Theatre - June 2008 closing dates

This report summarises outcomes of the meeting of the Australia Council's theatre board on 18-20 August 2008.

The assessment meeting assessed applications from the 1 June 2008 closing date in the new work, skills and arts development, program - presenter, and program - youth arts categories. Key organisations funding recipients from the 1 June 2008 closing date will be announced in late October 2008.

Chair’s comments

This was the first meeting since the theatre board’s funding programs were revised in the light of the Make It New? consultations. There was a new funding category program - presenter grants, and there were changes to new work - production grant category requiring applicants to have a presenting partner involved in their projects.

There was a good response to the program – presenter category and the quality of the proposals was excellent. We could easily have funded more applications if we had had the funds.  As it was, we were pleased that we were able to support a diversity of presenters in five different states. Unsuccessful applicants are reminded that these grants will also be available next year, and we encourage them to consider re-applying.

The changes to new work - production seem to have had an impact on application numbers, as we received fewer applications than ever before. We felt that artists and companies might still be adjusting to the changes, and longer lead times may be necessary to build the partnerships now encouraged. We will certainly be monitoring this trend.   Project-based artists should note that we have funded a series of workshops around the country - navigating and negotiating connections.  These workshops aim to provide independent theatre makers with the skills to secure presenting partners for their work. They will help participants with the mapping of opportunities, planning approaches and negotiation skills. The workshops will be offered in major cities in 2008 and 2009. Please follow the link for more details.

This meeting was also the first time we have assessed applications in the program – youth arts category since our consultation with the sector last year culminating in the release of a communiqué in September 2007. In that document, the board affirmed that it supported youth arts organisations for the following two outcomes:

  • artform development through the development and presentation of the voice and stories of young people
  • professional development pathways that have the potential to help young people become artists or artsworkers.

The theatre board followed through by increasing its budget allocation to this funding category, which over the past two years has risen by 29 percent, and it has been able this year to fund successful organisations at the amount they requested.  Unfortunately this meant the board was not able to fund all applications, although those funded will now have the capacity for significant growth.

The theatre board also discussed a range of other matters:

Circus and physical theatre
The Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association (ACAPTA) submitted its response to the report it commissioned last year entitled Australian Contemporary Circus – Harnessing the Global Opportunity. We discussed the issues raised, and while some matters were out of the Board’s current capacity to respond, we decided to allocate $100,000 over the next two years to increase the directorial and dramaturgical skills within the sector. We will work with ACAPTA to develop the specific projects that will do this.

Interconnections
Research commissioned by the Australia Council's major performing arts board (MPAB) into the interconnections between the major theatre companies and the small to medium sector was presented. We discussed how these interconnections could be enhanced. Both the MPAB and the theatre board are committed to supporting a forum next year that will bring together the key staff of a diverse range of theatre companies, larger and smaller. The aim of the forum will be to imagine the future of theatre as an artform and the infrastructure necessary to support it.

Road work
Road work is a new initiative that aims to tour adventurous theatre and dance work to regional Australia.  A core group of venues will choose and tour two such works each year. The Australia Council’s market development section will support the initiative with funds for marketing and networking, while the dance and theatre boards will each provide up to $10,000 for remount costs if the chosen works are from artists without ongoing funding support.

We also welcomed Matthew Lutton to his first assessment meeting as board member (and myself as first time chair). Many thanks to Fraser Corfield who attended as peer advisor and contributed to a highly rigorous process and will join us in September as a newly appointed board member.

Finally, we join the theatre sector in noting the wonderful contribution Alan Becher made to Australian theatre. Alan passed away at the time of our meeting and we know he will be missed by many.

Rosalba Clemente
Chair, theatre board

Grant recipients

A full list of approved grants from this meeting and all approved grants since the February 2008 meeting is below. 

New work - production
Closing date: 1 June 2008

Campbelltown Arts Centre NSW $50,000
‘The Riot Act’ is a new work about violence and social unrest within disadvantaged communities in the western suburbs of Sydney. It will be presented at Campbelltown and Blacktown Arts Centres.

Stephen Helper NSW $53,800
‘Café Rebetika’ is an exploration of alienation and the desire for community and belonging, through cabaret, theatre and dance. It will be presented at the Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre.

Bagryana Popov VIC $52,807
‘Progress and Melancholy’ is a new physical theatre production inspired by Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’.  It will be presented at fortyfivedownstairs.

Small Things Productions NSW $51,406
Vassily Sigarev’s ‘Ladybird’ is a dark comedy about a group of underclass acquaintances struggling to keep their heads above the poverty line. The Australian premiere will be presented as part of the 2009 B Sharp season at the Downstairs Theatre, Belvoir St.

