Fittingly, the Award ceremony was held at Cranlana, the home of Sidney and Merlyn Myer that celebrates its 100-year anniversary on 11 March 2020.
This year, three passionate champions of the arts have been recognised for their extraordinary commitment and work. The winners for the 2019 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards are Ensemble Offspring (NSW) – Group Award; Barrie Kosky (Berlin) – Individual Award and Richard Watts (Vic), Facilitator’s Prize.
Group Award ($90,000) – Ensemble Offspring:
A devotion to daring music making has seen Ensemble Offspring premiere over three hundred new works during it 25-year history. Led by acclaimed percussionist Claire Edwardes, Ensemble Offspring comprises some of Australia’s most innovative and virtuosic performers. It champions marginalised compositional voices including female and first nations Australian composers.
“We are thrilled, honoured and humbled to receive the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Group Award for 2020. Being our 25th year in the industry, it feels like a perfect celebration of all our musical achievements so far,” says Claire Edwardes, Artistic Director Ensemble Offspring.
Individual Winner ($60,000) – Barrie Kosky:
The New York times recently named Barrie Kosky as “the most interesting opera director of the past decade” (October 2019) and despite spreading himself across three continents has been a remarkable and influential presence in the Australian arts sector over that same decade.
Kosky’s productions Saul and The Magic Flute have underpinned the resurrection of the Adelaide Festival and his season of The Nose at the Sydney Opera House helped Opera Australia break uncharted ground with audiences and critics alike.
‘’It is with enormous thanks and gratitude that I accept this wonderful award,” says Kosky. “My artistic and cultural ties to Australia are still very important to me and I would like to thank the Myer Foundation for this special honour.”
Facilitator’s Prize ($25,000) – Richard Watts:
Richard Watts is ArtsHub’s National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM. The founder of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Richard currently serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre’s Committee of Management and on the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel. He is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.
“I was first introduced to the transcendent power of the arts by my parents, as a child growing up in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley,” said Watts. “More recently I’ve witnessed another side of the arts – the indefatigable spirit of those who refuse to let the devastation of fire or funding cuts diminish their creativity, their vision, or their capacity to share their work with the world.”
“In my own work – both paid and voluntary – it has been a privilege and a joy helping to nurture, interrogate and promote the Australian performing arts industry in all its forms. My sincere thanks to my friends and family for their support along the way and special thanks to the Sidney Myer Foundation – not only for this generous prize, but for their significant and strategic support of the arts across Australia for so many years.”
The Trustees of the Sidney Myer Foundation believe that real achievement should be recognised and rewarded. It has awarded close to $4 million in the Awards’ 36 years.
The national Awards are determined by a Judging Committee that this year they included: Christie Anthoney, Fraser Corfield, Shelagh Magadza, Fiona Maxwell and Brian Ritchie. The Committee is chaired by Carrillo Gantner AC (Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund) who does not vote.
The Judging Committee recognises past achievements but also gives consideration to the potential of an individual or group to continue their contribution to Australian society through the performing arts.
The Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards were established in 1984 by the Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Sidney Myer, a passionate advocate and great friend to the arts.
For more information about the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards, visit: www.myerfoundation.org.au for details.
Image: Richard Watts, Claire Edwardes and Barrie Kosky – photo by Fiona Hamilton