The 2014 Bridge Donor Program Launch – Our CEO’s and Guardian, Ruth Krawat’s speeches

On Thursday night Theatre Works welcomed both old and new friends to Ilfornaio to launch the 2014 Bridge Donor Program. It was a great event with delicious food supplied by Ilfornaio and drinks from our extremely loyal sponsor, Vinaceous Wines.  On the night guests heard from Bryce Ives, who worked at Theatre Works in 2013 as part of the VCA/Arts Victoria Professional Pathways Program, one of our Guardian’s, Ruth Krawat, and our Creative Producer/CEO, Daniel Clarke.  It was an inspiring evening that was completed with a performance of Kate Hunter’s Memorandum.

Here is our CEO’s unedited speech, followed by Ruth Krawat’s – we thought it might inspire more people to become part of our Bridge Donor Program.

“Thank you Anne and thank you all, new and old friends, for coming tonight.

Let us take a moment to the show our respect to the traditional owners of this land – the Yalukit Wilam Clan of the Boon Wurrung. Let us pay our respect to their Elders, both past and present and acknowledge their continuing relationship to this land we meet on tonight.

I have been leading Theatre Works since 2011. It has been an extraordinary journey to be on and a very privileged position to be in – working with many of the most exciting and visionary artists from Melbourne, Australia and increasingly around the globe. Fundamentally our role is to enable independent artists to create and present bold new contemporary performance works. We aim to work with artists from the ground up on projects -from the initial idea through to presentation. When artists have presented to work with us in St Kilda we try to support them find other opportunities to present their works.

We want to help artists develop long and viable careers.

I thought I’d outline some of the ways we support artists:

  • We provide the use of our venue for artists to develop new ideas through creative development and residency opportunities
  • We commission artists to make work from scratch; providing funding towards creative fees
  • We regularly meet with artists who are seeking advice on mounting productions or career pathways
  • We assist artists to develop funding applications, budgets, marketing plans, contracts and media releases
  • We broker relationships between artists and other venues, presenters and major arts festival both in Melbourne but also nationally
  • We provide excellent technical support for artists staging work in our venue
  • We offer dramaturgical and outside eye support through the rehearsal and development process
  • We increase artists profiles through comprehensive media campaigns across all media; both mainstream and alternative; locally and nationally
  • We ensure those in the industry who can offer further opportunities to the artists we work with will see their work
  • We support artists to tour their work nationally through the provision of management and producing services
  • We raise funds for artists
  • We advocate widely on behalf of independent artists
  • We connect artists with other each other and encourage dynamic collaborations
  • We connect artists to the education sector and facilitate the attendance of schools to their productions.
  • We support the development of education resource packs and accessible workshops for school students
  • We promote the work of our artists widely and help deliver strategic marketing initiatives
  • We mentor artists and provide internship opportunities for graduates
  • We subsidise theatre rental to enable artists to present their work with reduced financial risk

As you can see we are more than just a venue – we are an organisation dedicated to our most visionary artists; both emerging and established. To those artists who have big ideas; who want to bring new stories to the stage and are rigorously exploring how they bring these stories to the stage, to you, our audience. We work with artists who are curious, passionate; artists whose voices make a vital contribution to our society, artist who are not afraid of taking risks.

I’d like to tell you about some of the significant achievements we have made over the last three years:

