Annual Report 2023

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annual report 2023

Arena Theatre Company respectfully acknowledges the Dja Dja Wurrung people, and the Taungurung Peoples of the Kulin Nation, the first peoples of country on which Arena Theatre stands.

We pay our respects to all of Bendigo’s First Peoples, and to their ancestors and elders. Indigenous sovereignty has never been ceded and we acknowledge that we continue to make art on what always was and always will be, Aboriginal land.

Hidden Creature Gallery at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
OVERVIEW About us 4 Our purpose 5 Our vision 5 Our values 5 The year at a glance 6 GOVERNANCE Chair’s report 9 Executive Director’s report 10 Artistic Director’s report 12 PROGRAM Touring projects 14 Extended installations 16 Community projects 20 Works in development 24 ORGANISATION Our people 32 Our partners 33 Creating extraordinary experiences for young people

Arena is one of Australia’s pioneering producers of theatre for young audiences with close to six decades of creating compelling performances and immersive live experiences.

We are known for our award-winning productions across traditional stages and non-theatre spaces alike, with our work regularly touring regionally, nationally, and internationally. At the heart of our mission is a commitment to new forms of storytelling for children and young people that foster shared experience and social connection. To achieve this, we continually seek to redefine the boundaries of forms our artists can use, both inside and outside traditional theatre settings.

From modest beginnings, touring shows to primary schools in a van, to our current standing as a leader in contemporary theatre practice for young audiences, our journey led us to make Bendigo our home since 2018. As the sole professional theatre company in Bendigo, we now recognise and embrace a dual role: as leaders in making Theatre for Young Audiences and in Regional Arts development.

Our work encompasses four main categories:

• Premiere and touring works created and premiered here in Bendigo before travelling around the state, the country and internationally. Robot Song is a prominent example.

• In-school initiatives where we artistically engage with students and test ideas for future works. Hidden Creature Gallery is one such example, growing from schools workshop to installed immersive experience in museums and hospitals.

• Community projects like Makers, which offers participatory opportunities to secondary students previously unavailable skill development pathways for and aspiring creatives in Regional Victoria.

• Special projects such as Journey, an immersive work inspired by the network of tunnels under Bendigo, and the planned Arena Children’s Festival, which aims to become part of the fabric of spring, culture, and the arts in Bendigo, reinforce our commitment to community enrichment. Initiatives like our creative industries work experience program and plans to host the 2024 Bendigo Pride Festival at Arena HQ, reflect our dedication to nurturing talent and celebrating diversity.

At Arena our small team shares a passion for the transformative power of theatre and creativity. We eagerly anticipate to the next chapter in our ongoing mission to inspire, engage, and empower young audiences.

2023 Annual Report 4 Arena Theatre Co.


Our purpose is to craft exceptional creative experiences that delight, inspire, and empower children and young people. We are committed to building a sustainable and impactful enterprise, setting a benchmark for excellence in our field. Through our work, we seek to enhance the well-being, opportunities, and joy within the Bendigo community


Arena Theatre Company envisions a future where every child and young person we connect with is empowered by their imagination and creativity, nurtured through exceptional theatrical and creative learning experiences.


• Collaboration

• Inclusion

• Respect

• Diversity

• Curiosity

• Innovation

Arena Theatre Co.

2023 in numbers


76 workshop sessions

455 participants

14 schools engaged


9408 attendees

33% in Regional Victoria

23% Interstate


5 works in development

43 artists employed


2900 Facebook followers

1600 Instagram followers

3938 website sessions

9669 website page views

Arena’s launch at MacGillivray Hall. Image White & Woods Ribbon cutting at new premises. Image White & Woods

2023 marked another exciting year for Arena. Among my personal highlights were our wonderful collaborations with like-minded organisations. These included:

• Partnering with the Starlight Foundation to deliver Hidden Creature Gallery at the Starlight Express Room in the Monash Children’s Hospital.

• Developing an installation for young people to engage with artefacts within the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

• Initiating the early stages of the War of the Worlds project in conjunction with Riverland Youth Theatre in Renmark, South Australia, to be simultaneously performed across three regional towns.

• Collaborating with Bendigo’s Golden Dragon Museum to create a bespoke Hidden Creature Gallery for local school children.

Our achievements owe much to the dedication of our Board and the Arena team. We welcomed Stan Liacos and Dr. Meg Upton to the Board during the year. Stan’s wealth of experience spanning private and government sectors has enriched our strategic discussions. Meg’s deep understanding of arts, education, and governance has swiftly made an impact, working with the Board and the team. Hahn Chau’s generous support of the Finance Committee is invaluable as we navigate emerging challenges. Our heartfelt gratitude extends to our supporters for their sponsorship, funding, and philanthropy. Special acknowledgment goes to the Betty Amsden Foundation for enabling Arena to offer young people opportunities for creative skill development.

