2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards Announced

The-Street-Theatre-Caroline-StaceyCelebrating the nation’s creative leaders and recognising the role that art and artists play in affirming our sense of self, our national identity and our community spirit could not be more important than it is at this moment.

Andrew Myer AM, Chairman, Sidney Myer Fund has announced the winners of the 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards. The 2020 Awards have been expanded from the usual three (individual, facilitator and group) to eight Awards (including at least one in each Australian state and territory – three individuals, three groups and two facilitators).

The Awards celebrate excellence in the performing arts and provide direct financial support to artists and companies across the country. In this way, the Awards and the Sidney Myer Fund are very much fundamental to the cultural life of Australia.

“The pandemic has been devastating for artists and everyone working in arts and culture in Australia. In light of that, the Sidney Myer Fund acted decisively to rethink how we present the Awards,” said Mr Myer.

Instead of Awarding the usual three annual prizes – the Group Award, the Individual Award and the Facilitator’s Prize – we elected to support eight prizes of $25,000 across the whole country, to celebrate the winners’ achievements and to recognise the role they play in affirming our country’s sense of self.”

“We know this will make a difference both to individual artists and companies and are delighted that we are able to support Australia’s cultural life at this difficult time for many,” said Mr Myer.

The 2020 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards Recipients are:

Metro Arts (Multi-Arts, Qld)
Metro Arts is developing the future of Australian contemporary arts practice, now. Championing all contemporary art forms, the two core activities of the organisation are developing and co-presenting contemporary arts. Everyday within Metro Arts’ theatre, galleries and studio spaces, there are artists taking risks, creating, developing, experimenting, and presenting ambitious contemporary art. In 2020, Metro Arts launched into a brave new chapter, relocating and opening new purpose-built premises to support artists now and well into the future.

Kylie Bracknell (Theatre, WA)
Kylie Bracknell (formerly Kylie Farmer) [Kaarljilba Kaardn] is an accomplished actress, voice-over artist, television presenter, public speaker, consultant, writer, director and producer from the Noongar region – the south west of Western Australia.Passionate about language revival, Kylie has developed innovative works completely in Noongar language, including the reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth titled Hecate (2020), performance of Shakespearean sonnets at Shakespeare’s Globe in London (2012), two re-voiced episodes of the award-winning animation series Little J & Big Cuz (2019), and most recently Fist of Fury Noongar Daa (2020-21), the first feature film to be dubbed in an Australian language. She also co-wrote the short film Main Actors (ABC, 2006) and has contributed to various publications. Kylie has coordinated and managed a variety of theatre, film and television, and radio industry programs. She was employed by Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theatre (now known as Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company) for eleven years, was stationed as Program Manager of the Media and Screen Industry Indigenous Employment Program for Screen Australia, and Program Manager of the Indigenous Department at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Kylie is currently Associate Artist at Perth Festival as a leader in their programming team.

Sally Chance (Dance, SA)
Sally Chance is a dance-theatre artist. She is motivated by the power of socially inclusive arts participation and by the joy of collaborating with specific communities, whose artistic ideas open the door to new performance forms. For the past fourteen years her work has been dedicated to the cultural lives of children aged three years and younger, including babies. In collaboration with her Adelaide-based company members – dancers Felecia Hick and Stephen Noonan and musician Heather Frahn – Sally has created five new performance works (This [Baby] Life, Nursery, Touch & Go, Seashore and Wonder) especially for the youngest of audiences, in the company of their adults. Early last year the company completed and presented a new trans-cultural work, Flower ?, with Seoul-based Theatre Masil. Sally uses dance in the field of perinatal infant mental health to support the critical first relationship between mother and baby. She trained at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London, was the founding Artistic Director of Adelaide’s Restless Dance Theatre.

Second Echo Ensemble (Dance, Tas)
Second Echo Ensemble [SEE] is a contemporary performance company based in Hobart, Tasmania. At the heart of SEE is the integrated ensemble of diverse artists who live with a range of abilities. Formed in 2005 the company has created twelve major works, toured in Australia and internationally and is a leading creative force in the development of a narrative that speaks to the rich diversity of Tasmania. In the past 2 years SEE has presented at over 14 festivals and community events, supported the development of 7 original new works, and offered over 115 community workshops. What sets SEE apart from being perceived as a ‘disability arts organisation’ is that the work is co-created with a core ensemble of people with diverse abilities. We do not provide a creative opportunity for people living with disability but rather recognise and employ them as artists living with disability alongside and as equals with their counterparts who do not identify as living with disability. SEE knocks down the barriers to participation in performance, bringing exclusions, outsiders, gaps in thinking, and gaps in storytelling into the open. We create exceptions to the rules, making work with and by exceptional people: people who defy norms, who don’t fit neatly into boxes and who challenge our expectations. We tell the stories that aren’t being heard. We make the invisible, visible. We passionately believe that everyone, everywhere, has the right to thrive, to be seen, to be heard and to be a part of our community.

