TNA has identified nine key priorities for the sector, and takes a leadership role in addressing and actioning them.
TNA is delighted to be guided by Board Members Ben Gratez and Erica McCalman, as we begin work on a RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) and as we support Blakfulla Performing Arts Alliance and Blakdance.
TNA provides this organisational support through mentoring, financial investment, and collaborating on advocacy messaging.
TNA believes that our stages, our offices, and our leaders should reflect the make up of the Australian community – one that is diverse and includes First Nations peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse people, women, young people, old people, and people with a disability.
Theatre Network Australia advocates for companies to report on leadership diversity and collects our own demographics data as part of usual operations (eg. membership, events, research). We carefully consider diversity when identifying potential speakers, board members, and staff.
TNA advocates for changes that make the touring system fairer for artists and producers, covering a wide range touring and presentation contexts in which artists work – at Markets and Showcases, in Festivals, and on Tour.
Theatre Network Australia works to ensure that the increasingly vibrant and independent work that is being presented in venues and festivals across Australia is properly supported.
A key avenue for progressing such change is through partnerships with PAC Australia, VAPAC, and with Regional Arts Peak Bodies.
In 2017, Showbroker in Adelaide introduced a Go Pitch funding pool for producers successful in attaining a pitch at this inaugural national marketplace.
In 2016, APACA Conference Keynote Speaker, John Knell (UK) gave a platform for the issue of unfair arrangements for artists in his presentation, and encouraged further discussion.
2016 also saw continued Go Pitch funding offered by Creative Victoria for Showcase Vic, and secured by Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) from state agencies.
In 2015 a Go Pitch fund was introduced by Creative Victoria, running for Showcase Vic in 2015. The fund provided a small bursary to offset the costs of travel to and pitching work at the Showcase event.
In 2015 the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA) also secured some funding from state arts funding agencies to support the travel costs of artists and companies who had been selected to pitch work.
Priority one (selection mechanisms) of the Action Plan, was the focus of the work of PATA in 2014-2017. This included the shift of governance of Long Paddock to PATA; and supporting a more relationship-based Performing Arts Exchange (PAX run by APACA), and running an Expression of Interest process that endorsed a new market for tour ready work – Show Broker in Adelaide (27 Feb to 1 March, 2017).
In 2014, at Showcase Victoria, TNA Director Nicole Beyer proposed a new strategy and focus, under the banner of a GO PITCH strategy, to encourage and support new independent work onto more stages nationally.
TNA recommend that elements of the strategy could include:
– Independent producers and artists who are pitching work are given free registration for the event, in recognition that they have no core funding to cover such costs.
– A ‘Go Pitch’ fund (similar to the ‘Go See’ fund for presenters), as currently the economic model does not provide incentives or support for unsalaried artists to present (or travel).
– A re-orienting of the showcasing models, to include the aim of getting new companies in the mix.
– More resources and professional development for new producers eg. the Victorian annual touring forum rolled out nationally.
– Support for presenters to attend in-situ festivals and premier seasons of work. Not just the Go See fund, which is underutilised, but facilitation of it, perhaps a brokering system.
In 2013, an action plan for the sector was developed at a national forum, with the aim of “fostering a more dynamic, sustainable and diverse touring environment that actively engages audiences.”
Five priorities came out of the forum:
1. Selection mechanisms
2. Communities and audiences
3. Policy, planning and professional development
5. Finance and evaluation
TNV’s Director, Nicole Beyer, became a Councillor on PATA in 2013.
The Performing Arts Touring Alliance (PATA) has emerged through the cooperation of a number of key stakeholders in the touring sector, working together to for a stronger national performing arts touring sector.
In April 2009, a governing council was established consisting of three representatives from each of the identified touring sub-sectors (producers, presenters, tour coordinators) as well as an observer from each of these groups. An independent Chair was appointed and the project is managed by an Executive Officer.
Despite the research, evidence, and initiatives that have been undertaken, gender equity remains as an ongoing challenge across all performing art-forms.
TNA also believes that the lack of gender equity in the performing arts is one of the reasons the sector has faced challenges in creating Safe Theatres/Workplaces.
