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Off The Leash in the Northern Territory

Since 2007, Off The Leash (OTL) has kept locals and welcome visitors up to date with what’s happening across the Top End, through a monthly street press magazine and comprehensive website covering everything from art and music to theatre, film, festivals, and more.

It’s helped to share the outcomes of ideas brought to life on a verandah, in a backyard or around a rickety kitchen table by creative Territory minds. And in exciting news, from this edition, OTL has expanded its reach to be Territory-wide.

By Jess Ong

There are lots of things to love about living in the Northern Territory. The vast, expansive skies, the patterns of red dirt decorating car doors, the sway of the Arafura Sea, the honking of magpie geese and the cry of the curlew, the opportunity for adventure, and most importantly, the willingness to take creative risks.

There’s a vibrant and gutsy creative pulse in the Territory, and while you need a groundswell of people and their ideas to generate momentum, you also need that pulse to be circulated.

Implementing a change as big as the Territory-wide expansion, in a place as sprawling as the Northern Territory, doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s a proud moment that’s been a little while coming for Tierney Seccull, OTL’s Managing Editor and Development Manager.

“We are so happy to finally be here! It's something we've been working towards since I came on deck in 2019. There were a few logistical obstacles to overcome, especially with distribution – throw a pandemic in the mix and we had to cool our jets a little longer than we’d have hoped,” she says.

“There will be teething issues as the year unfolds, so we appreciate the patience of our dedicated readers and new audiences as we navigate this exciting new phase.”

In 2021, OTL engaged business consultancy firm IER, whose clients include the likes of Cricket Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the AFL, to conduct a survey to measure the impact of the small not-for-profit organisation. This was especially exciting as it’s data that’s never before been captured.

“The results blew us away. We’re so proud to see this expansion come to fruition, and recognise the important thread Off The Leash weaves in the creative and cultural fabric of the NT. We’re excited to see how much noise we can make moving forward!”

According to Off The Leash’s Chair, Sally Clifford, the expansion was part of the magazine’s strategy for a number of years.

Now that things are in motion, “we’re hoping it will encourage even more movement between Darwin and Alice to check out festivals, live music, theatre, dance, exhibitions and the unique offerings of First Nations artists and arts organisations,” she says.

This anticipation of movement up and down the track to support the cultural and creative industries is justified. IER’s study found an estimated 182,000 attendances to creative events and activity were motivated in some way by OTL.

Someone who’s proud to play a substantial part in OTL’s new direction is Darwin-based businessman, Michael Sitzler. Born in Alice Springs/ Mparntwe, he regularly travels back to Central Australia, and has personally chipped in to support the expansion over the next three years.

Michael’s welcome contribution will specifically go towards engaging Central Australian-based writers, and support costs associated with distribution.

“The Territory is intrinsically artistic and has a very unique way of demonstrating its art and culture, particularly as part of the world’s oldest continual living culture making it very specifically Territorian,” he says.

“I’m proud to be a Territorian, and in my own way strive to ensure all parts of the Territory are linked and receive equal exposure to the Territory’s efforts and outputs. I see supporting Off The Leash to ensure it’s a Territory-wide arts publication as a good way of linking us all and hope you do, too.”

The tentacles of OTL reaching into the rest of the Territory and connecting community through creativity is a sentiment eagerly shared by Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chansey Paech.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, because it’s something I really believe in – we may be small in population here in the Northern Territory but we are big on talent and big on creativity,” he says.

“Whether you’re wanting to visit one of our incredible Aboriginal Art Centres or bathe in glitter at the fabALICE Festival, the region’s creative industries sector is one of the most diverse and vibrant in all of Australia, matched only by the Top End and surpassed by none.”

Your calendar is going to be full to the brim with more creative excitement to juggle. You can get your hands on a physical copy of Off The Leash 10 times a year, while the website never sleeps. Now you really have no excuse to not know what’s happening in your backyard, both up and down the track!

See you somewhere creative and colourful around the Northern Territory, soon.

Our Winning Cover Artist

BIG, HUGE, MASSIVE congratulations to our cover competition winner, Jo Boniface!

We received a large amount of incredible entries from Territorian artists, many deserving of placement on our cover. A warm thank you to all who submitted their artwork, sharing their stories with us.

We felt Jo’s work ‘A Track to the Horizon’ was perfect for this special launch edition because it’s bright, bold and colourful. It contains similar colours to the Off The Leash colour pallet, and tells a beautiful story from the Red Centre to the Top End. It screams fun and party and happiness, and is the perfect vibe for our first NT-wide edition!

Jo is a graphic designer and visual artist, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

My artwork is based on themes of aerial perspectives of landscape and places lived and travelled. I use colour, line, symbols and calligraphic strokes to convey movement and aspects of the natural environment. This work contains walking tracks, seedpods, Nightcliff Foreshore, the sea, the MacDonnell Ranges, a gate and the horizon.

I love the feeling colours convey and the sense of rhythm in a line or brushstroke. I always aim for balance in my work. I lived and worked in Alice Springs for many years before moving to Darwin, which is now my home.

- Jo Boniface

Off The Leash Launch Party in Mparntwe!
Join the Off The Leash team for an Alice Springs Brewing Co. brew and some nibbles to launch the first ever NT-wide edition. With local talent on show, and some goody bags and magazines to take home, we’re keen to launch this baby with a bang! Special thanks to our Party Partners 8CCC Community Radio, Monte’s Lounge and Alice Springs Brewing Co. for their kind contributions. Let’s party!


Thumbnail, header and inset: Jo Boniface, 'A Track to the Horizon', 2021, acrylic on paper, 90x90cm

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