Festival direction

Art & Industry Festival 

Initiated by Donna Jackson in partnership with the local community to investigate the relationship of art and industry by acknowledging the past and generating ideas to design the future. Starting in 2016 this biennial festival has taken place three times and ran over ten days in November.  The Art & Industry Festival celebrates physical assets, explores challenging ideas and creates work of note artistically. Donna has worked with local designers to construct exotic costumes using local industry offcuts and used local industrial architecture as inspiration for fashion. The festival has also featured film, large-scale events, theatre, installation and car crushing.

The next Art & Industry Festival takes place 18-27 November 2022.

See short film of AIF2020      Read evaluation article

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Maribyrnong Festival of People and Industry 1998

Donna Jackson was the inaugural Artistic Director of the Maribyrnong Festival (since known as The Big West and now the Due West Festival). Her program included a Ride on Mower Ballet with the Koori Gardening Team at the Whitten Football Oval and a machinery ballet featuring opera singer Margaret Haggart with Bob Cats, a Scissor Lift, Forklift and Car Crusher.

Site Specific performance - artistic direction

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We Built This City May 2006

A theatre show featuring the skills of 124 building workers. The audience were led through the outdoors and indoors of Scienceworks Museum in Melbourne. They experienced live story telling, film, installation, a rock concert and a machinery ballet featuring a 100 tonne crane. Produced by Melbourne Workers Theatre the show was presented over three weeks with composition and performances by Mark Seymour.

View video from the show

Shifting Sands
Shifting Sands

Shifting Sands 2016

A performance work created with members of the Gold Coast community who swam, paddled and danced on the Currumbin Estuary at Palm Beach and featured synchronised swimming, choreographed Stand Up Paddle boards, acrobatics, and dancers from Queensland Ballet. The work celebrated stories of local experiences told by the indigenous community, long-term residents as well as new comers. It premiered as a feature event of Bleach Festival March 2016.

Spin Saturday October 2013

This eleven-hour program at a large industrial depot highlighted Canberra’s best artists and its car lovers. One project, SPIN Wear, was a wearable art fashion parade, which invited designers to explore car parts as fashion material. The parade and dance performance featured car inspired films, angle grinding and trapeze. Other car themed events included Roller Derby, films on cars and a choreographed demonstration of car crushing by SIMS metal.

 Check out the Spin Saturday Review

View video of Spin Saturday

View the Spin Wear Fashion Parade Documentary

View Mark Seymour and The Petrolsexuals singing songs about cars

National and Statewide projects - artistic direction

One River 2012 – 2013 for the Centenary of Canberra

This multi-state arts project connected the national capital with ten communities, towns and waterways throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, from the inland river sources to the Murray mouth in the Southern Ocean. These arts-based projects offered the opportunity to connect cultural, scientific and economic thinking about our waterways.

Find out more Watch evaluation video


Illuminated By Fire 2011 – 2012 for Regional Arts Victoria

Illuminated by Fire was a statewide art project over a period of eighteen months and across eleven regions. From Portland to Maldon, to Swan Hill and Lake Tyers eleven artists and their communities delved into the role of fire and its impact, creating projects, which offered an extraordinary exploration and what it means to live with fire. These projects were launched in their regional areas and subsequently showcased in Melbourne at Federation Square. The eleven projects embraced a diverse range of artistic practices, and produced work both breathtaking and inspired.

Find out more Link to PhD

Such Fertile Ground Cowwarr
Such Fertile Ground Albury Wodonga
Such Fertile Ground Geelong
Such Fertile Ground Gippsland
Such Fertile Ground Heathcote
Such Fertile Ground Ruffy
Such Fertile Ground Beechworth
Such Fertile Ground Surf Coast
Such Fertile Ground Natimuk
Such Fertile Ground Shepparton
Such Fertile Ground The Great Southwest

Such Fertile Ground 1999 - 2002

Such fertile ground was a statewide art project produced by Regional Arts Victoria across 12 regions. Large site-specific works, in a range of mediums from surfboards to sheep, were temporary installed and aerially photographed. The photographs became postcards to reveal and promote an identity of place unique to each region.

Theatre and Circus

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DUST Adelaide season 3-6 May 2013
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DUST Consolidation weekend in Brisbane over 2&# Nov 13

Dust 2008 – 2013

Dust is a theatre script written by Donna Jackson to recognise the endurance, integrity, and courage of those affected by asbestos related diseases. Dust was produced and presented by Hubcap Productions in partnership with seven communities - Ballarat, Williamstown, Geelong, Shepparton, Sale, Adelaide and Brisbane. Featuring verbatim stories by people affected by asbestos as well as films by collaborator Malcolm McKinnon and songs by composer Mark Seymour. It is now the subject of a book - Art and Social Change. Dust A Case Study.

View evaluation video

The Baby Show 2011 - 2013

The Baby Show is one woman show written and performed by Donna Jackson devised with director John Bolton. The theme of the work was Love, Law, Charity and Shame which lie at the bottom of many a birth. These themes were investigated by an expert, a deliberately barren spinster accompanied by her dog love child. It featured funny and delicate memories of true family stories of babies and relationships that disappeared and reappeared. The work was developed to include a choir of 20 women who participated in the performance and sang the sound track.

View video from the show


Women’s Circus 1991-1996

Donna established The Women’s Circus; she was the artistic director, too. This ground breaking community circus company devised works featuring over 80 performers at sites such as disused warehouses, barges on the Yarra River at night and the National Gallery of Victoria. The Women’s Circus carved a new style of circus performance through a unique mix of community participation, high quality theatre, and non-traditional venues. The company toured to Beijing China in 1995.

A short film on the Womens Circus by RMIT Student Riley Goodwin Sept 2018.

Car Maintenance Explosives and Love 1996 - 2007

Car Maintenance Explosives and Love was one-woman show written and performed by Donna Jackson and devised with director Andrea Lemon. An exploration of love, cars and class. The work contained acrobatics, pyrotechnics and angle grinding. It toured to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Tasmania, London and the Edinburgh Festival. The work received consistently good reviews.

View video from the show


Newport Project 

The Newport Project was a new and exciting artist, student and community consultation that took place from November 2017 to March 2018.

The project’s aims were to develop design ideas for the Paine Reserve area utilising Placemaking practices and complementing the strategic plans for Melbourne and Hobsons Bay City Council.

The project was initiated by Councillor Peter Hemphill and supported by the Newport Traders Association. Ideas for the project were developed in consultation with local artists, community members, Newport Traders and students and lecturers from the Thrive Research Hub at The University of Melbourne.

Watch a video on the process Read recommendations document Download recommendations document