OPPORTUNITY | Navigating the touring jungle

Posted by Thom Smyth, February 14th, 2017

So you were one of the 750 shows that featured as part of this year’s Fringe World Festival. You think your show has legs, and you want another opportunity to revisit it and give it a further life. What do you do next?

There are many avenues for touring your show, but finding your way through the jungle can be a little daunting. Fear not – we’ve got a handy round up to help point you in the right direction for your work.

Our biggest tip – do your research! Jump onto some venue websites to see what they are programming – it’s the venues that make the ultimate decision what goes on their stages. Check out the showcase events and what sort of shows they are featuring. Have a chat to other artists who have toured.

Performing Lines & Performing Lines WA
At Performing Lines WA, we work with independent Western Australian contemporary artists to get their projects off the ground, including regional and national tours. Recent tours we have completed include Sensorium Theatre’s immersive production for children with disabilities, Oddysea, and The Skeletal System’s Great White by Will O’Mahony.

We also have offices in Sydney and Hobart. Our Sydney office works with artists and companies in any state, while Hobart focusses on Tasmanian artists.

Our focus is on producing contemporary performance – check out our artistic policy here. There are a number of other options that may be a better fit for more traditional theatre, comedy, circus and dance shows.

FIRST UP

National Touring Selector
The first step to getting on the road is to head over to the National Touring Selector to register your production. The NTS is a virtual market for performing arts, bringing together producers and presenters, and offering a comprehensive list of resources and contacts. It is also used by many of the showcase events to take registrations of shows.

WA REGIONAL TOURING

Country Arts WA
Western Australia has a number of options available to support and tour your production. Country Arts WA may be a good first stop for you. They offer an annual Shows on the Go program touring self-contained productions to a mix of managed and volunteer run venues. Want to know more? https://www.countryartswa.asn.au/our-services/touring/

Shows on the Go program
Shows on the Go promotes professional, self-contained productions, and is a community-driven touring model where regional venues vote for the productions they would most like to see performed in their town. An annual Shows on the Go Touring Menu is produced via shows registered on the National Touring Selector website. For information for touring in 2018, please contact the touring team at touring@countryartswa.asn.au


Maybe (   ) Together’s Small Voices Louder successfully pitched at WA Showcase 2016.

CIRCUITWEST | WA Showcase
This is a state-based showcase bringing together West Australian artists and companies with presenters and venues. The Circuitwest WA Showcase will be held on 10 til 12 May 2017 at the Subiaco Arts Centre. Circuitwest is the peak body representing Presenters and Producers in Western Australia.

At last year’s showcase, Alex Desebrock of Maybe (   ) Together pitched the aMoment Caravan and Small Voices Louder. Performing Lines WA picked up Small Voices Louder, and we’ve just opened the premiere at Perth International Arts Festival, while aMoment Caravan just completed a successful season as part of The Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights program.

Submissions are open until 1 March 2017 and feature a variety of different categories to represent your work in the showcase. To submit your show for consideration, click here.

Not sure about pitching? We’d recommend attending a day to see how it all works and seeing if it’s an appropriate forum for your show.

Also – check out the Circuitwest website for a list of venues, news and more.

NATIONAL

APACA PAX (Performing Arts Exchange)
The Performing Arts Exchange (PAX) is the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association’s (APACA) networking and tour development event. The accompanying APACA Conference also offers professional development opportunities with international guest speakers. This year’s event will take place in Sydney from 21 to 24 August 2017. Applications to present at the event will open in April.

ShowBroker
Showbroker, a new performing arts market opportunity, will be launched in Adelaide from 27 February to 1 March 2017, during the Adelaide and Adelaide Fringe festivals. Producers of tour-ready work will be pitching – check out the full program here>>

ArTour
arTour is Queensland’s state-based touring coordinator. It supports performing artists and producers from all around the country to tour work through regional Queensland. arTour runs an annual touring showcase event and will be hosted at the Redland Performing Arts Centre on 21 and 22 March 2017. Applications to pitch have now closed – keep an eye out for next year.

Regional Arts Victoria
Regional Arts Victoria are Victoria’s touring body. Partnering with the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres (VAPAC),  Regional Arts Victoria runs an annual performing arts marketplace Showcase Victoria – this year’s event will be held at Malthouse Theatre from 31 May – 1 June 2017. Applications to pitch have now closed – keep an eye out for next year.


Nicola Gunn’s Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster. Performing Lines secured a recent New York season at APAM 2016.

