ASSITEJ* Network Sector Bulletin – June 2020

We acknowledge that we in Australia and the performing arts industry have much to do and learn in committing to racial justice. We stand in solidarity with communities who are the survivors of racism, and more specifically First Nations people of this country.


Dear ASSITEJ Network Colleagues,

As we begin to go back out into our suburbs, our towns and our cities we must also consider how to stay safe as we re-open our theatres and re-start our activities. There is upheaval and change everywhere we look. We hold hope, along with many colleagues, friends and family that we can learn and act in a difficult time to ensure a fairer future for all people across Australia.

Keep reading for news on our brand new ASSITEJ Advisory Group, exciting developments in ‘home delivery’ projects, and insights into ASSITEJ International news and Coffee Sessions from Sue Giles.

Cheers,
Tessa Leong (with Nicole, Simone, Rani, Yuhui and Jamie)
Theatre Network Australia


FROM TNA

[TNA is the Australian National Centre for ASSITEJ. We support Sue Giles in her role as Australian Representative and Vice President of ASSITEJ global, and we work in collaboration with Sue and the wider sector on key advocacy priorities and activities.]

Stay in touch with us at TNA
We at TNA continue to work from home but are looking at safe ways to return to the office and maybe even have a reunion picnic together! The best way to contact us is still via email.

First ASSITEJ Advisory Group Announced
Thanks to all who applied to the ASSITEJ Advisory Group and for your patience as we got our thoughts and the EOIs back on track.

We are very pleased to announce the first ASSITEJ Advisory Group:
Sarah Parsons, Outback Theatre for Young People and Amanda Wright, Australian Theatre for Young People in NSW;
Helen Hristofski, Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Jay Emmanuel, Independent in WA;
Luke Rogers, Canberra Youth Theatre ACT;
Christian Leavesley, Arena Theatre Company, Romi Kupfer, Independent and Tariro Mavondo, Western Edge Youth Arts in VIC;
Susannah Sweeney, DreamBig Festival and Rhen Soggee, ActNow Theatre in SA;
Robert Kronk, Flipside Youth Circus in QLD; and
Kyle Walmsley, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts in NT.

We are thrilled to have representation from both Theatre for Young Audiences and Youth Arts, as well as people from many places across the country, enabling broader connection with and advocacy for our sector.

This Is How We Do It Survey Coming Soon
TNA’s survey to gain insight into the lives and careers of independent artists is in its final design stage. We’ll soon be looking for independents to fill in the survey to add to longitudinal research commenced in 2017. Keep your eyes peeled and forward it to all the indie artists you know so we can bring you the latest on independent arts practice in Australia.

Round 2 of the VIPI Mentorship Program – Indie Producers of TYA work and youth arts welcome!
The VIPI Producers Mentorship Program suits people who already have some producing experience in the performing arts and want to be part of a group learning environment to explore new models of independent producing. For more information go to the Producers Mentorship Program page.

TNA’s excited by new practice
With a boom in online delivery across the sector, we’ve been inspired by the way new practices are emerging with a ‘home delivery’ approach. From youth arts classes and workshops to scratch nights, there are also works waiting to premiere in your own lounge room! Threshold Theatre’s Mountain Goat Mountain and Western Australian Youth Theatre Company’s The Loungeroom Project are worth checking out. Let us know if you’re up to anything new in this expanding area of practice.


FROM SUE GILES, AUSTRALIAN REPRESENTATIVE and ASSITEJ INTERNATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT 

What an extraordinary time for us all. We are working through this moment in time to make the case to increase investment and commitment to a vital sector of performance for young audiences and youth arts – necessary for the recovery, resilience and imaginative future for young people in Australia.

ASSITEJ International Special Meeting
More than 80 member countries attended an extraordinary online meeting, with live translation in 3 languages, held in place of the World Congress due to be held in Tokyo in May. The members voted on an extension of the current Executive Committee until the end of March 2021 when the Congress will be held in Japan. We also voted on the next two ASSITEJ artistic gatherings: Sweden in 2022 and Serbia in 2023.