Version 1.0 NSW $40,000
‘Hurt and Damage’ is a new work that will investigate domestic violence and its treatment in the justice system. It will be presented at the Performance Space, Carriageworks.

New work - creative development
Closing date: 1 June 2008

Acrobat Pty Ltd NSW $33,849
‘Propaganda’ is a work-in-progress physical performance piece about revolutions and revolutionaries. The creative development includes a research and writing period and the investigation of new working methods.

Angus Cerini VIC $21,144
‘The Butcher’ is a performance work to be adapted from an original novella using text, song and dance. The work seeks to re-contextualise and energise debates around gender and sexuality.

Anthony Crowley VIC $5,000
‘The Fatalist’ is a new play developed with mentoring assistance from Malcolm Robertson. It is about an Australian diplomat who, still grieving for the wife he lost to a terrorist attack in Sri Lanka 25 years ago, is sent to India to negotiate a crucial oil treaty.

Ladykillers Inc  SA $39,894
‘Based On A True Story’ is a new contemporary music theatre work about fathers. The work will be developed in collaboration between Ladykillers and the rock band Hope Diamond.

Shh NSW $25,200
‘How To Lose Sight’ is a new work inspired by the true stories of blind Australians. It will explore living without sight and the nature of reality. The three phases of development will focus on architectural design, use of blind technologies such as HumanWare, and mapping of movement and dialogue.

Slingsby Theatre Company Ltd SA $35,000
‘Man Covets Bird’ is a new touring production to be developed for ages 10+. It incorporates a solo performer, three live musicians and large scale animation. The development will include script and design, animation and sound composition, and the integration of these.

Steamworks Arts Productions WA $46,568
‘Eliza!’ is a contemporary multi-disciplinary theatre work to be developed from the true story of Eliza Fraser. This stage is for the research and the development of themes, methodologies and storyboarding.

The Lonely Instrument Collective VIC $10,460
‘The Lonely Instrument’ is a new work based on ‘Vampirella’ and the Country Women’s Association's Cookery Book. This development phase will include the exploration, construction and integration of the structural design elements of the work.

New work - young artists initiative
Closing date: 1 June 2008

A4 NSW $10,680
A team of Flying Fruit Fly graduates will create a new floor-based, narrative, physical theatre work based on Dostoyevsky’s ‘White Nights’.

Duck House WA $14,995
‘The Many Secret Thoughts of Oscar’ is a new collaborative theatre work. It will be presented at the Rechabites Hall in Perth.

Restaged Histories QLD $15,000
‘Last Days of the New Theatricals’ will be workshopped with emerging playwright Maxine Mellor. It will culminate in a showcase performance supported by the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Skills development
Closing date: 1 June 2008

Dvora Liberman NSW $2,755
This grant supports a five week placement with Gruppe 38 in Arhus, Denmark to observe and participate in a second stage creative development of ‘The Holy Night’ in October and November 2008.

James McKay NSW $7,000
This grant will support an opportunity to observe international best practice and environmentally sustainable practices in theatre set construction in the UK, Germany and USA.

Rebecca Massey NSW $5,224
This grant will support a residency to study the Kathakali technique in India at the Kerala Kalamandalam University in Thrissur and the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

Jamie Mears NSW $7,000
This grant will support a nine-month intensive theatre training in physical theatre, mask work, improvisation, bouffon and devising at the L’ecole Philippe Gaulier.

Artform development
Closing date: 1 June 2008

The Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association Inc (ACAPTA) VIC $34,000
This grant will support the development and implementation of ACAPTA’s 2009 program of activities.

International Festival of Young Playwrights Ltd SA $45,000
This grant is a contribution towards the delivery of the 2009 World Interplay Festival and planning for World Interplay 2010.

Program - presenter
Closing date: 1 June 2008

Arts House VIC $150,000
This grant will support the expansion of the annual Art House performance program for 2009-2011 through the development and presentation of new critically engaged theatre works.

Australian Festival for Young People QLD $150,000
This grant will support the Jump Start Commissioning Program for 2009-2011 in the creation and presentation of new contemporary work as part of the biennial Come Out Festival.

Brisbane Powerhouse QLD $150,000
This grant will support the development and presentation of new, challenging and diverse works as part of Brisbane Powerhouse’s annual ‘Is Theatre’ season for 2009-2011.

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts WA $150,000
This grant will support the creation, development and presentation of new contemporary theatre at PICA for 2009-2011 through two new programs: ARCH and BITE.

