Speakers and Artists

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Lee Witzcak (SA)

Photo of Lee wearing glasses and smiling Film Futures Panel

In early 1999 I was working on two fronts. I had a band called Kesh it was an Irish Trad, we were moderately successful with bookings three months in advance. My other work was for the Adelaide Festival Centre; I was a dresser in the wardrobe department. I really loved both jobs.  I’ve always loved performance and performing. Anyway on April 29, 1999 I had played a gig at Finn MacCool’s in Norwood – it had been a good gig, great fun, and I headed home in the wee hours of the am. The next morning April 30, I got up to make a cup of tea and had a massive stroke. The next 4 months or so are a bit of a blur: three weeks in the Royal Adelaide Hospital before being transferred to the Hampstead Centre Stroke Unit for about another ten or was it twelve weeks? After that I went home, but continued community based rehab for about eighteen months.

The first thing that happens when you have a stroke is your license is suspended, I spent quite a few months with a special driving instructor and eventually got my license reinstated, As soon as I had a modicum of independence back I was off! I had to find new employment, as the Festival centre wasn’t hiring one-armed dressers! I surmised that as I was newly disabled I would probably do ok in disability support so I completed a Cert 3 in disability and a diploma in lifestyle and leisure which gave me a Diversional Therapist qualification, which I used briefly while working for various Aged Care facilities. I also worked for Barkuma Community Support for five years and Barossa Enterprises supporting people with disabilities in their homes and local communities.

I became involved with No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability (NSATD). I was in the Mad Women’s group for a couple of years. NSATD Creative Director PJ Rose gave me a seed loan to attend a presentation given by some guys from England from a film festival called Oska Bright. Tutti Arts had brought over these guys to run a series of short film making workshops specific to people with learning disabilities. I attended many of the workshops, got hooked on film and eventually via the kindness of Tutti CEO Pat Rix I was offered some part time work at Tutti Arts. Subsequently I became Chairperson of Tutti’s evolving learning disability led film festival committee – Sit Down Shutup And Watch (SDSW). It was great to be back working in the creative industries and SDSW was my vehicle to creative expression, a vehicle I could drive without fear of having my license suspended!

In 2015 I was offered one of ten spots in the Sync Leadership Program, which introduced me to some remarkable people and began me on a journey towards Peer leadership. During my time with Tutti I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to the UK three times, to represent the Australian learning disability film sector at the learning disability led film festival Oska Bright held in Brighton. I have chaired the SDSW committee for two biennial festivals and am currently working on the third. I have taken films and filmmaking workshops to the Regions and been inspired by the incredible creativity and determination of those I have met. Most recently and very much to my surprise The Brain Injury Network of SA presented me with the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award and whilst I was flattered with the award I feel compelled to state that no one does it alone, and whilst I wouldn’t choose to have another stroke, its meant that I’ve met and worked with so many amazing people over the last 19 years or so, people that have literally held me up until I could walk again and ya gotta be grateful for that!

For more info on SDSW go to https://sitdownshutupandwatch.com/

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Meeting Place 2018

24 - 26 September

Araluen Arts Centre, 61 Larapinta Drive
Alice Springs, NT 0870