#freethearts

#freethearts

Small Arts Big Impact

CONTEXT:
We as an arts community are facing severe government funding changes that will have the potential to do two things: redefine our arts practice or ‘cancel the show’. That’s why I turned up tonight as part of the panel for the #freethearts forum. How do we move forward with strength?

This is a potted selection of my notes: read them lightly. If they don’t make sense don’t worry. Just link together as many ideas as you can. I had a choice: to take time to weave it neatly and clearly, or get it out immediately. I chose the latter.

WHERE:
La Boite offered to host the meeting in the Medea set, a brilliant installation by Sarah Winter. The session, 15th June from 5.15pm was tape recorded.

Todd MacDonald welcomed us all “It is vital to meet like this…to unify and articulate”. He mentioned the gathering this Thursday in Canberra where delegates are going down to meet with government. “This is just the beginning” said Todd, “Stay in touch. It’s the first step forward”

Our moderator was Eleanor Jackson who invited the audience to be an active part of the session. She requested conversations from the audience as well as from the panel.
Below are extracts from what people shared, recorded by hand, so excuse mistakes etc.

WHY ARE WE HERE:
Eleanor talked about the meaningful change that is taking place and how there is a redirection of funding. She talked about the main questions that we would discuss. The interconnectedness of the community and the ecology of the theatre world.

Lindy Hume: AD of Opera Queensland talked about interconnectedness: “If we take a chunk out of the ecology, how can it flourish? Opera Queensland must be interconnected (indie companies and different disciplines)… Interconnectedness integral to its survival”.

Sue Donnelly GM Queensland Theatre Company: “The majors recognise the connection between people in the various levels of the artform”.

Todd MacDonald AD La Boite: “The heartland of theatre is NOT in the Majors. We have a past, a history. The pathways for artists are not necessarily just to get to the majors. Independent artists are working in their own right”.

Brian Lucas Independent artist: “It’s not a pyramid. We need to remember this in our sector. Its not about heading to the top”.

Yaron Lifschitz AD Circa: “We are an ecosystem, where there is diversity… adaptability with the capacity to remove toxins etc. The system has not been set up equally. Circa tours 1/3 of all Australian tours overseas yet it is classified as a small to medium company. 40% of companies will not be there in the next decade. Perhaps we cannot survive and prosper on merit”

David Fenton CEO Metro Arts: “Ecology: large fish eat small fish. This is just a construct. Its been constructed in a certain way. Cross Sector collaboration: keys to surviving 40 years in the desert. Metro supports artists. Independents will survive this by being clever and generous and share resources”

David Berthold AD Brisbane Festival: gave examples of work that began in the independent sector and progressed “For example “Holding the Man” going from a small theatre and finally ending up on WestEnd then into film. Quite a few films at Sydney Film Festival (2015) came out of independent companies.

Audience Member: “145 companies are affected by this. Are we looking into the 21st Century? Is equity something we want to have?

Anna Yen, Independent Artist: “We need to have diversity of stories and all sizes of stories. Community arts: who has access to the arts? Is excellence about the process? Is it the art form? We need access”

Scotia Monkivitch, Independent Artist and Advocate: “Arts participation will be affected”. “Freedom of voice” “standing up for democracy”

Margi Brown Ash, Independent Artist: “What do we do personally and politically? What can we do as a community? What do we do tonight? What do we do tomorrow?”

Kris Stewart: “What we need to understand is why these decisions are being made”. “we need to change the conversation. We need to change that song.

And my most favourite expression tonight was made by Kris when he said “We either drive this bus or get run down”

Audience Member: “We need to look at the ecology of our audiences. Not just bums on seats but types of bums. Who is coming? Whey are they coming?

Audience Member: “Begin dialogues with parties. Have dialogues with politidal process. We need to write to our ministers”.

“The Greens and Labour have pressed for an inquiry”.

Lindy Hume: “Is this the new reality? The majors can be used more strategically. Talk to the majors…collaborate…the majors have a responsibility”.

What does this excellence mean?

Audience Member: Contact local MP’s. What are we going to do about it?

Audience Member: “we have to address the questions How do we get through this? and What do we want”

Yaron: “Pursuing innovation. Investment in infrastructure. Lets use this for a far more courageous and visionary plan”.

Audience Member: “Regional Queensland needs a voice. We don’t want to be called “small to medium” It’s not about size. What do we want to say in the letter to government”?

Audience Member: “How do we move the arts forward?”
“What are the avenues to push our work and get the feedback we need?”
“We need to kill the notion of difference”

Audience Member: “2 points: we don’t know what is to happen. We do know that a strip of money $104 million has been moved. We know the funing rounds of June are cut and the 6 year plan is shelved. We need to have every poster, leaflet etc with #freethearts on it so that every Aussie can see what they are facing”

“Who gets to make the arts funding decisions? The people who are the friends of Brandis perhaps are our best friends to put Brandis in the picture”.

