A national theatre festival, productions using digital technology and an innovative circus company are some of the artists and organisations to benefit from more than $5.5 million in funding from the Australia Council for the Arts.
Australia Council Director Theatre Lyn Wallis said the grants would help playwrights, theatre companies and artists create new work, perform live and mentor emerging talent.
The Theatre Peer Assessment Panel has awarded its first allocation of the prestigious Creative Australia Emerging Presenter and New Digital Theatre grants, which provide between $150,000 to $250,000 over three years to create and present new work, Ms Wallis said.
The theatre section of the Australia Council has long supported venue-based presenters to partner with independent artists, but there has been a concern about the lack of funding for artist-driven initiatives to develop their own programs.
The Emerging Presenter category was designed to support over three years artist-driven initiatives and collectives that develop their own seasons or programs of independent theatre and present it to the public.
Melbourne Live Art collective Field Theory and Crack Theatre Festival, held over the October long weekend in Newcastle, have been supported under this category.
Crack Theatre Festival’s program rated highly for its national focus and the opportunities presented for independent artists beyond NSW, Ms Wallis said.
The panel was impressed by Field Theory’s application, which represented a group of talented and resourceful independent artists coming together to support each other through a program of site specific performances.
Ms Wallis said the New Digital Theatre category was established to support the sector engage with new creative technologies and digital platforms.
Applicants were required to present programs providing mentoring, producing support and strategic advice to independent emerging or established artists to create new theatre works that engage uniquely with digital platforms and connect with creative digital communities, Ms Wallis said.
Melbourne-based Arts House and the South Australian Country Arts Trust have been supported in this category.
The Arts House proposal featured a genuinely exciting and inventive program using mobile platforms that will leave a wonderful legacy for future artists, Ms Wallis said.
The South Australian Country Arts Trust presented an outstanding program that will engage audiences in regional areas, including Whyalla, Mount Gambier and Port Pirie, using digital technology.
Other grant categories assessed were for Key Organisations and Program Presenter.
Five existing Key Organisations applied for three-year funding Playwriting Australia (Redfern, NSW), Arena Theatre Company (Melbourne, Vic), Pact Theatre for Emerging Artists (Erskineville, NSW), Circa (Brisbane, Qld) and Just Us Theatre Ensemble (Cairns, Qld) – and all were funded, Ms Wallis said.
The Program Presenter category has supported a diverse range of innovative theatre organisations and venues, including two from regional Australia Merrigong Theatre Company (Wollongong, NSW) and Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (Bathurst, NSW).
Vitalstatistix (Port Adelaide, SA) and Brisbane Community Arts Centre (Qld) have also been supported to develop and present contemporary work.