Our move to MacGillvray Hall, part of Bendigo Regional TAFE, has been beautifully signified through prominent signage, made possible by

Jacinta Jackson’s generous support, ensuring Arena is visibly seen as part of the Bendigo community.

As we look ahead to 2024, we are preparing to reinvigorate our philanthropic program. This will see us build on valued current and past partnerships while forging new relationships within the Bendigo community and further afield. There is no denying the disappointment of Creative Australia’s decision not to fund Arena in the current round. As we chart the next phase for Arena, the wisdom, strategic insight, and determination of our Board and staff will be invaluable and are enormously appreciated. We also acknowledge the continued funding and support from our State Government partner, Creative Victoria, in advancing our crucial work.

A huge thank you goes out to our Executive Director & Co-CEO Debra Allanson, Artistic Director and Co-CEO Christian Leavesley, and Program Development & Marketing Manager Kristen Beever for their combined energy and dedication.

Arena Theatre Co. 9 2023 Annual Report

The past year bustled with activity across all fronts for Arena.

Hidden Creature Gallery continued its remarkable journey from its inception as a pioneering Augmented Reality classroom workshop to long-term installations at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Starlight Express Room at Monash Children’s Hospital. Plans for tours to other hospitals are currently in progress. These collaborations could not occur without the insights gained from children experiencing Hidden Creature Gallery first hand, and have been immensely satisfying. They have opened exciting new avenues for Arena to offer largerscale, customised Hidden Creature Gallery experiences to other institutions seeking to offer their visitors more immersive engagements.

Our unwavering belief in the touring potential of our Helpmann-Award-winning musical, Robot Song, gained significant momentum throughout the year as an international tour took shape. Anchored by an initial commitment from the prestigious Vancouver International Children’s Festival, a four-city tour in Canada has been confirmed for May 2024, preceded by presentations in New Zealand scheduled for April 2024. Despite the disruptions to tour plans caused by COVID, we could not be more excited at how the resilience of this outstanding show, its writer and director Jolyon James, the creative team, and our dedicated tour agent, NCM, has ultimately prevailed.

Securing the funding and new partnerships that has enabled us to launch long-planned new program initiatives was a highlight of the year. Notable among these were support from the City of Greater Bendigo for establishing a regional Children’s Festival, funding from the Betty Amsden Foundation to pilot Makers, our short course program for teens and young adults, and Strategic Partner funding from the Department of Education for Country and Belonging, our First Nations-led schools’ program. Additionally, we were thrilled and inspired by the invaluable mentorship and business coaching for Journey, our immersive project in development, from the REMIX team

through Creative Australia’s inaugural Createch mentorship program.

Our longstanding aspiration for Arena to have an inspiring and practical workspace came to fruition with our relocation to historic MacGillivray Hall, conveniently located on the Bendigo TAFE City Campus. Since moving in May, MacHall has buzzed with creative development workshops, work experience groups, and community events. It’s a fun place to be!

In December, we faced the disappointment of not securing operational funding from Creative Australia for the 2025-2028 period. However, this setback served as a pivotal moment for Arena. We are steadfast in our commitment to evolving into a creative hub, focused on the needs of children and young people while providing new opportunities for creatives living in regional Victoria. Underpinned with funding and support from our State Government partner, Creative Victoria, we are actively pursuing new partnership and funding opportunities to further our mission.

None of our achievements would be possible without incredible individuals who share the Arena vision, and who contribute to Arena’s ongoing success. I am personally grateful to the members of our team: Caitlin Williams, who applied her considerable skill set across all tours as Associate Producer; Kristen Beever who wasted no time in bringing fresh program ideas to life as Program Development and Marketing Manager on joining in April; and, of course, Christian Leavesley, whose unflagging enthusiasm serves as the driving force behind the small but mighty Arena team.

Our appreciation extends to everyone involved, from our hard-working Chair, Anne Henshall, to all Board members and staff to the talented artists, invaluable partners, and supportive friends within our community.

2023 Annual Report 10 Arena Theatre Co.
Hidden Creature Gallery workshop at The Round

Arena has been doing important work to evolve the way we create professional works, in response to our home city and to the larger context within which we do our work. We want to give children and young people more opportunities to connect with what our company does.