Andrew Ford (Music, NSW)
Andrew Ford is a composer, writer and broadcaster who has won Awards in each of those capacities, including the 2004 Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl, a 2010 Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt’s Wife and the 2012 Albert H Maggs Prize for his large ensemble piece, Rauha. He has been composer-in-residence for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. In 2014 he was Poynter Fellow and Visiting Composer at Yale University and, in 2015, Visiting lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory. A former academic, Ford has written widely on all manner of music and published ten books, most recently The Song Remains the Same with Anni Heino (La Trobe University Press, 2019). He has written, presented and co-produced five radio series and, since 1995, presented The Music Show each weekend on ABC Radio National. In 2018, Andrew Ford was H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University.

Robin Fox (Music, Vic)
Robin Fox is an internationally recognised Melbourne based audio-visual artists working across live performance, exhibitions, public art and composition for contemporary dance. His laser works, which synchronize sound and visual electricity in hyer-amplified 3D space have been performed in over 60 cities worldwide. His work Single Origin premiered at Unsound Krakow late 2017 and has toured extensively in 2018-19 with highlights including headline shows at Berlin Atonal, Semibreve (Braga), Mutek (Montreal and Mexico), Sonica (Kings Place London) amongst others.

Sean Pardy (Theatre, NT)
Sean has been working in theatre for over 25 years. He is proud of the contribution he has made to companies in their infancy and the work he has done to support Independent Theatre makers. For the last eight years he has been at the helm of Brown’s Mart in Darwin, supporting the work of Top End Theatre makers and contributing to the vibrant Northern Territory artistic landscape. Along with Glenn Terry, Sean established Critical Stages, touring Independent Theatre artists throughout Australia and before this was the Touring Stage Manager for Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People. Sean has dappled in lighting design, lighting productions for Knock-em-Down Theatre, Sanity Productions, Darwin Theatre Company and the Darwin Festival in the NT and a swag of companies and independent makers in Sydney. Sean is passionate about creating new Australian work and helping to build sustainable and fulfilling careers for artists.

The Street Theatre (Multi-Arts, ACT)
Established in 1993, The Street is operated by The Stagemaster Inc. (trading as The Street), a not-for-profit arts organisation under an Occupancy Agreement with the ACT Government. Following the destruction by fire of two adapted theatre venues, The Street Theatre was established in 1994 by the ACT Government and so The Street began its life as a community theatre facility for Canberra’s community from students to independent and professional groups. The Season Inc. [The Season] was formed in 1996 to coordinate the marketing and administration of independently funded theatre companies presenting work at The Street Theatre. This grew into a themed season within a curated program featuring independent producers and their work. In 2002 The Season Inc. was merged with The Street (The Stagemaster Inc.) establishing a single board of management to oversee the theatre building and its programming. The Street transitioned through the merger with a venue-for-hire model fostering both community participation, the professional development of performance-makers, as well as commercial presenters. Led by acclaimed stage director Caroline Stacey, the Company employs some of the finest and much-loved creative talent in the region as well as Canberra’s creative diaspora and beyond. The Street is one artsACT’s key arts organisations and considered an essential contributor to the well-being of residents in the ACT and artistic vibrancy in the region.

Each of the winners has also created a short video to speak of their work and the importance to them and the arts industry at large of these Awards.

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. The Trustees of the Sidney Myer Foundation believe that real achievement should be recognised and rewarded. It has awarded over $4 million in the Awards’ 38 years.

The national Awards are determined by a Judging Committee that this year was constituted by: Christine Anthoney, Fraser Corfield, Shelagh Magadza, Fiona Maxwell and Brian Ritchie. The Committee is chaired by Andrew Myer, AM (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. For more information, visit: www.myerfoundation.org.au for details.

Image: Caroline Stacey, Artistic Director, The Street Theatre (supplied)