1 Oct 2022 — 15 Oct 2022



State Library Victoria

328 Swanston St
Melbourne 3000


Saturday 15 October, 2pm


Takeover is a program of public events that celebrates the agency of our communities of diverse young and emerging creatives and creates the opportunity to take back public spaces following Melbourne’s successive COVID-19 lockdowns. Activations will take place across Melbourne’s public spaces during The Big Anxiety, culminating in a public performance of music, dance and singing on the State Library of Victoria forecourt on 15 October.


Young artists from Outer Urban Projects, The Social Studio and Youthworx will team up with international students to present works that activate Melbourne’s public spaces during The Big Anxiety. 

Young, culturally diverse people have been impacted by the pandemic including the public housing towers lockdown, racialised and heavy handed police enforcement of restrictions, barriers to homeschooling due to limited access to personal computers and reliable internet, as well as disruptions to casual and precarious employment. Conversely, the last year has also seen an eruption of youth-led creative community organising, mutual aid and inventive public protests in response to the global COVID pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Takeover will showcase the talented contributions of our young emerging artists and their communities. It will challenge the stereotypes and stigma directed at young people and instead promote diverse and unique perspectives, creative skills and aspirations for a better, diverse city post-pandemic. 

Image: Documentation from Takeover at Parliament Steps (2022), taken by Keelan O’Hehir.

Artist Biography

Takeover was collectively produced

Curated by Grace McQuilten and Amy Spiers, with Dewi Cooke and The Social Studio, David Mackenzie and Youthworx, and Irine Vela and Outer Urban Projects 

Dewi Cooke

Dewi Cooke is a creative leader and CEO of The Social Studio, as well as an experienced reporter, editor and producer of digital media and podcasts. She was a print reporter at The Age newspaper for more than a decade writing on migration and multicultural affairs. 

David MacKenzie

David MacKenzie is a video artist, filmmaker and media trainer/mentor at Youthworx. He has worked across video art, documentary and collaborative media for over ten years. 

Grace McQuilten

Grace McQuilten is an Associate Professor at RMIT School of Art and a curator with a passion for contemporary art and community development.  

Amy Spiers

Amy Spiers is an artist and researcher specialising in socially-engaged and public art, and currently a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at RMIT School of Art. Spiers has also produced and curated a number of public programs, symposiums and exhibitions including Counter-monuments: Indigenous settler relations in Australian contemporary art and memorial practices symposium with Genevieve Grieves hosted by ACCA in 2021. 

Irine Vela

Irine Vela is a composer, director, musician, producer, dramaturg, theatre maker and artistic director of Outer Urban Projects. She has collaborated with many of Australia’s finest performers, writers, directors and theatre companies including the MTC, Melbourne Workers Theatre and Brunswick Women’s Theatre. 


This project arises from the research Grace and Amy undertook during a recently completed four-year project supported by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme which analysed how art-based social organisations support young creatives impacted by forces of marginalisation. 

Relationships forged as a consequence of that research, led to the exhibition Joining my future: Art/work, Inequality and Crisis at Bus Projects gallery in 2021 with artists from The Social Studio, Outer Urban Projects and Youthworx. Following that first successful collaboration, the curators, artists and organisations were invited to present a public performance, Takeover at Parliament Steps for ACCA’s Who’s Afraid of Public Space? program in 2022. 

Consequently, this project has been developed into new work for the Big Anxiety Festival that engages more directly with mental health issues and RMIT’s international student cohort. 

This program has been developed with assistance from the City of Melbourne 2022 Arts Grants program and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

How to Engage

Takeover is made up of a series of events and programs, including a public performance of music, dance and singing from Outer Urban Projects, textile workshops by The Social Studio, video and sound installations by Youthworx as well as a poster project featuring all three organisations and the international student cohort of RMIT.