Sue Donnelly: “Whoever you know who has any influence, talk with them.”

Scotia Monkivitch: Check out #freethearts, #holdonarts, MEAA has a petition.
Draw up a letter.

Audience Member: What is the Australia we want to present to the world? How do we make a creative nation?

“You can’t create the future by re-staging the past”

“fewer silos”

“The value of consultation”

“Careful use of language because language defines us”

“We will progress the conversation. This is not a finished process. Just to turn up. That’s what we need to do”.

“What will come out of Thursday in Canberra? It will be recorded”.

i have created an event page called 'theatre bash'. it is a constantly changing event page, and it is a call to action for all of us to actively support our fellow artists: please contact me if you have not already been invited to the group. once in the group you can invite your mates. my aim is to grow the event page so that we have many people in those audiences...we need to grow our individual and collective presence at the theatre. this is one way. please join me. ...

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ImpulseTraining, an enlivening of the senses

Home. Friday 29th May. 2015. I’m sitting on my couch. A fire is burning. A pot of tea brews. “Turn pot seven times. Strain. Add milk. No sugar”. Cakes are cooking in the oven. I love baking. It makes me feel at home. The HOME team has been exploring home and what it means for five years now, although I have been making homes all my life. I move furniture on a weekly basis — a change of furniture is like a new house I think as I move our bedroom furniture into the lounge room (just for fun)– what it does is awaken me. I see things differently. I notice a painting I haven’t noticed in a while. I see the sunlight through the windows differently–but today I am not moving furniture. I am drinking tea and I am baking as I contemplate the upcoming few weeks.

We have just finished our first week of rehearsal, to reacquaint ourselves, and rewrite some of the script HOME. The last time I performed HOME was in July 2012 when we were part of the La Boite Independent season. HOME has been lucky, it was birthed at Metro Arts in the city, moved up the hill to La Boite and has now crossed the river to the new Studio Theatre at The Greenhouse, our QTC home. It has been developed in Chicago, Mexico, Brisbane and Perth.

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Leah Mercer, our long term collaborator, lives in Perth so we have to be very strategic regarding rehearsals. Leah came to Brisbane last week and we worked on HOME at Metro Arts, where my company 4change is Company in Residence. This is the first time we have tried to co-direct together. Usually Leah is director (Leah directed HOME at La Boite and Eve at Metro Arts) and I am writer/performer. But each time we do shows we like to shake things up a bit and learn new ways of doing things. I think it is working well, though the final week will be handed back to Leah to make the final decisions as I concentrate on my performance.

leah mercer

HOME could never have been created without the liaison between Leah and myself. We are so different, yet seem to bring out the best in each other’s work. Leah is calmer than I am, so her calmness and my enthusiasm complement each other. We question each other’s choices, we unpack conflicts and we celebrate successes. It is not always easy, with such distance between us. Invariably we struggle, yet the struggle seems to result in work that is rigorous and challenging.

Leah returns in July to rehearse for two weeks before our two week season. Bev Jensen, our visual artist has created a truly sensational set. It is made of perspex and projections and at the end of the show we invite the audience to come and wander through it, touching and appreciating the hundreds of hours that have gone into the engraving and etchings. The set is an art installation and would be equally at home in an art gallery. But we are lucky to have it in our QTC Studio for the month of July.

MARGI in the Redwood Forest

MARGI in the Redwood Forest

And i am once again working with my youngest son, Travis who returned from studying in Spain so he could participate again in HOME. It is a joy to work with him. He is such a generous actor and we have a great short hand. He has been working with me in various shows much of his life so we are used to playing on stage together. This season of HOME sees him rewrite most of his social and political monologues that he delivers throughout the show, as a counter balance to my domestic stories. I love what he has written…I think you will too.

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These next few weeks will be spent learning lines, planning our HOME workshops (come on, I dare you! Enrol in a fabulous few hours of deliciousness!) and getting ready for moving into the theatre space, alongside our other commitments. Productions are never done in a vacuum and my husband Bill will be as involved in the show as he can be, helping me remember my lines, making me green smoothies and generally nurturing me in-between his corporate meetings and working trips. As you can read between the lines, my theatre work is not a separate beast. It breathes beside my private life, enriching and counterpointing, challenging and creating cacophony at times. But always welcomed.

