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Scott Rankin

Theatre director, writer and arts charity leader

2018 Australian of the Year for Tasmania

Scott Rankin

Motivated by the closure of a Burnie paper mill 25 years ago, Scott established Big hART, a charity which uses the arts to bring about social justice. Since 1992, this award-winning theatre director and writer has worked with more than 50 disadvantaged communities to bring about generational change.

Miniature manuals and ‘Chinese junk’ model

Creativity and social conscience are at the heart of Scott Rankin’s work. His organisation, BIG hART, collaborates with communities across the nation to tell their ‘untold’ stories in ways that affirm their experiences, define their aspirations and activate change.

These miniature manuals have been with Scott since the beginning of BIG hART. Pocket-sized and designed to be always at hand, they are full of ideas for running workshops and creating projects. Another work companion, the model junk is symbolic of both Scott’s childhood home and his sense of artistic freedom.

Miniature manuals and a model boat
Miniature manuals and a model boat, on loan from Scott Rankin.

Empowering stories

'We bring the stories of marginalised communities into the mainstream through creative, artistic mediums. Often the communities don’t think they have a story to tell because they’ve never been listened to. But we engage and we listen. It’s harder to hurt someone or ignore them if you know their story.'

Strengthening communities

'Every community and project BIG hART works with is different, but we work over time, not just in and out. Our aim is always to build on existing community assets, strengthen vulnerable individuals, and create long-term attitudinal shifts. Our hope is for all communities to flourish.'

Outside boundaries

'I grew up living on a boat, a Chinese junk, and I think in many ways this influenced my creative life. Not growing up within conventional boundaries meant I often felt on the outside looking in – perhaps useful for a playwright. I was open to trying new things or working across established lines. This small model has always travelled with me, sitting on my desk. Like me, it gets more decrepit over time, a reminder of that early freedom.'

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images courtesy National Australia Day Council.

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