OPPORTUNITIES | Playwriting Australia

Posted by Thom Smyth, June 30th, 2016

Attention WA Theatre makers!

Deadlines are fast approaching for participating in Playwriting Australia’s 2016 WA Program. Playwriting Australia is expanding their work in Western Australia with a range of new exciting opportunities for playwrights and dramaturgs.

There are two opportunities with deadlines closing soon.

4 July – for bursaries to attend the National Play Festival (27-30 July at the Malthouse Melbourne)

11 July – Dramaturgy Training program with the Blue Room Theatre and Co – Commission with WAAPA

For further information on these programs and to apply, visit the website here >>

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News | AUSCO Marketing Summit – Valuing the Arts

Posted by Thom Smyth, June 16th, 2016

Last week  I (Rachel) hopped on a plane with Thom and went to Adelaide to attend the Australia Council for the Arts Marketing Summit – Valuing the Arts. This being my first marketing summit and the first time I got to fly for work,  I was pretty excited to be one of those people who could say “I’m travelling for work” to shop assistants at the airport.

The venue, The National Wine Centre was beautiful and backs onto the Adelaide  Botanic Gardens, the perfect spot to zen during lunch breaks.

The morning stroll.

The morning stroll.

The conference was a busy two days and it was a valuable experience to be in a room of arts marketers and presenters.

Sean Callanan was a stand out speaker delivering practical information on how to utilise social media. Sean comes from a sport background and runs a successful business Sports Geek. He shared his views, from a marketing perspective, that sport and the arts face similar issues and try to achieve the same goals. We both try to sell tickets, build audiences and keep audiences. It was an insightful look into how the sports industry has achieved major growth and that it happened through marketing. It was clear that there is a lot the arts can adapt from sporting campaigns. Watch his  presentation here.

Sean Callanan referencing Seinfeld.

Sean Callanan referencing Seinfeld

Alli Houseworth of Method.121 from the USA spoke about valuing the audience experience and presented some fantastic case studies from Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, TKTS Ticketing and The Rep Theatre. Alli gave some creative ideas about impacting audience engagement in a venue and utilising the ‘in between’ spaces, like the foyer, to generate discussion and activation pre, middle and post show.  Check out the full presentation here.

Found a greenhouse

Found a greenhouse in the gardens

We experienced a taste of VR (virtual reality) and 360 degree cameras with David Finnegan from Sense6. I found this technology really exciting. Virtual reality has the ability to create accessible and realistic arts experiences to the masses, opening new ways to experience a performance or exhibition to those who might not be able to afford a traditional ticket, or aren’t in the same country. It might not be relevant to every venue or arts practice at this time but it was clear that VR will  heavily impact and enhance the future of human experience.

One thing that was missing from the conference was more of a focus on the value of the artist and their perspective on the issues and topics that came up and what they need from us. Independent artist Nakkiah Lui was present on the first panel of the conference and had some interesting points about how she markets herself as an artist and writer and maintains her artistic/brand integrity. Watch the full discussion here. It felt like the perspective of the artist, especially independent artists and small companies could have been explored more.

Adelaide skyline

Adelaide lights


Attending the summit was a really valuable experience, especially as someone who is new to the industry. It was a great platform to build on existing relationships and create new ones whilst soaking up a lot information and exchanging ideas.

Keep an eye out on the Australia Council website as they upload more videos of presentations from the summit.












OPINION | Don’t take your love from town – Ryan Taaffe

Posted by Thom Smyth, June 15th, 2016

This is the first in our new blog series ‘Opinion’, discussing topical subjects locally, nationally and internationally.

Ryan Taaffe is the Executive Officer at CircuitWest, the Western Australian state network for performing arts presenters and people involved in regional and metropolitan performing arts. They:

Connect – Broker relationships and bring people and organisations together where there is potential for mutual benefit.

Enable – Through the connection between stakeholders [primarily presenters and producers] enable shared understanding and a culture of collaboration.

Develop – Through collaboration and shared understanding, develop creative projects and new ways of working

We asked Ryan if he had anything to say and here it is.


Ryan Taaffe | CircuitWest

Governments of all sizes often tend to look at our performing arts venues as a line on a spreadsheet and in a world dominated by KPI’s and outcomes sometimes we overlook these venues’ many and diverse achievements beyond a budget bottom line.

Governments need to look at their community cultural plan or their community development plan and investigate the KPI’s that are being met for them everyday by the venue in their community. Their investment into these venues, in some cases, is not measured in this way. And with no adequate framework for reporting the venues may be assessed purely by the income vs expenditure lines on a budget.

In many places, arts venues are the main hub for the creation of and participation in arts and culture, and also are often a central meeting place for the community. They provide a place for creative thinkers and creative communities to meet and exchange ideas and practice. They are a home for the activities that a community cares about to take place.

Venues with strong programming provide a place to escape the everyday and enter a world of stories outside our day-to-day lives. They can also provide inspiration for someone to become the next big thing in arts and culture or to develop a love for music, theatre or dance.

Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre

Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre

Venues can expose a community to a plethora of activity that some would otherwise have no chance to experience, be it a tour of work specifically designed for children with special needs or the latest piece of dramatic theatre. Venues provide a place to find joy and come together to experience the world through arts and culture.

Venues provide the experiences and stories that communities see themselves reflected in; the work that tells their local stories and the stories that should be told. Further, these are the places in communities that moves the art ahead, and the risk is that our arts and culture stagnates as a result of the defunding of this all important incubator part of the sector.

On a day-to-day basis, venues can provide excellent activities for your community to take part in be it the local painters, the local dramatic society, dance school or youth group. These are the activities that bring communities together.

Venues may not solve a budget issue but they do build the heart of a town or community. They do put money pack into the economy in visitor nights and meals money expended by touring parties. They support local schools and local groups and provide a range of valuable social impacts from health to education to a sense of belonging.

Cummins Theatre, Merredin

Cummins Theatre, Merredin

All of this is, of course, dependent on a network that begins with an audience and stretches across the sector to artists and producers and tour coordinators. All of these people have to work in partnership to ensure that a community has the capacity to celebrate arts and culture.

When you think about it, have you hugged your venue today

-Ryan Taaffe

Ryan Taaffe is the Executive Officer for CircuitWest – The Western Australian Presenters Association. Until recently Ryan was the General Manager of the Koorliny Arts Centre in Kwinana, Western Australia. In his tenure Ryan was responsible for returning the Centre to a programming focus and ensuring that the Centre actively participated in the sector. He studied Theatre and Musical Theatre at University and has previously worked as a Policy Advisor for Minister’s at a state level and the social services sector at a federal level. Ryan has a strong commitment to the performing arts sector and through CircuitWest enabling the sector to collaborate and develop.

If you have a burning issue and would like to write about it, email thom@performinglineswa.org.au