A MESSAGE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN PLAYS BOARD


MEDIA RELEASE - 4 OCTOBER 2019
 
Our staff and board held an all day planning meeting on 14 September. Despite the fact that we are facing some real challenges, the level of commitment to and belief in the vital services we provide to Australian playwrights and their work has not faltered. We continue to receive incredibly heartening messages of thanks for the work we do.
 
We have to consider a range of scenarios for 2020 and beyond. These range from continuation of our current model (which would require significant new and confirmed resources/investment) to an orderly and well-considered wind-up of our operations. We have submitted an application to the Australia Council for the Arts for 2021 but this is for less than 50% of our current funding from them. We have commenced discussions with potential new partners and with philanthropists and foundations.
 
We were really delighted that Arts Tasmania confirmed funding for 2020. Support from Arts Tasmania is a vital part of the framework that supports our mainly Hobart based operations. Although we are firmly a national organisation we have always had a priority focus on Tasmania, partly because of our history and location but also that the skills of our team make a valuable contribution to the local theatre ecology. In fact, our Literary Manager is currently on the island working with Blue Cow Theatre and ATYP on their Future Proof project.
 
This is still a very uncertain time for Australian playwrights and their work. We look forward to further discussions with the Australia Council for the Arts once they have been able to consider the recommendations of the review commissioned by Playwriting Australia, being conducted by REÄ‚ Consulting. The Australian Writers Guild (AWG) provided an alternative submission process for that consultation that had a question related to us. AWG told us this week ‘every comment about Australian Plays was favourable. Not one comment was negative. Your service is greatly valued’.
 
We know that playwrights are our greatest advocates, but in the messages of support and concern we have also been thinking about the impact we make on producers and directors. As Queensland Theatre's Artistic Director Sam Strong said on Twitter ‘the potential loss of this organisation would be a terrible blow to playwrights…publishing scripts is a vital part of a healthy new writing culture, extending the reach and lives of works and connecting a lonely artform to a community’. And Joanne Kee, Executive Producer of Riverside's National Theatre of Parramatta said recently to our board member, playwright Hilary Bell 'producers really depend on Australian Plays. I can’t imagine the chaos if everyone has to track down playwrights individually’.
 
The next three months will be critical for us. Please keep letting decision makers know how much Australian Plays is valued and needed. Keep visiting our website, buy a play, watch an interview or consider producing an Australian play.

 


Paul Dwyer
Australian Plays' Chair 

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You might want to consider sharing your concerns about maintaining support services for Australian playwriting with the CEO and Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts or with the Minister for the Arts.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts - Hon Paul Fletcher MP Paul.Fletcher.MP@aph.gov.au

CEO, Australia Council for the Arts - Adrian Collette, AM:  a.collette@australiacouncil.gov.au

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MEDIA COVErAGE

Thank you to ABC Hobart, ABC Sydney, ABC Radio National, Arts Hub, Eureka Street, 7-ON, Daily Review and The Monthly for the following coverage: 

 

OCTOBER 2019 - THE MONTHLY

Alison Croggon’s important article on the state of Australia arts and culture - The desertification of Australian culture - looks at a range of urgent issues including the huge stresses on individual artists and the challenges that many small to medium arts organisations are facing -

‘Australian Plays, on the other hand, says it is now engaged in a battle for survival. AP was blindsided by its rejection for four-year Australia Council funding, and for good reason: it had done everything right to establish itself as an essential service organisation for playwrights, attracting thousands of readers, theatre-makers, producers and educators nationally and internationally.’ - Alison Croggon

 

7 SEPTEMBER 2019 - 7ON

An open letter from 7-ON PLAYWRIGHTS to Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts and to Adrian Collette, CEO Australia Council for the Arts can be read here.

 

6 SEPTEMBER 2019 - Daily Review

Daily Review article by Joanna Murray-Smith: Australia Council's Demotion of Plays and Playwrights

'Australian Plays support the earnings of playwrights and the dreams of small theatre makers to invigorate our towns and cities with the Australian imagination.' - Joanna Murray-Smith

 

3 SEPTEMBER 2019 - ABC Radio National

Michael Cathcart interviewed Australian Plays' Chair Paul Dwyer on Radio National's Stage Show 3 on September 2019 The Stage Show - ABC Radio National

 

22 AUGUST 2019 - ABC Sydney

Simon Marnie from ABC Sydney interviewed Australian Plays’ Chair Dr Paul Dwyer and board member/playwright Hilary Bell on 24 August 2019 Saturday Breakfast (interview starts at 1:14).

 

22 AUGUST 2019 - ABC Hobart

John Xintavelonis from ABC Radio Hobart interviewed playwright Tom Holloway and Australian Plays' Executive Director, Carin Mistry on 22 August 2019. 