INTERNATIONAL

Australian Performing Arts Market
If you think your show has international appeal, the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) is Australia’s internationally focused event for contemporary performing arts. Held bi-annually in Brisbane, applications to be part of the 2018 program will open later this year.

FUNDING

A range of funding is available to individuals and performing arts organisations for touring.

The Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA)
The Regional and Remote Touring Fund (RRTF) supports performing arts shows touring to regional and remote towns and communities in Western Australia, and is available for performing arts organisation or artists with a ‘tour ready’ show who can demonstrate support from a minimum of two regional presenters, venues, or communities in regional WA.

Smaller tours may be possible through the Creative and Commercial Development grants system – click here for more info>>

Travel-only support is also available to assist with the costs of pitching at interstate showcase events. Check out the Commercial Development Grants Program for more info.

Australia Council for the Arts
The Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring program supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities  across Australia. These grants are available for individuals and organisations to support the net touring costs associated with national (multi-state) touring.

Smaller tours may be possible through their other grants programs. Click here for more info>>

RESOURCES

Both arTour and Circuitwest websites offer a collection of helpful resources, including tips, templates and videos, when planning a tour.

Still confused? Give us a shout! Shoot an email through to Thom Smyth, Marketing Manager – thom@performinglineswa.org.au


NEWS | Rachael Whitworth reports on ISPA & IPAY

Posted by Cecile Lucas, February 9th, 2017

Our Producer Rachael Whitworth has just returned from a trip to the US, concluding her engagement with the ISPA Australia Council Legacy Program. She attended the ISPA Congress in New York, and the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase in Wisconsin. Too excited to hear all about it, Cecile did not leave her time to catch her breath, and quizzed her on the international experience.

Cecile: You’ve recently attended the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Showcase in Wisconsin, as well as the International Society for Performing Arts (ISPA) Congress in New York. Can you tell us a bit about each?

Rachael: I have been an ISPA Australia Council fellow for the past four years. This has been an amazing opportunity to be a part of the global fellows program which fosters emerging and mid-career arts workers from around the world. The fellows come together for a day before the official congress and it is always my favourite part of the program. It provides insight and understanding of arts practice from around the globe and makes me feel very lucky to be living and working in Australia. Some of the fellows literally risk their lives in their quest to create and distribute art in their home countries.

There is a strong focus on leadership at ISPA: how can we make arts relevant to our communities and continue a legacy of the arts as a mechanism for inclusion and change? This year, the theme was ‘Currents of Change: Arts, Power + Politics’. This focal point was intensified by the state of politics around the world and sharpened the lens on the need for the Arts to provide a voice for those who are being silenced whilst offering insight and a different way of thinking for others.

IPAY is a market and showcase for theatre created for young people. This is a smaller gathering of about 200 people and everyone is extremely friendly and open! The program literally runs from 9am to 11pm every day, with full shows presented, break-out discussions around particular topics, 15 minute pitch sessions and an exhibition hall for meetings. It was pretty exhausting as the four-day showcase was packed but I met a lot of presenters and saw plenty of international work, both good and bad.

What have you found the benefit of these sorts of event to be for the artists you’re working with and for you as a producer?
ISPA is a professional development opportunity for me as a Producer. I have dramatically expanded my international network and have a better picture of how the arts industry operates in different countries around the world. Many of the people I have formed relationships with I may never work directly but certainly some of this network may lead to opportunities for artists. Indeed, we’ve a couple of exciting presentation opportunities in the pipeline….

Travelling to both ISPA and IPAY also provides exposure to a lot of performances that helps to benchmark arts practice in Australia. And so, this benefits artists that we work with at Performing Lines WA as I have a context for what is happening in performance practice around the world and how the work made in Western Australia may or may not fit in different markets.

Did you see any shows that were amazing?
There are lots of festivals happening in NY in January and I try to see as many shows as I can. You might expect everything you see internationally to be amazing when in fact, there is an equal amount of good and bad everywhere. I saw an amazing dance work for young people And then… by Claire Parsons Co (Sweden), The Polar Bears Go up by Fish and Game (UK) and Shh!  We have a plan by Cahoots (Northern Ireland) at IPAY.

And Then...’ by Claire Parsons Co

My favourite shows in NY were part of COIL Festival by PS122: Forced Entertainment’s Real Magic was incredible – it repeated a 10 minute section of a reality show over and over for 90 mins; and A Study on Effort by Bobbi Jene Smith, an intense dance work with a live violinist.