  • In 2013 19,840 people saw work that was supported by Theatre Works, across venue hires, presenting, producing, touring and co-production arrangements.
  • In 2013 Theatre Works artists and productions were nominated for no less than 15 Green Room Awards
  • Last year we were the only independent theatre venue to have work as part of the Melbourne Festival – and we had two of them, two local works – M+M and Room of Regret that were commissioned by Theatre Works
  • Our co-presentation of Cut Snake won Best VCE Drama Production and Best Education Resource Pack; it is now touring with Regional Arts Victoria
  • We increased paid attendance at our venue by 12% from 2012
  • We worked with Little Ones Theatre to present Psycho Beach Party at Brisbane Festival and Sisters Grimm’s Summertime in the Garden of Eden at Griffin Theatre (this production broke box office records for a Griffin independent show)
  • Fraught Outfits’ Production of Persona, which we supported in 2012 was remounted at Malthouse and toured to Belvoir Street Theatre
  • The Shift Theatre’s The Girls in Grey, which we supported in 2012, toured nationally and continues to tour.
  • Our 2011 Selected Works show, The Hayloft Theatre’s Delectable Shelter toured nationally winning a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Score or Sound Design Composition.  Marg Horwell who designed Summertime in the Garden of Eden also won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Stage and Costume Design.
  • At the end of 2013 The Guardian selected our productions of M+M and Room of Regret as two of the cultural highlights (nationally) for 2013.
  • Our production of No Child…was named in the Herald Sun for the second year in a row as one of five of the Best shows of the year.
  • Nicola Gunn’s Hello my Name is, one of our Selected Works in 2012 toured to Perth, Brisbane Festival and Adelaide and was selected to be part of the Australian Performing Arts Market
  • Our 2014 commission, Tears Before Bedtime by Yana Alana has already been picked up for further season nationally later this year
  • Our recent production of Wael Zuaiter: Unknown was named on ABC Arts as one of the highlights of the recent Next Wave Festival and our Festival of Live Art production; Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model by UK artist Bryony Kimmings was also named as the highlight of FOLA on the ABC Arts website

So if we are doing so well and kicking so many goals – why do we need the support of donors? We currently receive $140,000 per year from Arts Victoria, this year we received a one-off grant of $20,000 from the City of Port Phillip and until next year we receive $50,000 from the Australia Council towards artist fees. It costs us around $650,000 to do what we do – and that is operating with a very lean budget and a small but brilliant team of mainly part time staff. We have increased all areas of income; box office, venue rental, bar takings, philanthropic grants, fundraising and sponsorship – but we need to increase support from the community; from donors.

There are many of you here tonight who have come on board our Bridge Donor program and I am so grateful for this – do not ever underestimate the value for your support. To those of you tonight, who are new to Theatre Works, have a think about how you might be able to assist us or perhaps you know someone who can. Come along to shows, see the work, meet the artists, talk to me or members of our Board and staff – I know my inbox is currently filling with the many end of financial year requests that are coming through – but if you are in the position to make a donation this year – I’m asking you to consider making it towards the work we do. It has been an amazing journey over the last three years – and I’d love to share this journey with you over the next three.

One woman who has come on the journey with us is Ruth Krawat. It has been fantastic to get to know Ruth over the last 8 months and she is has become a real friend of mine. She is passionate, driven and open to even the most challenging theatrical productions. I value her insight and her contribution to Theatre works and love introducing her to the wonderful artists we work with.

I’d like to introduce Ruth to say a few words about why is she is a patron of the arts and why she decided to join us on our journey.

Ladies and Gentlemen – Ruth Krawat.”

Ruth Krawat’s speech:

“I experienced the benefits of being a Patron of the Arts first hand from my father many many years ago when he began supporting a handful of major Arts organisations here in Melbourne … and still does.

On the other hand, my mother was able to donate to her favourite companies in her own little way by becoming a ‘friend’, which meant she was able to go along to the dress rehearsals of the opera and ballet at discounted priced tickets, as well as support upcoming artists and students.

It goes to show that you don’t have to have lots of money to be a Patron or supporter of the Arts – it all counts.

Personally, I myself have been involved with theatre and dance companies, as well as arts festivals, for quite a few years now – initially starting as a subscriber … then becoming a Patron of a handful of these companies, including the wonderful Theatre Works only last year.

It is one thing to give a donation of money, but it is even better when you can become involved. And, that is why

I have become a Patron of Theatre Works.

I am very passionate about this company, led by the amazing Daniel Clarke. It is a local theatre for me, living only 5 mins walk away. And, I love the opportunity I have to actually meet the creative team behind many of the productions, including the cast, which may not have come about if I wasn’t a Patron.

I am extremely proud and fortunate to be involved with this wonderful company and hope that all of you here tonight will also get involved financially in one way or another – if you are not already.

To quote American entrepreneur, Brian Tracy: “Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.”

And, because of this, I am a very rich person.

Hope to see you all again at “Abundance”, our big annual fundraiser being held at the theatre on Saturday, 12th July.

Enjoy tonight and thank you x ”

If you would like to find out how you can support The Bridge Donor Program visit here

Daniel Clarke 29/05/14

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