  

 

21 AUGUST 2019 - Currency Press

We would like to thank our publishing partners, Currency Press for this powerful press release issued on 21 August, 2019: Defunding Playwriting Australia and Australian Plays threatens the entire eco-system of Australian theatre.

 

21 AUGUST 2019  - Arts Hub

Arts Hub article by Alison Croggon : Writers hit back at funding cuts

 

20 AUGUST 2019  - Eureka Street

Eureka Street article by Esther Anatolitis : Restoring Australia's cultural ambition

 

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A message from the Australian Plays' Board

MEDIA RELEASE - 21 August 2019

The board and staff of Australian Plays have been deeply touched and heartened by the torrent of messages we have received from our community in response to the message below which went out on the 16th of August. It has been so important in underlining for us that our services are valued and the work we do supporting Australian playwrights and their work is not only extremely important for them but also for theatre more broadly.

Some of you have made suggestions about potential ways forward and we want to reassure you that these will be collated and shared with our board and staff to consider in upcoming planning sessions. We are engaged in a battle for survival and we are open to considering a myriad of options to ensure that our services are not lost. We have a strong foundation to build on and we look forward to having open and constructive discussions with our current major funders and our partners about a viable future for our organisation. However our extremely experienced board and staff are not naïve and we know that it will be challenging to replace the core organisational funding we have received from the Australia Council for the Arts. We have really valued that investment and, we think, put it to great use so that year on year we sell more plays and subscriptions and license more productions of Australian work with this in turn directly benefitting playwrights in Australia.

It’s been great to hear from so many of you whether that has been in the public domain via social media or personally. You might want to consider also sharing your concerns about maintaining support services for Australian playwriting with the CEO and Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts or with the Minister for the Arts.

 

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts - Hon Paul Fletcher MP Paul.Fletcher.MP@aph.gov.au

CEO, Australia Council for the Arts - Adrian Collette, AM:  a.collette@australiacouncil.gov.au

 

We were really pleased that ABC Hobart reached out to interview our chair Dr Paul Dwyer earlier this week. You can listen here.

The most important thing you can do at the moment is to keep visiting our web site, buy a play, take out a subscription, read one of our essays, view one of our great interviews, explore one of our Collections. If you find something you like and value please share it on social media - please don't forget to tag us!  

 

We really do value your support. 

The Australian Plays Board

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A devastating blow for Australian playwrights


 

MEDIA RELEASE – 16 AUGUST 2019

 

Australia’s leading digital publisher and promoter of theatrical texts, Australian Plays, has been advised that it will no longer receive critical organisational funding from the federal government through its funding body, the Australia Council for the Arts from 2021. This loss of funding places the organisation’s viability in jeopardy and directly threatens the livelihood of the nation’s playwrights –   the most celebrated as well as the most exciting new and emerging talent.

Australian Plays is recognised as the definitive digital home of Australian playwriting, attracting thousands of readers, theatre-makers, producers and educators nationally and internationally. In just the last three years, thanks to Australian Plays, over 300 new plays have been published, 50,000 scripts read online, more than 25,000 scripts purchased, almost 300 production licences issued, and royalties paid to over 800 playwrights. As a not-for-profit organisation, every dollar earned has been directed towards sustaining the careers of the playwrights whose creativity fuels the most vital stories on our nation’s stages.

Leading playwright and Australian Plays patron David Williamson said today “I know all Australian playwrights value the essential work of this small but highly effective organisation. They publish and promote their work across the professional, community and education sectors nationally and internationally. The loss of this organisation would be a major blow for Australian playwrights and their work”. These concerns were echoed by leading playwright Jane Harrison author of Stolen and Rainbow’s End“Australian Plays is so important for ensuring that work which is essentially ephemeral continues to have a lasting impact. I really value their publishing of works by diverse and important voices across Australia and their website is a trove of information for anyone interested in Australian theatre. These are our Shakespeares and our Tennessee Williams. These are our voices”.

Other theatre professionals are equally concerned. Lee Lewis, Artistic Director of Griffin Theatre Company, where many classic Australian works have had their first production, stated: “Australian Plays has provided central services for Australian new writing for over 40 years from its base in Hobart. The way they now deliver services digitally means they have the most amazing local, regional, national and international reach and impact. If an Australian play is one of the thousands on their website then it’s so much more likely to be studied, researched, produced or remounted”.

Of the 412 companies that sought organisational funding from the Australia Council, a mere 39% have been invited to progress to the second stage of the assessment process. “It’s the playwrights we serve that I’m worried about. We will listen carefully to their concerns and keep them updated about our discussions with other key stakeholders and our many partners” said Paul Dwyer, Chair of Australian Plays. “We’ll maintain all of our core services in the short-term, and look at alternative structures, but there are no guarantees we’ll still be around when our current Australia Council funding agreement expires at the end of 2020.”

 

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

Dr Paul Dwyer, Australian Plays Chair

+61 3 6223 4675

admin@australianplays.org

https://australianplays.org/about/about-us