A Study on Effort by Bobbi Jene Smith

How does Australian work you’ve seen compare to the sorts of shows presented at these markets?
The good news is the Australian shows at both conferences were awesome, and some of the best in the program! Nicola Gunn’s Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster (produced by Performing Lines) and Antony Hamilton’s MEETING were standouts at COIL Festival, and Slingsby Theatre’s The Young King won the Victor Award for best show at IPAY as voted by attendees.

I think the standard of Australian work is very high. Much of the best work I saw, particularly in NY, has something very important to say about the world. Whenever I return to Australia, I always have a refreshed sense of making sure we work on projects that not only have artistic rigour but also a clear focus on what the work is trying to say or reflect about our society today.

So imagine I’m a producer from a small-to-medium and/or an independent artist. What advice would you give to me if I’m considering attending a big arts market like these, PAX or APAM?
If you can, I highly recommend attending before you go with something to sell. It’s a chance to meet people, see how other artists and companies represent their shows, and get a feel for how it all works.

If you are wanting your work to tour, you need to have that in your mind from the outset and create the work to be nimble and tourable. That doesn’t necessarily mean small, or cheap-looking, or that its fits into a suitcase, but that it’s smart and made with an eye to how it will pack up and hit the road. Australian work is very expensive to get anywhere, so really consider the set and your cast and touring party size. Good images and interesting description of the work is important in getting people to engage with your idea and form, in what is often, a very competitive and tiring environment.

I think it is always best for presenters to actually see work live which I know is not always possible at these markets. If you know why you have made the work and who you made it for, you can quickly and succinctly direct your work to the presenters who are actually interested.

Got other questions about pitching your work? We can help. Have a chat with Rachael, Fiona or Thom. Shoot us an email at hello@performinglineswa.org.au
Stay tuned for our rundown of upcoming arts markets, and for Thom’s Top Tips for preparing tour marketing materials.


WA Decides – 2016’s Top Performance Picks

Posted by Thom Smyth, December 15th, 2016

It’s that time of the year when we go out to the industry to find out what got people talking and who they’re watching out for in 2017. This year we added a category – the commission. Given a chance to commission a show about anything, what would you pick? Check out the suggestions below.

There was a range of shows and artists mentioned, but the big winner for 2016 was Barking Gecko Theatre Company for their completely charming instant classic Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories. Congrats to the company and all the artists involved. Bambert is off on tour throughout 2017, but if you missed it, keep an eye out for a return season in Perth in late 2017!

Honourable mentions as well to The Last Great Hunt‘s New Owner, Bangarra‘s touring hit Our Land People Stories; and Blackmarket by pvi collective.

And there was a wide range of hot tips for who to look out for next year. Sally Richardson’s new circus company Maxima, dancer and choreographer Tyrone Robinson, and writer and director Will O’Mahony are safe bets to keep tabs on in 2017.

Thanks to all respondents – let us know on Facebook what your top picks were!

Stephen Bevis | Communications Manager, Perth International Arts Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental – 17 Border Crossings: Thaddeus Philip’s virtuoso solo theatre work took us around the world and deep into the personal intensity of trying to enter another country.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Barking Gecko Theatre Company – Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories: This beautiful tale of a bookish recluse sending his stories into the world by balloon won a rare Helpmann Award for a WA company.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Red Ryder Productions – Grounded: Alison Van Reeken’s exhilarating Blue Room performance of George Brant’s taut, morally complex monologue about a fighter pilot-turned-drone operator was an adrenaline rush akin to that craved by the grounded lead character.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017: Will O’Mahony: He never ceases to surprise and assembled a great cast for his Performing Lines/Black Swan co-pro Coma Land.

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Roe 8 – The Musical

 

Rick Heath | Executive Director, Australian Performing Arts Centres Association

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Barking Gecko’s Bambert – this show rocked on so many levels but above all it was quite simply sublimely crafted – and kudos to Tim Watts – I could watch this guy all day!

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: James Berlyn’s I Know, You’re There – a deeply personal experience that resonated in ways indescribable.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Waifs – Fremantle Arts Centre – for the sheer joy of local artists celebrating and sharing their extraordinary talents with ‘their people’.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: James Berlyn – the work of a mature artist who continues to evolve and reimagine what’s possible is always worth watching

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: ‘People in Glass Houses …’ A dance work on the contradictory political career of Peter Garrett featuring the music of Midnight Oil – © all rights reserved R Heath

 

Andrea Gibbs | Performer & Co-creator of Barefaced Stories

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Is This Thing On? by Zoe Coombs-Marr @ The Blue Room Theatre – Of course!

