At the annual Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture at Belvoir St Theatre on Monday night, presented by Nick Schlieper, Artistic Director Eamon Flack announced a major new independent theatre program – 25A – which reopens the Downstairs Theatre to independent artists, the inaugural Andrew Cameron Fellowship for an emerging artistic leader, and the launch of a discount ticket program for artists for 2018.
“Belvoir has always been a home for artists, established and new, and we’ve always been the place where the artists of the future have cut their teeth,” said Flack. “After the recent blows to the small to medium sector and the shrinkage of spaces available to independent artists, the time feels right for us to open up new opportunities. We’d like to think these new programs are a big deal for emerging artists.”
In 2018 Belvoir will launch a new independent theatre program which will see the beloved Downstairs Theatre given to teams of artists for free. “This is the lynchpin of our support for independent and emerging artists,” said Flack. “There’s nothing so valuable when you’re learning your trade as putting on a show. But it can be difficult and expensive to find a space to do that.”
The model is a new one, created through discussion with artists and designed to be highly artist-focused. The season will be open to the public!
“How do you create a situation where artists can focus on the work itself and not get distracted by the producing demands which have sunk so many indie shows over the years?” said Flack. “The idea here is to significantly limit the costs to artists. We’ll provide the theatre and a rehearsal space for free, and the artists will be expected to work to a financial limit and a set of rules. It’s not unlike the Dogme filmmaking manifesto.”
“It’s about access for audiences and artists. The real prize here though is the Downstairs Theatre itself, which has always been a playground for the great talent of the future,” added Flack. “The list of people who began and formed their working lives there is a remarkable one. Of the current generation of artistic leaders you have Lee Lewis, Simon Stone, Wayne Blair, Kate Mulvany, Yael Stone, Sam Strong, Imara Savage, Anne-Louise Sarks, myself… the list could go on.”
The inaugural season will be open for applications in the coming weeks and launched in January 2018. You can register your interest in 25A now at: www.twentyfivea.com.au
Andrew Cameron Fellowship
Also announced was the inaugural Andrew Cameron Fellowship for 2018. Supported by, and in honour of former Belvoir Chair, Andrew Cameron AM, the Fellowship will enable the establishment of a new Associate Artist position at Belvoir to support an emerging artistic leader in their career.
The Andrew Cameron Fellow will work alongside senior artists at Belvoir over a two-year period. They will work across all of the company’s artistic and programming work, from the development of new work to season programming.
“Andrew has always had such unwavering belief in the work we do at Belvoir,” said Artistic Director Eamon Flack. “He has been extraordinarily generous to the company and its artists for many, many years. When he offered to continue to support the company after he finished up as Chair it seemed only fitting that we offered something special in return – so we’ve named the position for Andrew.”
“Opportunities like these are rare in Australian theatre, but they’re invaluable,” said Flack. “Whether you’re an actor wanting to move into artistic leadership or a young director with big ambitions, the chance to sit inside a company is a special thing – to eavesdrop on great artists, to see the connections between the work and the business – it’s stuff you can’t learn any other way. We hope this will set us up for the future.”
“I’m passionate about succession in the arts and I believe it is essential for the industry’s ongoing success that emerging leaders have the opportunity to work within thriving companies like Belvoir,” said Cameron. “It’s no mistake that many Artistic Directors come from more junior positions in programming teams as there is no replacing that hands-on experience.”
“I have also seen firsthand how Belvoir creates extraordinary theatre with an extraordinarily small programming team, so it will be a great boost for the company to have an extra head and set of hands in that team.”
Applications for the 2018 Andrew Cameron Fellowship will be open via the Belvoir website.
Artist Ticket Program
Starting in 2018 Belvoir will offer artists $20 tickets to selected performances of all shows in the season. Artists will be required to register for the scheme and demonstrate that they are actively working in theatre to be eligible.
“For young artists in particular the cost of seeing shows can be prohibitive. We’ve just seen the Australia Council’s regular report on artist wages come out and we recognise that there’s a cruel irony that artists often can’t afford to see their own art form,” said Flack.
2017 Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights
Also announced Monday night was the Parsons Fellowship. Awarded annually to an early career playwright, the recipient of the Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights in 2017 has been announced as Emme Hoy – who will receive a $15,000 commission to develop a new work with Belvoir’s guidance and dramaturgical assistance.
Hoy completed her MFA in Writing for Performance at NIDA in 2016, is currently resident playwright at the Old 505 Theatre, co-director of Pretty Nice Company, and her play Salem was performed at NIDA’s Playhouse Theatre. She was also shortlisted this year for the Patrick White Playwright’s Award and the Griffin Award.
In winning the Philip Parsons Fellowship, Hoy is in terrific company, with past winners including Nakkiah Lui (Kill the Messenger), Kit Brookman (The Great Fire), Zoe Coombs Marr (Is This Thing On?), and Matthew Whittet (Seventeen).
“The judges were impressed by Emme’s unique voice and theatrical bravery. Her work is ambitious, playful and daring and we’re excited to work with her at Belvoir,” said Anthea Williams, judge and Belvoir’s Associate Director – New Work.
For more information on all of Belvoir’s initiatives, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Emme Hoy is the 2017 recipient of the Philip Parsons Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights – photo by Amy Goodhew