The Balnaves Award has become one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia. The calibre of entries and winners has consistently proven the depth of talent in the Indigenous theatre industry.
“We have uncovered some extraordinary talent through this award,” said Hamish Balnaves, General Manager of The Balnaves Foundation. “The Award commissioned Leah Purcell to write The Drover’s Wife which went on to win not only Best New Australian Work at the 2016 Sydney Theatre Awards, but was recognised as the finest literature produced in the country at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award in 2017, the richest writing prize in Australia. For a work commissioned by this Award to take out this prize is an extraordinary outcome.”
“Our aim with The Balnaves Award is to encourage and support Indigenous playwrights in their writing, to hear important new stories that have the potential to be developed through to on stage production. This is why we fund both the award and the production of Indigenous-led work at Belvoir.”
Actor, singer and writer Ursula Yovich (A Christmas Carol, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie) won the Award in 2016 with a commission to write a play that touches on traditions and rituals in Indigenous culture that are little known to the non-Indigenous community.
Previous winners of this award include Nakkiah Lui (Kill the Messenger) and Katie Beckett (Which Way Home). The award is open to everyone from the most experienced playwrights, to people just starting out on their first plays and any writer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent is encouraged to apply, regardless of whether or not they have written for theatre before.
Since 2011 The Balnaves Foundation has provided a total of $662,500 to support the presentation of two Indigenous-led works per year as part of Belvoir’s annual season. In order to further their commitment to the telling of Indigenous stories through theatre, the Foundation has committed $25,000 per year for three years to this annual award for an Indigenous playwright.
The Balnaves Foundation is committed to working towards reconciliation and has supported numerous Indigenous arts projects including the creative development of I Am Eora and Black Diggers for Sydney Festival and support for Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Community Nights nation-wide. The award is comprised of a $15,000 commission to write a new play with the support of Belvoir, and a $10,000 cash prize.
Entries close on Friday 7 April and the award will be presented during National Reconciliation Week: 27 May – 3 June 2017. For more information and to apply, visit: www.belvoir.com.au for details.
Image: Ursula Yovich (supplied)