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Barefaced Stories – all of them!

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Bangarra Dance Our Land People Stories at The State Theatre Centre

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Side Pony Productions

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Barefaced Stories Regional

bangarra-ensemble-nyapanyapa-our-land-people-stories-photo-by-jhuny-boy-borja-2

Aaron Beach | Executive Director, Co3 Contemporary Dance Company

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Our, Land People Stories by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Always a thrill to see these guys in Perth, we were lucky enough to have them in WA twice with Terrain touring as well

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Sugarland by Australian Theatre for Young People (toured by Performing Lines). I’m a little biased but I think this was a really important work to present in Perth.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle at Perth International Arts Festival. Incredible magical theatre.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Gavin Webber, Grayson Millwood & The Farm

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Chrissie Parrott, Tyrone Robinson, Antony Hamilton – Let’s look at dance through the eyes of these change-makers!

 

Sharon Custers | General Manager, Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Falling Through Clouds – The Last Great Hunt

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Oddysea – Sensorium Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Kaya – Ochre Contemporary Dance

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Ochre Contemporary Dance

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: The future

 

Aurelien Scannella | Artistic Director, West Australian Ballet

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: West Australian Ballet/Matt Lehmann/Radio and Juliet

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: West Australian Ballet/Chihiro Nomura/The Nutcracker

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: West Australian Ballet/Andre Santos/Ballet at the Quarry

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Chihiro Nomira/West Australian Ballet

 

Matt Edgerton | Artistic Director, Barking Gecko Theatre Company

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: The Blue Room, Porto, Written by Kate Benson, Directed and Produced by Lisa Louttit. This was an exceptional piece of funny and multi-layered new writing, realised with a lot of subtlety and class.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Black Swan State Theatre Company, Tonsils and Tweezers, Written and Directed by Will O’Mahoney. An really inventive new work, directed with pace and precision – full of satisfying revelations and comic delight.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Last Great Hunt, New Owner, Created by Tim Watts and Arielle Gray. A cracking piece of children’s theatre with a lot of heart that never spoke down to its audience. It has a very long life ahead of it!

HONOURABLE MENTION: pvi collective, Blackmarket, Kelli Mccluskey & Steve Bull with Steve Berrick & Chris Williams. Immersive post-apocalyptic mayhem on the mean streets of Subi. So much fun!

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: I’m really looking forward to seeing the work of emerging designer Tyler Hill, designing set and costumes for Endgame, Black Swan State Theatre Company

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Tony Currie | Content Development & Publicity Officer, West Australian Ballet

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster, Nicola Gunn & Performing Lines

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Pindorama, Lia Rodrigues at Perth International Arts Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Decadance, STRUT Dance

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Tyrone Robinson

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC?: Relevance

 

Henry Boston | Executive Director, Chamber of Arts and Culture WA

PERFORMANCE PICK #1:The Wild Duck by Simon Stone, Perth International Arts Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #2:Decadance by STRUT Dance

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: The Punch Brothers

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Maxima

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Ian Sinclair | PONY EXPRESS

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Pindorama by Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues as part of PIAF: A live dance installation that drowned the audience in political, environmental and spiritual extremes.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Blackmarket by PVI COLLECTIVE also part of PIAF. Surviving Subiaco has never been more fun!

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster by the indomitable Nicola Gunn at PICA: an ethically charged, ‘word vomit’ extravaganza complete with a Duck hyper ballad!.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Choreographer Tyrone Robinson; man-about-town Chris Donnelly; Maybe (   ) Together’s Alex Desebrock; all things Mikala Westall x The Lost Boys; visual/performance artist Liam Colgan; Sally Richardson’s new company MAXIMA; Will O’Mahony’s Coma Land presented by Black Swan Theatre Company + Performing Lines WA, new kids on the block Those Who Love You led by Monty Sallur and Your Mouth Collective led by Madeleine Lewis, Lukas Radovich and Phoebe Sullivan.

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: The online radicalisation of straight white men.