Tamarama Rock Surfers NSW $150,000
This grant will support the development and presentation of new Australian writing and performance by emerging and established writers and theatre practitioners for 2009-2011.

Performance Space NSW $150,000
This grant will support the presentation of a selected group of works across multiple performance languages within the Performance Space program for 2009-2011.

Victorian Arts Centre VIC $150,000
This grant will support FULL TILT to develop and present new contemporary performance work by independent artists and small-to-medium companies for 2009-2011.

Program - youth arts
Closing date: 1 June 2008

Backbone Youth Arts Association Inc QLD $195,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Brisbane.

Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Inc NT $180,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Darwin and the surrounding regions.

Courthouse Youth Arts Centre Inc VIC $180,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young emerging artists in Geelong.

Outback Theatre for Young People Inc NSW $225,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in the regional and remote communities of Ivanhoe and Balranald.

Powerhouse Youth Theatre Inc NSW $195,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in western Sydney.

Riverland Youth Theatre Inc SA $195,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in regional South Australia.

Shopfront Theatre for Young People Co-operative Ltd NSW $225,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in south eastern Sydney.

Southern Edge Arts Inc WA $187,500
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Albany and the southern region of Western Australia.

St Martins Youth Arts Centre VIC $198,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Melbourne.

Tantrum Theatre Co-operative Ltd, NSW $135,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Newcastle.

The Canberra Youth Theatre ACT $180,000
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Canberra.

Urban Myth Theatre of Youth Inc SA $217,500
This grant will support the company’s 2009 – 2011 artistic programs and activities for young people in Adelaide. 

Playing the world

Acrobat Pty Ltd NSW $40,568
This grant supports a tour of the physical theatre production ‘smaller, poorer, cheaper’ to La Reunion, France, Germany, Belgium, Copenhagen the Netherlands, Spain and Italy from April to December 2008.

Cronin Leak Projects Pty Ltd VIC $25,182
This grant supports a tour of The Spaghetti Western Orchestra performing the works of legendary Italian film composer Ennio Morricone to France, Canada and the USA.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus trading as Circa QLD $46,000
This grant supports a major tour of ‘Volt/Circa’, being the  in-repertoire productions 'by the light of the stars that are no longer...' and 'The Space Between' together with a new work 'Furioso' to fifteen European venues produced by Konzertdirektion Landgraf.

Rosie Dennis NSW $7,250
This grant supports a tour of ‘Love Song Dedication’ and ‘Hitting a Brick Wall’ to Frankfurt, Amsterdam and the UK, and participation in two international collaborations, the rehearsal of ‘No Entry’ in residence at Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt, and the creative development of ‘Fraudulent Behaviour’ in residence at Arnolfini, Bristol.

Stalker Stilt Theatre Inc NSW $23,221
This grant supports a tour of ‘StiltBreak’, a theatre work fusing hip-hop and break dance with stilt acrobatics, to London, Holland, Newcastle, Stockton and other European festivals from June to August 2008.

The Suitcase Royale VIC $16,895
This grant supports a tour of 'Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon' to Ireland for the Dublin Fringe Festival, Dublin, and the UK, at the Soho Theatre, London, and to begin an international collaboration on 'The Newsboys' with the UK duo Lone Twin.

Initiatives

Managing and producing services (MAPS)

Brisbane Community Arts Centre Ltd QLD $300,000
A partnership between Arts Qld and the Australia Council's Theatre and Dance Boards, this 2008 - 2011 grant supports Metro Arts and Brisbane Powerhouse to deliver subsidised production, management, touring and marketing support to independent theatre and dance artists with in Brisbane.

Strut and Fret Production House VIC $300,000
A partnership between Arts Victoria and the Australia Council’s Theatre and Dance Boards, this grant supports Strut and Fret to provide independent theatre and dance artists with subsidised production, management, touring and marketing support in Victoria for 2008 – 2011.

Department of Culture and the Arts WA $150,000
A partnership between the WA Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) and the Australia Council’s Theatre and Dance Boards, this grant supports Performing Lines to provide independent theatre and dance artists with subsidised production, management, touring and marketing support in WA for 2008 – 2011.

Flying start

Outback Theatre for Young People Inc NSW $3,000
Company Manager, Carlie Mason will undertake a twelve-month professional development mentorship with Heather Marsh, GM, Western Edge Youth Arts, and attend a professional development workshop in March/April 2008.

