Committee President, Rosemary McGowan expresses gratitude for a eventful 2 years at SDEA

With the current committee ending their term of 2019-2021 at the upcoming Annual General Meeting on 4th August, we sat down with some of the committee members to reflect on an eventful 2 years.

Rosemary McGowan expresses her gratitude for the past 2 years as President of SDEA. After serving in the committee from 2011 to 2015 and contributing to many sub-committees since, her passion for SDEA has only grown during these last 2 years.

What are you most proud of accomplishing over the past 2 years as president? 

That’s a tough one but I think my two biggest accomplishments are rebuilding the secretariat and the Theatre Arts Conference 2021 (TAC). In particular including the health strand in TAC as that’s something that is so important to me – not that I can take that much ownership over either of them really. I had loads of help from Michele Lim for the first one and the programming and production committees for the second one! 


I’m also incredibly proud that we’ve survived COVID and we put out help and resources for our members that we still have up and that we are still working on. I’m also proud that we are reaching more people in the applied drama/freelance/community work space who haven’t otherwise connected with us before and I hope we keep doing that. 

What is something you have learnt leading SDEA as president?

There is a huge duality to SDEA – we can’t exist without our members guiding us, leading us, directing us in our way; and our members would like us to be around to advocate for them, to fight and stand up for them. I’ve learned how difficult that can sometimes be for me because of my own history and baggage and therefore how important it is to have a team around me that I can depend on and rely on and share the work with.

I’ve also had the importance of care come up again and again in my term – how do we care for others? How do we speak to them and show them with our words and actions that we care? And how do we let go when others don’t care for us or aren’t able to access our care right now? 

You had previously served on the committee some years ago. What’s changed since your last term and now? 

I cannot actually begin to express how amazing it is to have a secretariat who is so on the ball and is able to provide support on all fronts. The last time I was on the comm, we had the incredible Lena and Ayda which was already a help (shout out to everyone who remembers a time when it was JUST US!) and now we have a team of hardworking, funny, kind, awesome individuals who not only help bring our ideas to life, but also contribute all their knowledge about the scene to keep building a better, more all-rounded SDEA. The secretariat’s support has been utterly invaluable to me.  

Also, how much tech we now use – another reason the secretariat have been invaluable – SDEA wouldn’t have been able to get through the last 1.5 years without their knowledge and experience and gung-ho ness. 

What are your plans after your term is over in August?

I’m planning to support the new committee as much as I can – this comm has made it an SOP to do a proper handover, lasting 3-6 months. There are moments in the last 2 years that I wouldn’t have been able to get through without the support of Elvira and Michele, two past presidents that I have either served under or with, and I am so thankful I was able to access them. Also, I am planning to come up with a more regular plan for my self-care interest group and hopefully do more applied drama/theatre work, but let’s see!

What are some words of advice you would like to give the next committee (or the next president)?

Be kind, compassionate and caring to everyone – the secretariat isn’t there to do your dirty work, the comm isn’t there to be talked-at, everyone brings their own experiences to the table and has value, even if they don’t say much or don’t appear much. Start from a place of curiosity rather than a place of decision, you’ll have more patience, more time and more love for the whole community and for yourself. Also, you don’t have to keep the stuff we’ve done – if you don’t think it’s working, get in there and change it.

Create the SDEA you want, the one that is relevant to you and to the community you are serving. Also – you aren’t alone, it’s ok to reach out!

Rosie's term as President will end at the Annual General Meeting on 4th August 2021, where a new committee will be elected. If you are a member, we invite you to attend the AGM and/or run for committee. Find out more information here.