 

Jenna Mathie | Producer, The Blue Room Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Grounded – Red Ryder Productions

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories – Barking Gecko Theatre Company

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Our Land People Stories – Bangarra Dance Theatre

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Tim Green and Samantha Maclean are recent graduates from WAAPA’s BPA course who just made their first show and it was a ripper. I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves. I’m also looking forward to seeing Will O’Mahony and Joe Lui making their directorial debuts with Black Swan State Theatre Company and The Last Great Hunt are working on some exciting projects including The Midnight Run as part of PIAF.

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Diverse voices on our stages including culturally and linguistically diverse artists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and artists with disability.

 

Jenny Simpson | Artistic Director & CEO, Awesome Festival

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: New Owner –  The Last Great Hunt

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Oddysea – Sensorium Theatre

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: A Mano (By Hand) – El Patio Teatro

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: Sensorium Theatre

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Empathy

new-owner-dev-image-114

Ryan Taaffe | Executive Director, Circuitwest

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories – Barking Gecko Theatre Company. A beautifully crafted and performed piece that brought childhood back to lots of adults.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: New Owner – The Last Great Hunt. On of the newest offerings from this company and is a touching story that makes use of the digital space and puppetry.

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: I Know You’re There – James Berlyn. A well placed, personal work from a wonderful story teller.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: SAMANTHA MACLEAN AND TIMOTHY GREEN. Getting great reviews and praise for their first outing Tissue at The Blue Room.

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: Unity, mob mentality and fear thinking/communication. The discourse of power and hate speech.

 

Graeme Watson | Editor, Out In Perth

PERFORMANCE PICK #1: On the Face of Things – this Fringe show from WA Youth Theatre Company Ensemble was so much fun, I was captivated.

PERFORMANCE PICK #2: Picnic at Hanging Rock – Black Swan State Theatre, I always loathed the story, and this production made me love it, and it was scary!

PERFORMANCE PICK #3: Vaboux – this odd new drag queen on the scene is always mysterious and creative.

ARTIST/COMPANY TO WATCH IN 2017?: I never have any expectations

2017 COMMISSION TOPIC: I’d like to see more works addressing HIV/AIDS in 2017, we’ve forgotten to talk about this important issue. Especially the reality of living with HIV.


Images by Jon Green, Jhuny Boy Borja, Gregory Lorenzutti, 


WORK WITH US

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 8th, 2016

Performing Lines WA is currently looking for two staff to join our small team – a full-time Associate Producer and a part-time Marketing Coordinator (0.4 FTE).

Applications for both positions close at Midday on Monday 5 December.

 


 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER (full-time) | We are looking for an emerging Producer to learn on the job with our experienced team. This position is suited to a recent graduate or Independent Producer, or someone in a related industry with a keen interest in the performing arts. First Nations community members and members of Culturally And Linguistically Diverse communities are strongly encouraged to apply and will be prioritised in shortlisting process. Download the Application Pack>>

For Associate Producer enquiries, contact: Fiona de Garis, Senior Producer | fiona@performinglineswa.org.au or 08 9200 6213

 


 

MARKETING COORDINATOR (part-time) | Working closely with our national Marketing Manager, the Marketing Coordinator position is suited to those with excellent communication and writing skills with a keen interest in content creation and digital marketing. Download the Application Pack>>

For Marketing Coordinator enquiries, contact: Thom Smyth, National Marketing Manager | thom@performinglineswa.org.au or 08 9200 6212


PROFILE | Jenna Mathie – Producer

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 2nd, 2016

Next up in our profile series, Thom caught up with The Blue Room Theatre’s new-ish Producer Jenna Mathie to talk career paths, LOFT, self-preservation and more.

Thom Smyth | How did you get started in the industry? Have you always had your sights set on producing?
Jenna Mathie | While I was at university a friend of mine asked me to produce a show she was directing. I had been doing some production work at the university theatre but never produced anything in my life so didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for. I said yes, and loved it. After that, I produced a number of shows while I was at university, but started working in the cacophonous world of orchestras and classical music and it fell by the wayside. At some point, I realised I didn’t want to work in music anymore but did want to produce theatre. So when I moved back to Perth in 2014 I did a number of short term contracts that helped me develop the skills I thought I needed to be a producer. Along the way I emailed Susannah Day, the then Producer at The Blue Room Theatre and before I knew it I was working here as Assistant Producer for Summer Nights. Since then, they haven’t been able to get rid of me.

TS | What were some career highlight/s before starting at The Blue Room Theatre?
JM | I’ve been pretty fortunate and have travelled quite a bit through the various positions I have had. In 2013/14 I lived in Cambodia and worked with an inclusive arts organisation which was incredible. It made me realise both the power of the arts in all different forms and at all levels of expertise, but also how lucky I was to be born in Australia and do what I do for a living. I also worked on a presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the music performed live by a symphony orchestra at the Sydney Opera House which was brilliant.

