In 2022, Connor Morel received a Creative Engine grant (Ignition) to support his work in progress, A Lovely Day To Be Online. In September 2023, Connor wrapped up his final live performance of the work to a sold-out Open House theatre as part of Geelong Arts Centre's Grand Opening Festival. Read along to uncover more about Connor, his latest work and how applying for a Creative Engine grant changed the trajectory of his career.
Q. So Connor, you’re back in the Geelong Arts Centre studios after wrapping up A Lovely Day To Be Online last September. What have we missed?
I’m back! And loving every second! Geelong is home and by god is it a winner! New project is going great guns - we just finished a very experimental development and it’s scary and confronting and risky and exciting and we’ve been having a looooottttt of fun. This next show is deeply personal and it’s about Dads and we performed a section of the show to a few test audiences and we think we’re on the right track!
Q. What is your go to source when you need a bit of inspiration or are feeling a wave of writers block? Asking for a friend……
Okay so I actually have a lot to say on this one but I’ve been reading up a bit on the creative process and a key thing I read went something like… your process shouldn’t be focused on making art… it should be focused on creating an environment where making art is inevitable. I take lots of breaks, and when I take them I don’t think about the project at all. I go on walks. I talk to people. Honestly in the middle of this process I had a crisis and asked a few close personal friends and mentors what to do and this is some of the advice I got. Also these answers can make it seem like people have all the answers but I’m just on a bus to work at the moment and I’m writing this on my phone and I know absolutely nothing and I’ll probably never figure it out so maybe if you’re reading this in need of a sign that you’re gonna one day “figure it out” and it’s all going to be okay, just remember you’ll probably never figure it out but it WILL be okay.
Q. Favourite Album EVER? (Sorry - we know that’s a tough one).
Lol. Absolutely not. Here’s a few of my favs that I’ve been spinning recently though:
Being Funny In A Foreign Language - The 1975
Be The Wheel - Theo Katzman
Schvitz - Vulfpeck
The Real Thing - May Erlewine
Mothers Milk - Clean Cut Kid
The Stranger - Billy Joel
Dark Matter - Randy Newman
Punisher - Pheobe Bridgers
Song For Our Daughter - Laura Marling
Aaaaaand the soundtrack to Beetlejuice The Musical by Eddie Perfect 😏
Q. Are there any myths or limiting beliefs you held before receiving a grant? Do you have any advice on how to navigate this for prospective artists thinking about applying for a grant?
Okay I have a lot to say here too. There’s a common fear that whoever the grant panel is doesn’t want to give you the grant. The opposite is true. They DESPERATELY want to give you the grant. Whether it’s a large arts organisation or a government funded entity - they have SOME SORT of commitment to give that money out, and they’re just looking for the perfect candidate. It’s the same as going for a job. The interviewee NEEDS to fill the role, and they WANT you to be the one that comes along and saves the day. So all I would say in terms of advice: be the person that can save the day! Read the grant guidelines very well. If the grant is in relation to serving a certain type of Arts and Cultural Strategy, read that too. Know what they want. Call them. Speak to someone. Give them lots of supporting material of your art. Budget PROPERLY, and pay yourself PROPERLY so they take you seriously as an artist (and so you take yourself seriously as an artist, too). And know that your thing is absolutely worth paying for. Always. And if you don’t get the grant, you probably just haven’t found the right way to articulate it yet :)
Q. If you could take yourself back to the moment before you applied for your first Creative Engine grant, what would you tell yourself?
I’d tell myself all of the above.
Also, I never did my homework in high school. I always do my homework now. The homework is there for a reason. It’ll help, trust me. Just find a way to enjoy it. Whatever way you can find to enjoy the homework, use it. There is no wrong answer.
Q. Anything else you want to let the people know? Upcoming gigs… teasing out the new project… etc?
Yes! I’m goin’ around the country on Elvis: A Musical Revolution till July, then probably take a second before doing our new show in all its glory! Keep in touch via my Instagram here: @connormorel_ , and sign up for my mailing list at connormorel.com.au and see you at a show soon!!!
Creative Engine grants are currently open to applications until 9:00am, Monday, 12 February. To find out more about the grants and Geelong Arts Centre's opportunities for artists, head to the Creative Engine page.