Overcoming adversity at ATYP

As we brace for the most extraordinary April in a lifetime, it’s becoming clear the mantra for this month is: Are you okay? It’s hard to comprehend the speed with which our world has changed. At times like this my father used to look me in the eye, pause… and with a flicker of a smile, say:

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs … it probably means you haven’t got a firm grasp of the situation.”

We’re keeping our heads, though each day poses challenges that make it very difficult to maintain a firm grasp of the situation. If adversity is the mother of invention, COVID-19 is its loud, overbearing and very opinionated other parent. We, like so many others, have been re-inventing our programs at lightning pace. While we can’t say the pain is behind us, once we let go of what we were hoping to do at this time in 2020, we’ve been able to embrace the challenge of deciding what can be created to take its place. And as always, it’s in the act of creation that our team has come alive. 

ATYP is online! 

  • In the past two weeks over 976 teachers and students have signed up to ATYP On Demand, our one of a kind free online drama education platform;
  • CUSP by Mary Anne Butler, the beautiful production closed by restrictions due to the virus, after just five performances and as many standing ovations, has been filmed and will be offered free to audiences for three weeks on our website before moving to ATYP On Demand;
  • Our Term 2 weekly drama workshops have been reimagined as interactive online workshops – ATYP Online – connecting you with a leading Australian artist;
  • Fresh Ink national playwright mentoring is up and running and we are establishing a series of weekly live-streamed writing masterclasses involving the country’s most respected playwrights that will be open to anyone that would like to participate;
  • The exceptional actors and directors that deliver our school holiday programs are sharing their skills on video, creating activities, resources, and insights for young people, parents, teachers, and theatre-makers around the country. 

So as we meet and overcome the challenges of operating in COVID-19, we have been presented another challenge.

ATYP has just been informed that we are amongst 56 companies that, as of 2022, will no longer receive operational funding from the Australia Council. In our 59th year, at the time the national youth theatre finally moves into purpose-built premises alongside fellow flagship companies Bell Shakespeare, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Theatre … the Australia Council will withdraw its support from ATYP. It’s an incomprehensible decision. 

And it’s not just us. Five companies that specialise in creating theatre for or with young people have been cut from the Australia Council’s program. In 2007 there were 21 youth performing arts companies that received operational funding from the Federal Government. Soon there will be three. And the national youth theatre company is not one of them. 

So at this time, as we check in with one another and ask: Are you okay? ATYP asks for the support of our community. From the companies we partner, the venues that program our work, the schools that rely on our plays and participate in our programs, artists, alumni and the more than one million Australians that are currently or have been involved in our programs over the last 57 years. If you want to check in with us, we would love your support. Email me at [email protected] if you would like to get involved.

We hope you and your loved ones are okay.