convinced that good cultural leaders and producers see themselves as “enablers” rather than experts and managers. “Sometimes when you lead you can have the feeling that you need to control everything, and actually that’s not helping anybody,” he says, “it’s just not allowing people to share their skills and expertise or showcase their talent.”
Bastic believes that fostering other people’s creativity and imagination is what enables him to create original and engaging storytelling experiences.
At AGB Events, the team has weekly ideas-sharing meetings during which everyone has an opportunity to talk about something they are currently inspired by or an idea they would like to see come to life in an event. “It lifts morale, it provides opportunity for even the youngest person on the team to be seen as a leader, and that’s what I love about it.”