Talent Development Project open for 2022/23 intake

The Talent Development Project produces its share of stars but really shines in setting up its students for lifelong careers in the entertainment industry.

Image: The 2021/22 Talent Development Group graduating class.

With a roll call of graduates that includes Las Vegas show-stoppers Human Nature, Aria chart-topper Paulini, and Hi Five original Nathan Foley – the Talent Development Project (TDP) certainly does what its name implies.

Now in its 31st year, the TDP offers a unique training program, hosting monthly workshops for diverse, talented young artists to explore and develop their musical abilities in a creative and collaborative environment.

The program – which has just confirmed its graduating class of 2021/22 and has now opened the door for 2022/23 applications, is run in consultation with industry professionals and is offered to NSW Government secondary school students from Years 9-12.

It’s a partly funded arts program by the NSW Department of Education and incurs no fees to students who are accepted into it.

Students from around the state are encouraged to explore different genres and styles, and creatively challenge themselves in areas of singing, songwriting, production and performance.

Given stage and television great Peter Cousens has been the Artistic Director at the TDP for five years, there should be little surprise that quality graduates keep coming through their system.

“My job really is to facilitate their creative journey,” Cousens says.

“We see them once a month, so we can’t necessarily train their skills but we can give them challenges and inspire them to use their skills and think artistically.”

With around 80 per cent of graduates going on to work in the industry at some level, it is clear however the TDP is more than just a vehicle for those who want to be famous.

“Our objective is to guide these kids into a professional world where they can have a career, where they can pay their rent,” Cousens says.

“Some of them may go on if they are lucky enough to extraordinary success but most will be people that can make a living out of music.

Image: TDP students take part in the First Nations Workshop

“Often, they start doing one thing but the opportunities may come from the peripheries, whether that is producing or engineering or playing in a band when they thought they’d be a soloist – or even going on to teaching.”

For 2021/22 graduate Jade Stegbauer, it was a journey that initially started in Wagga Wagga but moved to Sydney with the program and his new school, Kirrawee High School.

“I didn’t know much about it when I started,” she says.

“When I first came into the program, I was still finding my genre and I was experimenting with everything. I was probably more pop - but now I have definitely found my soul roots, I explore pop, blues, jazz, and I really incorporate a lot of genres into my music now.

“When I finish TDP, I want to make a living out of being a musician and write and release a lot of music. I want to start by pursuing lots of gigs and improving my performance skills.”

The TDP program runs annually from July to June with applications being accepted for the next intake open until 27 May 2022.

For more information visit: https://www.talentdevelopmentproject.org.au/school-program/

2021/22 Talent Development Project Graduates

Freddie Bailey – Oxley High School, Tamworth
Jade Stegbauer – Kirrawee High School
Ethan Beckton – Lisarow High School, Central Coast
Kryzjyhnn Guevara – Saint Marys Senior High School
Tahlia Akyereko – Bradfield Senior College, St Leonards
Will Skarpona – Wollongong High School of Performing Arts
Tasha Lapointe – Willoughby Girls High School
Charlie Tchetchenian – Cherrybrook Technology High School
Georgie Lyons – Pittwater High School
Ethan Puse – Caringbah High School

Image: TDP Artistic Director Peter Cousens
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