Testing Grounds

Creative Development, Emerging Artists

2022 – 2024

You have the idea, you have the drive; what do you do next?


Testing Grounds is a creative development and personal mentorship program for emerging artists interested in the creation and development of new work over a 8 – 9 month period.  The program is a natural extension from the CuriousWorks Writer’s Group, previously called Urban Stories. 

Creative development is slow and weird, and progress is not always linear. Testing Grounds gives program participants the space, time and resources to learn, experiment and reflect not only on what they’re making, but also why and how.

Participants are offered:

  • One-on-one creative development mentorship with industry mentors 
  • Group working sessions for the next stages of development through practical creative industry skills such as grant writing, collaboration and network support
  • Access to CuriousWorks staff and space as a resource during your mentorship

  • Bespoke project development outcomes with an artist stipend


Meet the incredible cohort for Testing Grounds 2024.

From left to right, the mentees for 2024 are as follows: Addy Fong, Cristobal Olguin & Wendy Qi Zhang.

You can read their bios here– watch this space for more info on their projects!


A group shot of the three Testing Grounds mentees and program producer in front of a window

Meet the 2023 Testing Grounds participants!

The Testing Grounds participants for 2023 are (from left to right): Kayla Hill, Nicole Cadelina and Sarrah Carrol!

You can read more about them and their works in development here.

Across the year, the Testing Grounds participants were a part of monthly group sessions where they learned new skills, gave feedback and support, and put in the time to develop new work. Each mentee was also paired with a specific mentor to support where they were with their projects.

The mentees and the projects are:

Nicole Cadelina and Santa Niña, a Filipino-Australia short film, and her first film project as a director. 

Santa Niña focuses on the tumultuous mother-daughter relationship between two Filipina women in Western Sydney. Set during a rainy night at a local church, the two women must learn to reconcile and make amends with one another before Sinulog, a religious event celebrating the Feast of Santo Niño. 

Across 2023, Nicole completed her short film script, ran a crowdfunding campaign through the Australian Cultural Fund and built up her creative team. The film is currently planned for production mid-2024.

Santa Nina Instagram; Nicole Cadelina’s website.

Nicole was mentored by Jules Orcullo.

Sarah Leigh Carroll and Chronically Single, a comedic short-form series for TikTok exploring sex, shame and asexual/demisexual representation.

 Maddi is 25 years old and has never been in a relationship let alone had sex; after she gets rejected, she’s determined to become an expert before she embarrasses herself again. Will she learn virginity is a construct? Or will she finally pop her cherry by episode six?

Sarah has been developing her craft as a theatre maker and performer, but was unfamiliar with the screen world. Through Testing Grounds, Sarah refined her concept, developed scripts and a team for the project, and has learned more about how to navigate the screen world. 

Sarah was mentored by Laurrie Mansfield.

Chronically Single Series IG; Sarah Leigh Carrol’s website

Kayla Hill and Strike!, a tv series peeking into the chaotic world of youth climate activism. 

Strike! is a fictional teen dramedy that explores the insides of the youth climate movement. Think, what goes on with Greta Thunberg and the likes between protests? Surely not any relationships or fights or identity crises or breakdowns…right?

Kayla has spent years as a teen climate activist, but was completely unfamiliar with the screen world. She applied for Testing Grounds with an idea and some writing samples, but she had never written a script.  Through Testing Grounds, Kayla wrote and revised her first pilot script, had a filmed table read with actors, and transformed her project  from an unnamed concept to Strike! She’s currently working on how to independently film the pilot episode.

Kayla was mentored by Elias Nohra.

Strike! IG; Kayla Hill’s website

Since its pilot in 2022, CuriousWorks Testing Grounds program is now proudly supported by Screen NSW.


Headshots from left to right: Natasha Pontoh-Supit, Sivani Yaddanapudi, Kim Pham

The Testing Grounds participants for 2022 are (from left to right): Natasha Pontoh-Supit, Sivani Yaddanapudi and Kim Pham.

Over 2022, this pilot program supported three emerging artists, who each applied for the program with a specific project in mind. Both senior staff and external mentors were brought on to guide and support each artist with their goals and to take the projects to the next stage of creative development – be that writing a grant, script development or proof of concept production. The group were also part of a range of masterclasses including understanding budgets, grant writing and self promotion.

“My mentors Miranda and Andrea not only helped me navigate the often-opaque process of grant writing but also helped pull together funding and a filming crew to film a proof of concept short film for my project as well.” – Kim Pham

“I have been working on an ensemble devised project called The Feminist Race, during my time with Andrea and Miranda at CuriousWorks they were able to provide support both creatively and practically. By helping establish a mentorship with an Artist I wanted to work with, to providing resources and tools on budgets and grant writing. Creatively, they have been able to give critical feedback on my work as a devised piece, both having different approaches to the feedback as well.” – Natasha Pontoh Supit

You can read more about them and their works in development here.

Since its pilot in 2022, CuriousWorks Testing Grounds program is now proudly supported by Screen NSW.


Program Producer: Miranda Aguilar

2022 Mentors: Miranda Aguilar, Andrea Lim, Shy Magsalin

2023 Mentors: Jules Orcullo, Elias Nohra, Laurrie Brannigan-Onato

Supported by ScreenNSW