OSCA – OPEN SPACE CONTEMPORARY ARTS is an annually funded arts organisation based in South Australia – generating projects in city, urban and regional locations at the intersection of interdisciplinary practice and socially engaged art. Our mission is to provide artists and non-artists with opportunities to create contemporary works that explore local ideas and new way of coming together in the public domain. OSCA provides a distinctive service within the SA arts ecology as a company dedicated to new models of participatory arts practice and community engagement.
OSCA projects are guided by our key creative principles to Connect, Engage, Create and Contribute. Our outcomes deepen connections to the world around us through the lens of local understandings, knowledge, concerns, desires and interests. We work with People, Process and Place and understand criticality and community engagement as rich sites for collaboration and exchange. OSCA facilitates this as a strategic process built on commitment and trust through thematic and authentic engagement in direct contact with local participants. Community participation, audience engagement and capacity building are considered and responded to in direct relation to each individual project.
Our clear sense of purpose, cutting edge approach to art making and unyielding ethical stance of open accessible and inclusive engagement, places OSCA in the greater arts ecology of SA and Australia as a leader of contemporary community arts projects and programs.
OSCA operates as a platform for artists who want to extend their practice in a supportive and collegial environment. Through collaboration and experimentation, we engage artists and audiences in re-configuring perceptions of social space and the imagination as integral to self-determination and social reform. OSCA’s visibility in the matrix of local arts organisations is becoming known for its scope of innovative projects, workshops and forums that find new audiences in unexpected places.
OUR HISTORY – Kneehigh till now. Formerly known as KneeHigh Puppeteers, OSCA has been a South Australian art maker since 1995. Our past body of work has been built on producing and touring new performance works with a particular focus on large-scale puppetry, spectacle theatre and community engagement projects. Led by Tony Hannan, KneeHigh Puppeteers had significant success with commissions for local and national festivals and countless international tours in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The company has traditionally received triennial funding from Arts SA and The Australia Council of the Arts along with significant additional income from commissioned work. After numerous high profile commissions at local and national festivals, and many international tours, it was considered time for the company to renew its directives. In 2012 Dario Vacirca was appointed to lead and re-vision the organisation and started shifting the course to include new interdisciplinary artforms and artists working across performance, video, installation and curated events. This transformation saw the implementation of artist driven projects and the development of an Associate Artist model supporting leading independent SA artists.
At the start of 2016 a new artistic team consisting of Artistic Director Paul Gazzola & General Manager Janine Peacock took to the helm. Their combined history of over 50 years in curating and producing works with various communities in city, urban and regional sites has seen OSCA consolidate its past and step forward with a new and bold set of directives.