The HOME team has been warmly welcomed into QTC as we prepare for our audience: an assortment of teas have been tested by Deidrie and Shari, along with little cakes and biscuits. We are all excited about hosting our audiences and I am hoping that QTC’s subscribers are well aware that: “This is your show. Your time to perform if you want to–no pressure, only if it feels right.. Come and relax and be nurtured for an hour or so”. We can’t wait to welcome you, our first audience members, to drink tea with you, laugh with you and share your stories. Bring your friends. After all it is a family affair!

i have created an event page called 'theatre bash'. it is a constantly changing event page, and it is a call to action for all of us to actively support our fellow artists: please contact me if you have not already been invited to the group. once in the group you can invite your mates. my aim is to grow the event page so that we have many people in those audiences...we need to grow our individual and collective presence at the theatre. this is one way. please join me. ...

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PHOTO BY AL C. LA BOITE’s season of HOME, 2012. HOME returns at QTC July, 2015.

THURSDAY 28TH MAY IS OUR FIRST EVER FREE OPEN DAY FOR FREE COACHING AT METRO ARTS FOR OUR ARTS COMMUNITY.

As the first open day, I would love you to contact and make an appointment. As of 10am Sunday morning we have two slots left for Thursday. Please contact so I get an idea of the demand. If we need to add a day I will. These first sessions are short and to the point. We discuss what it is you are wanting, needing, dreaming, hoping. We talk about your capacity as a sustainable artist. We talk about healthy living. And we drink green tea.

I so look forward to welcoming you all.

warmest
Margi

4change coaching
company in residence
metro arts
109 edward street
brisbane 4001
third floor

i have created an event page called 'theatre bash'. it is a constantly changing event page, and it is a call to action for all of us to actively support our fellow artists: please contact me if you have not already been invited to the group. once in the group you can invite your mates. my aim is to grow the event page so that we have many people in those audiences...we need to grow our individual and collective presence at the theatre. this is one way. please join me. ...

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IMG_25434change has had a terrific beginning to May, with artists coming through the doors, aged between 15 and 70, some just wanting a conversation, others in need of a collage, a cup of green tea, a reference, a place to grow ideas.

4change has an open door policy. As Company in Residence at Metro Arts there is the opportunity to come in and chat. There needs to be an exchange of energy though, for that is the way growth works best.

If you want a conversation, then you need to bring in a metaphorical object, something that represents your provocation or dilemma. This object remains at 4change as part of an end of year exhibition of ideas from the creative community.

The next open door day is THURSDAY 28th May from 1pm. Send me a message, phone or email.

FOC/4change lives on the third floor at Metro Arts 109 Edward Street Brisbane 4000

FOC/4change lives on the third floor at Metro Arts 109 Edward Street Brisbane 4000

As the new Company in Residence at Metro Arts, FOC/4change has now settled in and we are excited about our open studio next Friday night (1.5.15) when the whole building opens up to the public.

FOC/4 will be hosting a Provocation: “What is it that artist’s need to stay healthy?” We will have some green tea, pastels and paper, conversation, music and laughter. If you are around, pop in from 5.30pm this coming Friday.

This week has been a full one with many shows opening in Brisbane. One play that I saw last Tuesday was the newly written SAMPSON a poignant piece written by Julia-Rose Lewis. I have known Juia-Rose since she was a young student at QUT and it was with enormous enthusiasm that I went along to see her show. I was not disappointed with her script: it had a rhythm that held me, thoughts that challenged me and moments of wonderful clarity.

What was difficult was the fact that I could not hear the actors for some of the time, a problem that has always haunted the actor at La Boite due to its corporate architecture and the fact that it is theatre in the round, which requires enormous skill.

I write this post to all the new directors coming through: what a glorious theatre La Boite is- the whole package- the friendly staff, the strong works, the outside bar, all adding to the evening’s experience. But there are obstacles that need to be navigated around.

Having trained in Theatre in the Round for 8 years while I was studying my Literature and Education degree in the early 70’s in Sydney, I am well aware that the ways of being on a stage with four sides is a skill in itself. The nuances of moving the body so that all four sides of the audience feel included, the tilt of the head, the ability to embody the moment and at the same time share the moment, these are skills that need to be learned. One way of making sure that actors can be heard is for the director to sit on all sides of the set throughout rehearsal: this makes for a challenge in the rehearsal room because often it is smaller than the theatre space. However it is a crucial step. I have often witnessed directors sitting in the same seat when they are directing and therefore missing the nuances required to engage the other seating banks.

Thank you Julia-Rose for your words, your painstaking years of work on a wonderful text. An important story to be heard again and again, and I for one will direct this piece one day because it speaks to the youth of the day and in so doing speaks to all the generations.

Congratulations La Boite for putting it on. New directors, inhabit all sides of the rehearsal room. That will ensure that you respect all your audience, not just the front seating bank.

Margi

i have created an event page called 'theatre bash'. it is a constantly changing event page, and it is a call to action for all of us to actively support our fellow artists: please contact me if you have not already been invited to the group. once in the group you can invite your mates. my aim is to grow the event page so that we have many people in those audiences...we need to grow our individual and collective presence at the theatre. this is one way. please join me. ...

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