Polyglot Puppet Theatre Ltd VIC $3,000
General Manager, Simon Abrahams will attend the 20th UNIMA Congress and World Puppetry Festival (Perth) and ASSITEJ World Theatre for Young People Congress (Adelaide), and professional development meetings with general managers of six similar companies.

Southern Youth Theatre Ensemble Inc SA $2,345
General Manager, Claire Astill will undertake professional development training at the University of Adelaide, and a seven-month mentorship with Emma Webb, Company Manager, Kurruru Indigenous Youth Performing Arts.

Tantrum Theatre Co-Operative Ltd NSW $3,000
Artistic Director, Brendan O’Connell will undertake a ten-month mentorship with Claudia Chidiac, Artistic Director, Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Chris Kohn, Arena Theatre, and attend the Melbourne International Arts Festival workshops and the 2009 Come Out Festival in Adelaide.

New visions, new voices

Christopher Mead NSW $7,320
This grant supports Chris Mead’s attendance at the 2008 New Visions New Voices Festival in Washington as a festival dramaturg to be a resource for festival participants and to provide advice on workshopping new theatre works for young people. 

Indigenous theatre

Arts Queensland QLD $159,000
The Indigenous Theatre Initiative is a collaboration with Arts Queensland that aims to create in Queensland a supportive environment for the best Australian Indigenous theatre artists to create new work, to support the presentation of high quality contemporary Indigenous theatre work, and to support professional development pathways for emerging Indigenous theatre artists.

Review of theatre and performance in the NT

Anzarts Institute Ltd NSW $29,642
Anzarts's director Justin Macdonnell undertook a consultancy to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Northern Territory’s theatre sector and the broader performing arts in order to identify gaps, opportunities and needs and to provide recommendations for prioritised strategies for sector development and investment. The project was co-commissioned by Arts NT and the Theatre Board of the Australia Council.

Developing writing for performance in WA

Department of Culture and the Arts WA $115,420
This is a collaboration with the WA Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) to provide professional development opportunities for Western Australian playwrights and to support skills development opportunities for Western Australian-based dramaturgs.  It will run from June 2008 until July 2010 and is managed by the DCA.

Local stages

South Australian Country Arts Trust (CASA) SA $150,000
CASA in partnership with Arts SA and the Theatre Board will run the Local Stages initiative to ensure that the regional experience is given artistic expression in the performing arts.  The creative producer Steve Mayhew will create programs to develop professional practice and foster local professional theatre-making in regional South Australia over the period 2009-2011.

Critical stages

Darlinghurst Theatre NSW $177,000
Managed by Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Critical Stages tours smaller scale independent theatre productions across Australia. It provides theatre artists with infrastructure and the necessary resources to tour their work, and performing art centres and presenters with ready access to high quality productions.

Statistical summary

Grants

Program Apps received Apps approved Rate Requested Approved
New work - production 26 5 19.2% $1,071,170  $248,013
New work - creative development 41 8 19.5% $913,701  $217,115
New work young artists initiative 8 37.5% $111,782  $40,675
Skills development 10 3 30% $65,224  $19,224
Artform development 3 66.7% $118,500  $79,000
Program - presenter 17 41.2% $2,550,000  $1,050,000
Program - youth arts 17 12  70.6% $3,063,000  $2,313,000
TOTAL 122 40 32.8% $7,893,377  $3,967,027

For program - presenter and youth arts, the requested and approved amounts are for three years 2009-2011.

Initiatives

Program Apps received Apps approved Rate Requested Approved
Out of time 100% $2,755  $2,755 
Initiatives 16 6 37.5% $4,054,062  $1,054,062
Flying start 4 100% $11,345  $11,345
Playing the world 25 24% $455,684  $159,116
TOTAL 46 17 37% $4,523,846  $1,227,278

All amounts are since February 2008 theatre board meeting. The managing and producing services initiative requested and approved amounts are for three years 2009-2011.

Meeting participants

Theatre board members: Rosalba Clemente chair (SA), Elizabeth Butcher AM (NSW), Pam Creed (Vic), Annette Downs (Tas), Matt Lutton (WA), and Chris Puplick AM (NSW).

Fraser Corfield (artistic director, Backbone Youth Theatre, Qld) attended as a participating advisor. Mr Corfield was absent for the assessment of the program - youth arts category.

Theatre staff: John Baylis Antonietta Morgillo, Kate Major, Ange Cecco, Ann Petrou, Maria Stevenson.

Other Australia Council staff: Ben Strout, Tony Grybowski, Jen McLachlan, Kate Lidbetter, Jacqueline Bailey, Kim Hanna and Sandra Bender.

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