From Post-War Prospect to Cold War Berlin and back again to nearly every venue and festival in Australia, she has been making human meaning in a world that can always do with more of that. Robyn began singing at four years old in her great-grandparents’ hotel The British Hotel, in North Adelaide. Her Dad bought her a ukulele when she was eight, and a teach yourself manual, but the strings hurt her fingers. She picked up the uke again at twelve and quickly saw she could draw a crowd in the schoolyard with her version of Jailhouse Rock. It sort of flows from there. As a singer, she changed a stuffy local music scene by creating a sophisticated and intelligent cabaret space between the two establishments of classical and pop.
What can a singer do to change the world 5 through art and ideas? The best plan would be to model themself on Robyn Archer.
From Annie 1 in the 1974 Australian premiere of Brecht and Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins
, (which opened the Space at the new Adelaide Festival Centre), to A Star is Torn
in the early 80s, to Que reste-t-il
more recently: she is literally and musically a stylish and assertive voice for women. She incarnates female experience on centre-stage, kicking free of the patriarchal distortions, and finding a voice. Robyn began curating festivals in Canberra in the 1990s, and this permitted her to work on an even wider canvas, to bring together forms and voices from all over the country, all over the world.
She has been an entrepreneur for the value of the arts, both as portals to a better society and as ends in themselves. The big idea here is to build a richer and more inclusive culture, where we can all find ourselves: both the peoples who have been here for tens of thousands of years and those who have just arrived in flight from the latest tragedy. These 'big gigs' include two Adelaide Festivals, Tasmania's Ten Days on the Island, Melbourne's Arts Festival, Canberra's Centenary, and (most recently) the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games pre-games cultural program. They all reflect a vision of place and of cosmopolitan belonging. Robyn champions the place of skill-based training in the arts, and lent her expertise to the last attempt at reform of post-secondary arts training in Adelaide. She served a term as Deputy Chair of The Australia Council for the Arts, holds honorary Doctorates and in 2000 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. So, we dedicate the 2018 Adelaide Festival of Ideas to Robyn Archer (AO, CdOAL), a singer, mentor and grande dame of the arts in the nation; a woman defined by her warm enthusiams, and never by negativity. She is of Adelaide and of the world. Her energy and intellectual generosity are unstoppable.