APATA – The Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association


Yolande (Lou) Smith


MAICD / Master of Management (Arts & Culture) / Master of Management (Events & Tourism) / BA (Theatre Arts) / Cert.IV (Training & Assessment)

My Story!

From as far back as I can remember, and further if my mum can be believed, I have loved the performing arts. At the age of 5, after lots of nagging I stepped into my first dance class. From that moment till today my passion for the arts and everything in and around it has blossomed. Growing up in a regional area back in the 70’s there were limited chances to interact with the arts. I was lucky enough to have an amazing teacher. My first teacher was a focused and passionate woman who brought me into her world and showed me how beautiful the arts can be. Hard work, creativity, collaboration and the joy of performance. Whether I was sweating it out in a Mackay dance studio or performing in a St Joeys end of year musical I was hooked.

Today, after years of working in the arts and events industries across management, strategy and education, I still go to dance class. The muscles don’t flex like they once did but barre still brings me a sense of peace and happiness. It’s that feeling that started with a little girl in her first class that has inspired me to build APATA and celebrate all the teachers that helped all of us love our art, whether it be dance, drama, circus, design, technical or the myriad of disciplines that surround us!

With a focus on building knowledge and experience I have studied and worked across a wide variety of arts, events and education environments. Across the country I’ve worked in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane while at the same time studying to complete a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre) with the University of Southern Queensland followed by a double masters with the University of South Australia undertaking a Master of Management (Arts & Cultural Management) and a Master of Management (Tourism & Event Management).

Intrigued by the dynamics and collaboration of many to produce and present productions – a round table of experts coming together to align a vision and story to be entrusted into the hands of an audience is enthralling. Working in theatre, across creative places and spaces, major event planning and strategy development my career has only been achieved through the guidance and foundations of teachers and mentors, starting at the tender age of 5 through to this very day.

I truly believe a strong and bountiful creative industry comes from the grass roots, that is, the teachers who run their own studio’s, work in schools, deliver workshops and lessons, produce industry productions, or work as academics – all nurture talents, passions, and aspirations. All performing arts teachers share their knowledge and lessons every day contributing to the creative fabric of our country. Teachers are the true founders of our performing arts industry!

As a Sessional Academic between projects over the past several year’s I’ve had the pleasure to work with Griffith University, The University of Queensland, JMC Academy and TAFE. I’ve treasured the experience to work alongside students and contribute towards their education and practical experience as they seek careers in the arts, events and entertainment arena. It’s been immensely rewarding.

Whoever you are and whatever your area of expertise, it’s my hope that you’ll embrace and experience all that we have to offer across our community at APATA sharing your ideas, stories, experiences and passions.

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