in the loop – june 28

realtime news and advance word

Robbie O'Brien, Tom McCosker, Room 328

Robbie O’Brien, Tom McCosker, Room 328

Robbie O’Brien, Tom McCosker, Room 328

room 328: drunk performance

Director and producer duo Daniel Santangeli and Genevieve Trace and an ensemble of physical theatre and circus trained performers “not afraid to touch their audience” premiere Room 328 at Brisbane’s Metro Arts July 6-10. The show is “a response to current social rhetoric around alcohol-fuelled violence and Brisbane’s stringent drinking laws (lockout included)…We wanted to put the audience into the centre of this experience. When you walk into this show, it’s like entering a nightclub. You don’t sit down, you are surrounded by performers and sometimes you can’t even see your hand held out in front of you.” The production’s focus is “on the male experience of the issue…the type of lost men who throw the first punch, wear ties and take pills”, but the artists promise the picture won’t be one-dimensional. (Is young female drunken violence then a different phenomenon, perhaps one deserving its own show?) Choreography will be by Liesel Zinc, music by bass guitarist and keyboard player Mike Willmett from local indie band My Fiction and setting by local interior designer Elise Terranova. Among the seven performers is Skye Gellman of Scattered Tacks (see article) fame. Director Daniel Sanatangeli’s track record includes the immersive DJ While You Sleep (created with Lawrence English and Joel Stern). There’ll be no sleeping in Room 328, unless you pass out. Room 328, The Galleries, Metro Arts, Brisbane, July 6-10, www.metroarts.com.au

under milkwood: virtually real

Dylan Thomas’ radio classic, Under Milkwood (I grew up on the recording featuring Richard Burton as the ‘first voice’ and read the role in a high school stage production), is a headily poetic rendering of the eccentricities, sadnesses and sins (the sexual ones were excised from our school production) of a small Welsh community. In whatever format, on air, filmed (1972 with Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter O’Toole et al) or staged it’s a work ultimately for listening, a reverie devoid of conventional dramatics, taking us deep into the dreams of the inhabitants of Llareggub (‘bugger all’ backwards). As a stage work, Under Milkwood has had a limited career. But perhaps a new version with one performer manifesting all the roles in real and virtual formats might well capture the work’s sense of free-floating interiority. Filmmaker Vanessa Hughes is directing and has created the media world (with some intriguing visual collaging) that performer and co-creator Zoe Norton Lodge will inhabit as some 64 characters (half of whom are substantial). It’s a bold approach with fascinating potential “to begin (again) at the beginning.” Bambina Borracha Productions, Under Milkwood, Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney, July 1-18, bookings 02 9550 3666

increased funding for nsw arts

NSW Arts Minister Virginia Judge has announced, “An extra $3.5 million will support additional performing arts tours, new works and foster further development in the small-to-medium arts sector” (Press Release, Budget 2010-11, June 8). Coming so soon after Judge’s consultative meeting with the small to medium performing arts sector (as reported in “Talking with the Minister“) this was very welcome news.

There’s also $1m (of $4.5 million over four years) “towards the acquisition of Pier 2/3—the last undeveloped wharf in the performing arts precinct of Walsh Bay.” Let’s hope, and lobby, that this vast wharf not be subdivided into conventional theatre and gallery spaces or controlled by neighbouring major performing arts companies but kept flexible for experimental ventures, festivals and biennales.

There’s also $1.5 million in recurrent funding for CarriageWorks at Eveleigh, “cementing its place as the hub of the State’s small-to-medium contemporary creative sector”, but presumably no increase to allow the venue (or its principal resident, Performance Space) to become a serious producer rather than a venue for hire. Without such an investment how will CarriageWorks ever grow?

Other organisations have benefited substantially. There’s “a total investment of $13 million in the $53 million redevelopment of the Museum of Contemporary Art, $2.91 million over three years for the Sydney Film Festival, a total investment of $2 million through to 2014 for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and $1.75 million a year through to 2014 for Sydney Festival First Night.” And Judge announced at the Biennale of Sydney launch a substantial funding hike for that event too.

Whatever questions are raised by the arts budget, including just how the small to medium sector funding will be allocated, it’s encouraging to see Minister Judge continuing to be responsive to the needs of NSW artists.

parramatta: creative city

Funding from the 2010-11 NSW arts budget “to develop creative enterprise hubs within the Parramatta CBD” has boosted this western Sydney centre’s ambition to be “a creative city.” Parramatta City Council Lord Mayor Paul Garrard said the project, “jointly funded by Council and the NSW Government, will profile Parramatta as a leader in the creative industries by transforming disused commercial premises into innovative spaces for artists and other creative practitioners to create, exhibit and sell their work” (Press Release, June 16). This funding will add further low cost artist spaces to the existing Parramatta Artists Studio and Connect Studios.

cairns cultural precinct

As a result of strong campaigning from Cairns Regional Council, the Cairns Arts and Cultural Sector (including Arts Nexus), and the wider Cairns community, the Queensland government has announced an initial investment of $42.5m for a cultural precinct for this far north Queensland city. The facility will include a performing arts centre (with a main auditorium of 1,000 tiered seats, a flat floor, flexible performance space with 300 to 350 retractable seats and a rehearsal facility that can accommodate up to 100 seats), a museum and a public plaza for open-air performances large scale and intimate. The centre’s performance space design “is influenced by western and Indigenous culture, combining the concepts of the amphitheatre and the Bora Ring. These concepts are evident in the unique functionality of the Centre, including fully retractable walls, which take advantage of the outlook across Trinity Inlet and allows for an open air performance experience” (Press Release, June 8). The museum “will be dedicated to the presentation and exploration of the vibrant and diverse culture and history of Far North Queensland with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history.” In a city with limited performing arts facilities the new centre will doubtless be a great asset for local and visiting innovators.

emptyspaces nsw

Inspired by Marcus Westbury’s Renew Newcastle initiative, on June 7 the NSW government, as an integral part of their emptyspaces program, launched a new website service designed to promote ‘pop-up’, short-term re-uses of empty shops and other spaces for creative and community uses around the state. “The website is part of Arts NSW’s work on Creative Enterprise Hubs [that] operate in temporary low cost or free premises provided by commercial property owners, local governments and communities to artists and arts groups looking for space to produce, deliver and consume arts products and experiences.”

Emptyspaces is hosted by UTS Shopfront as part of the Cultural Asset Mapping in Regional Australia (CAMRA) project. The site “includes a Toolkit of information sheets and resources developed with the Arts Law Centre of Australia and the NSW Department of Planning, case studies of empty space initiatives in NSW, nationally and internationally, a community space for sharing information, maps of projects and spaces and the capacity for empty spaces to be logged.” According to Kim Spinks, Manager, Capacity and Development, Arts NSW has held briefings on Creative Enterprise Hubs in Lismore, Parramatta, Lithgow, Port Kembla and Gosford with further briefings to be held in Wagga Wagga on July 19 and in Leichhardt and Wollongong. The Emptyspaces Project Manager is Lisa Andersen, Community Engagement Coordinator,?UTS Shopfront Community Program,?02 9514 2902, lisa.andersen@uts.edu.au; http://emptyspaces.culturemap.org.au/

RealTime issue #97 June-July 2010 pg.

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 2010