There have been many individual artistic highlights for the year. But, in terms of driving growth and innovation in our artistic processes, it is one of our most established works that continues to demonstrate that a powerful creative engine that is also responsive, has the capacity to speak profoundly to our times. Hidden Creature Gallery consistently generates extraordinary outcomes that put children at the centre, that inspires artists, that creates highly original artworks, is highly responsive to local context, and tours with almost no freight. At heart, the project is about professional artists bringing their extraordinary skills

into connection with the imaginations and experiences of children. Artists and children alike create surprising, beautiful, revealing and fun art.

This year we completed the most advanced Hidden Creatures project we have ever undertaken – headlining the Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery’s “Lift Off” Festival. In many ways this project was a dream come true for us. It gave us the time and resources to level up all aspects of the project to land a significant digital content feature within a major national museum.

The creatures were a beautiful symbiosis of exciting facts related to the museum’s artifacts, and how children perceive and make sense of this history. We learned a great deal from all of the museum’s curators, including the team responsible for their indigenous exhibition and programs. There was great sensitivity and collaborative spirit, as the artists worked with the children and the museum staff to share

Hidden Creature Gallery TMAG social media

agency, creativity, and responsibility in the creation of the Gallery. It is these complex, nuanced and layered ways of creating – collaborating with a diverse range of individuals and communities - that represents powerful development in the way we create professional art. I could not be more proud that we are working in this way to deliver high profile, technically complex projects on the national stage.

I already feel guilty for not mentioning other projects we had on during the year. The Born in a Taxi Residency, War of the Worlds development at Fairfax Youth Initiative, Hidden CreatureGallery’s other long-term installation with the Starlight Foundation, our Makers projects, the REMIX mentorship, to name a few. What all of our projects have in common is a commitment to new ways of opening up professional creative processes to our audience and community. It can be a delicate balance – not all parts of the creative process

benefit by having the audience in the room with the artists. Artists need time and space to make the quality of work that is admired around the country and around the world. But, it is essential that we engage our audience wherever we can, so they also fall in love with creating brand new theatre and art. We are doing this better than we ever have.

To the artists who worked on Arena’s projects over the last year, and the children and young people who participated, I want to thank you for all your brilliance and creativity! And to my colleagues working at Arena, and to our incredible Board, thank you for all your endless hard work! It has been another remarkable year of learning, listening and creating.


Hidden Creature Gallery



Drift Arts Festival

30 April


Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre

28 June to 1 July


Golden Dragon Museum

24 August workshops

5 November hunt

Narre Warren

Bunjil Place

20-28 September


The Round

19 September 1 Workshop

15 October hunt


Sarah Branton

Mark Egan

Jolyon James

Christian Leavesley

Phillip McInnes

Sarah Walker

Dominec Weintraub

Caitlin Williams

PRODUCER: Caitlin WIlliams

Hidden Creature Gallery is one of Arena’s longest running touring projects. In this short-form model, it offers an engaging two-part creative learning experience, typically staged across 1-3 days.

Hidden Creature Gallery is a space activation in two parts. The first part involves a workshop where children use their creativity to create their own digital creatures.

Guided by digital and story artists, the children immerse themselves in the process, photographing various objects and writing back-stories about the characters they are creating.

Arena’s skilled digital artists then transform these images into fantastical Augmented Reality animations, complete with expressive faces and articulated body parts. Using motion capture technology, the children animate their creations with their own voice and movement.

In the second part, children and families embark on a hunt throughout the venue or outdoor location, searching for hidden markers, then scanning them with their smart devices to reveal the creatures.

The 2023 Hidden Creature Gallery tour featured 5 locations in the short-form model.

2023 Annual Report 14 Arena Theatre Co.
Hidden Creature Gallery at Bunjil Place

Hidden Creature Gallery in the Starlight Express Room at the Monash Children’s Hospital

In April, we launched a custom, long-term version of the Hidden Creature Gallery in the Starlight Express Room at Monash Children’s Hospital. This version was developed in consultation with The Captains Starlight, who engage with both patients and visitors through games, quizzes, and crafts, bringing lightness and joy into the lives of children and their families at a challenging time.

This version of Hidden Creature Gallery integrates the signature elements of the original work with the addition of a hexaflexagon to instruct the flow of the hunt. There are six animated creatures hidden throughout the space. Early feedback from the Starlight team was overwhelmingly positive and insightful, enabling us to make adjustments that increased engagement and functionality

Originally slated to conclude at the end of November, the Monash installation has garnered such enthusiasm that the Starlight team proposed touring the experience to hospitals in Darwin and Sydney for weeklong stints, rather than extending the stay at Monash alone. This expansion signifies the project’s impactful reach and potential scalability. Additionally, the Captains produced a promotional case study video that highlights our collaboration.