You were appointed to the position earlier this year. What’s been the biggest challenge in taking up the new gig?
JM | Getting yourself out there and trusted by artists can be tricky and takes a while to develop. Having worked here in different roles since 2014, I had a bit of a head start than if I had come in completely new. But the wide variety of personalities and different needs of every artist we work with means it does take a while to build the trust that is so integral to this role. As an organisation The Blue Room Theatre actively tries to assist and support as many artists as possible, which can make saying ‘no’ hard. It has been a learning process on how to not overcommit, but at the end of the day I’m one person, in one organisation, so it is important to say ‘no’ and look after my own sanity as well as the sanity of the other staff members here.

TS | The Blue Room has recently closed its final round of the LOFT devolved funding scheme. What are some of the program’s successes so far? If it is continued, would you want to change anything going forwards?
JM | LOFT has been absolutely wonderful. It’s a platform for support and getting the work of independent artists produced – more than the funds. Just like any show at The Blue Room Theatre, if you walk in the door you get the support of the whole staff. You’ve got a team behind you who are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for LOFT projects.

So far we have had two creative developments, one of which has since been successful in receiving further development opportunities, and the other which has a very exciting 2017 in the pipeline, as well as a killer season of Those Who Fall in Love Like Anchors Dropped Upon The Ocean Floor at Griffin Theatre in Sydney (the first WA show in the Griffin Indie Program). It’s been great to see artists and producers who have been successful in receiving funding through LOFT leverage that support to secure other funding and opportunities.

With each round of LOFT we invite peer assessors from the Eastern States to sit on our panels, building networks and getting West Australian works in front of artists and arts leaders from around the country. Continuing to build these networks and provide opportunities for presentation, development or exchanges interstate is something we would love to ramp up.

project-xan
Project Xan by jedda Productions (funded through LOFT)

Going forward, it would be great if we had more money to give to independent West Australian artists, as each round has been so competitive and it is always a difficult decision for the panels. With the limited amount of opportunities available in Perth, we want to support more mid-career and established artists in developing and presenting the biggest and boldest ideas they have. Project Xan is a wonderful example of this and it opens at PICA in a few weeks, so make sure you check it out.

TS | The arts industry is kind of notorious for consuming your time and energy. What keeps you going?
JM | I really love what I do and the artists that I get to work with. I spend a lot of time at work, seeing shows and talking to artists and producers which can be tiring. But at the end of the day I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than around engaged, curious and intelligent people, and in Perth we are lucky to have a lot of artists that fit that description. That said, I do turn emails off on my phone every evening and weekend, so as soon as I am out of the door here the administrative side of work stops, even if I am talking about or seeing theatre. I think that’s really important, to draw boundaries for yourself and stick to them.

TS | The role of the ‘Producer’ varies widely across organisations. What do you see as the role of the Producer in an organisation like the Blue Room?
JM | Yes, Producer absolutely does mean something different in every organisation. At The Blue Room Theatre, all of the productions we work with in presentation seasons or through the LOFT initiative have their own Producer as well. So I see my position as providing assistance and advice to those Producers to make sure they are feeling supported, well-resourced and like they have someone to come to with any questions or queries along the way. I think about it as endeavouring to produce a sustainable independent theatre sector in Perth; so creating and managing opportunities to help make this a reality. This is not only done through presentation seasons, but through professional development programs and also the advocacy and support we offer members and shows.

TS | What is on the horizon for the Blue Room in 2017 and beyond?
JM | We kick off the year with Summer Nights, which is our curated program of theatre and performance in FRINGE WORLD. For the first time we are programming the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA, which is very exciting, and some brilliant WA artists are presenting in the space. This is an opportunity we are really proud to be able to provide. We will be starting a few new professional development programs, as well as continuing to support West Australian artists to develop and push the boundaries of their artistic practice, from the emerging to the established.

jedda Productions’ Project Xan by Hellie Turner
8 – 19 November 2016 | PICA Performance Space
Tickets/info>>

The Blue Room Theatre | Season Two
[Porto] | Finishes Saturday | Tickets/info>>
Tissue | 8 – 26 November | Tickets/info>>
Signifying Nothing | 15 Nov – 3 Dec | Tickets/info>>