ASSITEJ “Regional Coffee Sessions”
As part of the online Congress we held regional conversations around the world via Zoom, connecting with specific geographical regions to find out how people were faring in this difficult time and to see what advocacy action was underway. The enthusiasm for future connection and conversation was extremely encouraging. We had 1147 registered participants in the coffee sessions and 33,554 views of the live stream.

International panels 
Over the past few months, I have sat on multiple virtual panels, discussing the impacts of the pandemic, virtual presentation and online engagement. I-Entertainment (India) and The Little Art (Pakistan) ran a three-day forum, including speakers from around the world. Catch up here.

TYA USA ran a webinar on virtual presentation and engagement with Australian artists Gemma Pepper, Luke Kerridge, Andy Packer and myself, which you can watch here.

And finally, I spoke to Ellie Griffiths during the on-line version of Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. Watch it here.

Seeking artists with inclusive, participatory practice for young audiences in Australia
Francis Italiano and Michelle Hovane of Sensorium Theatre in WA, Inclusivity Country Champions for ASSITEJ network IIAN (International Inclusive Arts Network), are looking for other artists and companies working in inclusive, participatory work for young audiences. Get in touch with them here  to see how you can become part of this international network.

– Sue Giles


ADVOCACY AND ACTION

TNA Submission to the Select Committee Inquiry
TNA has submitted a response to the Select Committee Inquiry into the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the summary here.

Small Size Survey Result
Small Size Network, an international association with the aim to widen the performing arts for early years, conducted a survey on the COVID-19 Impact and protocols affecting theatre for early years. Read the report here.

ATYP, Barking Gecko, Polyglot, Shopfront and St Martins Unite
A fall-out of declining funding to the Australia Council for the Arts, five Theatre for Young Audiences /Youth Arts companies were unsuccessful in receiving ongoing four-year funding. As a way to bring the state of this sector firmly into focus, executives from the five companies have been meeting to discuss the status of the sector and its strength into the future. The group have met with Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher’s Advisor and with leadership at the Australia Council, to call for a policy focus on youth arts and young audiences.

Results from Corrugated Iron, Jopuka, Marian Street and ATYP Survey
Collection of data for a survey circulated to gain information about the impact of COVID-19 on youth arts has now closed, and the results have been collated. Read the Youth Arts Sector Impact Statement here. Please help to support our sector by promoting this statement.

Seeking Stories From Audiences
To complement research and statistics available to those advocating for youth arts, Jennifer Andersen is collecting stories about children’s diverse lived experience of the arts. Fill it in here, pass the survey link on to other adults or children (especially those who are not professional artists or arts managers) and feel free to draw on the collection in your own advocacy for youth arts. The material will be made publicly available here. For more information contact Jennifer Andersen.

Youth Arts Petition
ATYP is circulating a petition on youth arts which they plan to send to Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher. Please share widely and add your name here.


OPPORTUNITIES

29th June: The Story Factory Seeking Storytellers NSW
Casual and full-time storyteller positions are open for applications until 29th June. Click here for more information.

4th July: New Writing Commission at Jopuka
This commission offers a successful playwright or writing team $5,000 to develop a 70-90 minute script to be performed by young people aged 11 – 16. It will be staged in The Red Tree Theatre in 2021 as part of Jopuka’s 5th Birthday Season in partnership with The Elderlsee Foundation. Find more details on Jopuka’s website.

11th and 18th July: Free Open Days in the NT
Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre has free open days coming up. Join the team at Palmerston Rec Centre on Saturday 11th July or at Nightcliff Community Centre on Saturday 18th July. Contact them for more details.

15th July: General Manager Role at Sensorium Theatre WA
A juicy role in a dynamic arts organisation on a bright trajectory. Sensorium Theatre – Australia’s premiere theatre company making work for young audiences with disabilities – is looking for a lateral-thinking, progressive General Manager to skilfully guide our maturing company to the next level of success. Read more about the position here.


*The acronym ASSITEJ comes from the original French:
Association Internationale de Theatre pour les Enfants et le Jeunesse
.