Welcome to July at ATYP.
As the winter chill sets in ATYP and our writing community are coming to terms with the announcement last week that the Board of Playwriting Australia, the peak body for playwrights, are running up the white flag and shutting their doors. It’s a sad reflection of the precarious nature of our nation’s theatre industry and a devastating blow to playwrights around the country.
As one of Australia’s largest investors in playwriting ATYP knows only too well the difficulty of raising funds to commission new plays and the programs that nurture and support the artists who craft them. Across the country our small-to-medium companies and service organisations fly perilously close to the edge of sustainability. When we view ATYP’s commitment to writing through the cold lens of financial return and long-term viability any realist would likely conclude its unsustainable. But for the Australian theatre industry to evolve and flourish we must invest in new Australian stories and the artists who create them. If we are to attract new generations of audiences and artists we must be crafting plays and performances that speak to their lives, their experiences and the world we currently live in. We don’t invest in new writing for financial gain. We invest in it because it fundamentally contributes to our national identity.
Playwriting Australia has been pivotal in championing new work and diverse stories. Without an independent organisation fighting for the rights of playwrights, celebrating their achievements and drawing our companies and producers together, I fear the future for all playwrights gets even more difficult. The implosion of PWA is a stark reminder that vital organisations holding the most significant space in our industry can falter and fall away within moments and should never be taken for granted. These organisations are frequently held together by little more than willpower; a belief that the struggle for survival is worth having because the outcome of our efforts and achievements will impact the cultural fabric of the country now and in the future. The closure of an organisation like PWA has implications for our whole industry.
The PWA announcement has come at a time when ATYP is focussed on a number of playwriting programs. Thanks to the success of ATYP’s annual program, the National Studio, we have been approached by Carclew and Country Arts SA to establish a studio specifically for regional artists called Writing Place. If you are a writer or theatre maker based outside our capital cities, this is an opportunity to hone your craft, connect with a network of artists across the country and generate a short work that will be performed by schools for years to come.
This week also sees the close of applications for The Martin-Lysicrates Prize. This unique commission of $15,000 for plays targeted at audiences aged 11-14 is open to new and established writers. While the closing date for both opportunities is today (Monday) we would hate to see writers who are just learning about these programs miss out. If you want to submit but need a few extra days email us ASAP to let us know your application is on its way and we’ll do our best to have you included. We have also commenced the selection process for the 2019 National Studio along with the junior and senior Foundation Commissions so writers who have submitted proposals will hear from us soon.
Putting writing and the wider industry aside, things continue at ATYP. Winter Holidays are just around the corner. Once again ATYP is offering a range of heartwarming workshops for young people aged 4-18. Workshops do sell out so get online to secure your place. Or for those looking further ahead the weekly drama classes for Term 3 are also taking enrolments. And finally, this month see’s rehearsals for Bathory Begins getting underway in Penrith. We’re excited to be performing at The Joan so book your tickets soon.
Until next month,