Through our free monthly e-news TNA is proud to give profile to these rare opportunities, as well as supporting others’ work in this area – such as AWDA (Australian Women Directors Alliance), an outcome of the 2009 Australia Theatre Forum.
Initiated by Emma Valente, Lighting/Video Designer and Co-Artistic Director of independent theatre company, THE RABBLE, compiling this list was a response to the significant gender inequity within the technical designs in the live performance sector.
TNA is very aware that in some regards Circus and Physical Theatre (CaPT) needs dedicated, discrete advocacy and promotion, and that in other areas it will benefit from enhanced collaboration and exchange with other parts of the performing arts.
As with all successful programs of cultural change, multiple initiatives will be required over the coming years, from strong and appropriate legislative frameworks; to a comprehensive, transparent and effectively utilised backbone of policy and procedure; to peer-to-peer campaigns that promote respect, inclusivity and responsibility and make these the accepted norms amongst theatre workers.
Theatre Network Australia has been specifically working on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Bullying on behalf of the performing arts sector since late 2017, sharing information and representing the small to medium and independent sectors.
At the request of the Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, Creative Victoria has convened an industry working group to explore ways to address these issues within the creative industries in Victoria, and to promote and advance cultural change.
Nicole Beyer, Executive Director, of Theatre Network Australia is part of this working group along with:
- Dave Giles-Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Fashion Council
- Caroline Pitcher, Chief Executive Officer, Film Victoria
- Anthony Reed, Chief Executive Officer, Games Developers’ Association of Australia
- Claire Spencer, Chief Executive Officer, Arts Centre Melbourne
- Catryn Tuckwell, General Counsel, Arts Centre Melbourne
Following the inaugural Safe Theatres Forum that took place on the 18th and 19th of March 2018 on Wurundjeri land in Melbourne, 47 people from across the theatre sector released a joint communique.
At the Inaugural Safe Theatres Forum (in March 2018), TNA committed to undertake 10 actions:
1. Information and Communications to the sector using our existing resource library and databases.
2. Support and collaboration with Safe Theatres Australia.
3. Facilitate ongoing conversations with sub-sectors including Circus and Physical Theatre, Dance, Youth Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences.
4. Advocate for a sector wide Employee Assistance Program for those small to medium companies and independent artists without capacity to manage or access their own.
5. Advocacy around easing the burden of reporting for small organisations and project based collectives.
6. Work with other partners on Best Practice toolkits, guides and resources.
7. Assist other partners with one-pagers and summaries of other codes and guides, in particular of the Live Performance Australia Code when it is final.
8. Run or assist other partners with running face-to-face forums, especially for small to medium companies and indies – explaining the industry standard, discussing ways that smaller companies and indies can comply. (Meetings planned to date for Victoria, Hobart and Darwin).
9. Organise peer to peer meetings for dialogue on issues specific to sub-sectors. Also act as a broker between resources provided by agencies and major companies for the small to medium and independent sectors.
10. Feedback input to LPA on draft Code and work with LPA to promote and distribute Code. (The forum agreed to adopt the final LPA Code as the industry code.)
TNA will also assist with following-up actions and implementation status of partners and update regularly as needed in partnership with Safe Theatres Australia; and consult the group/sector in one year to schedule a reconvening.
There are 28 designated major performing arts organisations in Australia, ten of them theatre, contemporary dance or circus; and an estimated 300 small to medium performing arts companies. There are thousands of project-based independents, ad hoc collectives, and unincorporated groups consistently making full-time, professional performing arts work. There are also hundreds of presenters, festivals, service and industry development organisations.
TNA is focused on the relationships between these players who are regularly collaborating, making and touring work.
Specifically TNA is advocating to repair funding cuts to the Australia Council grants programs.
This priority is focused on building stronger connections between different art-form genres, across state boundaries and throughout regions.
It including partnerships, specific initiatives, and network opportunities.
Working towards stronger youth theatre and theatre for young audiences sectors across all art-forms.
(If you are interested, the acronym ASSITEJ comes from the original French: Association Internationale de Theatre pour les Enfants et le Jeunesse. It is a consistent problem that no one knows what the acronym means or how to say it! In Africa they call it ASSI-wha-wha?).