DATES: Launched 17 April Duration: eight months


Mark Egan

Jolyon James Christian Leavesley James Bodin

PRODUCER: Caitlin WIlliams


Above: Starlight Children’s Foundation Opposite page: @starlightau

Watch the case study video

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Hidden Creature Gallery in the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery

DATES: Launched 4 October

Duration: six months


Mark Egan

Jolyon James

Christian Leavesley

Sarah Walker


Caitlin WIlliams


This page: @tasmuseum

Opposite: Chris Kidd, Hobart Mercury

Inset, opposite: Some of TMAG’s social media stories

The realisation of this large-scale ‘Festival’ version of Hidden Creature Gallery marks a significant milestone for Arena, fulfilling a long-held ambition. The development of a bespoke TMAG app, along with the dedicated effort invested in creating meticulously crafted animated creatures represented a significant advancement for our team and this product. The work involved consultation with First Nations curators to ensure cultural sensitivity in the creatures’ narratives, and refining some narratives accordingly. The artistic team expressed immense pride in this achievement. The project’s release aligned with TMAG’s Lift Off! Festival, Tasmania’s only dedicated annual cultural festival for children and young people. The high-profile opening of Lift Off! was attended by Federal, State, and Local MPs, and covered by the Seven network and the Hobart Mercury, lending unprecedented significance to the project.

The reception from TMAG staff has been overwhelmingly positive and included excellent social media marketing. Moving forward, we see this largerscale model, with deeper engagement and enhanced experiential quality as the benchmark for positioning Hidden Creature Gallery’s future endeavours.

Arena Theatre Co. 19 2023 Annual Report

Arena Makers

In Term 4, we debuted Arena Makers pilot. This is a series of short courses designed for community participation, led by professional artists. The first course was a promenade theatre project that utilised the unique spaces of MacGillivray Hall and the School of Mines Buildings. Facilitated by Sarah Lockwood of Threshold Theatre and Sylvie Meltzer of Polyglot Theatre, the course engaged nine young participants over six weeks.

At the conclusion, the work entitled “Wanted,” was successfully presented in front of an enthiusiastic community audience of 30 people. Participants embraced new perspectives on theatre-making with their friends and families actively engaged. One parent commented, “I thought we had to go to Melbourne to see theatre like that!”

As we continue to plan future micro-projects for young people, we are continuously learning, and refining our expectations. The pilot Arena Makers course has laid a solid foundation to roll out the 2024 program. Makers is made possible by the:

DATES: 19 October to 23 November



ARTISTS: Sarah Lockwood Sylvie Meltzer

PRODUCER: Kristen Beever

IMAGES: Inset: Kristen Beever Main: Sylvie Meltzer


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“My daughter loved her experience with Arena's Makers Workshop. The finished product was a creative and fun experience that our whole family attended, and we were stunned at how much the group achieved in such a short number of weeks. We saw our daughter’s confidence soar, so much so, that she has auditioned and gained a part in her school musical this year.”



Work Experience

Offering work experience strategically aligns with Arena’s development goals. It enables us to develop strong relationships with regional secondary schools and enhances the company’s standing among careers and arts staff.

In 2023 Arena we welcomed 11 students, making us the largest provider of creative industry placements in Bendigo.

During the week-long program, students rose to the challenge of learning the process to adapt a children’s book into a stage show. In small groups, they researched, brainstormed and tested scene ideas. Guest speakers contributed ideas to the set task and inspired students with insights into careers in the arts.

This participatory ensemble model equips students with valuable skills in scene and story development, teamwork, communication, and idea sharing.

In addition to the benefits to participants, this program also provides crucial research for Arena’s potential future shows.


5 days

11 participants

10 schools

5 guest speakers


David Gagliardi

Anne Henshall

Nathan Keown

Leonie Van Eyk

Abe Watson


Watch the feedback video

COMMUNITY PROJECTS 2023 Annual Report 22 Arena Theatre Co.
Arena Theatre Co. 23 2023 Annual Report

Robot Song international tour

Juniper is constantly compared to a robot, but after encountering one on her doorstep, she begins the adventure of a lifetime. Bullies are no match for our young heroine, as she believes in herself and her passion for robots more than anything. Based on a true story, Robot Song illustrates the profound, transformative nature of creativity that when combined with unconditional love, becomes an unstoppable force.

Over the past year, we collaborated closely with the dedicated team at Nicholas Clark Management (NCM) to advance the international touring plans for Robot Song. This collaboration marked the initial steps towards achieving our longstanding goal of touring this remarkable production, renowned for its themes of inclusion and the transformative power of love presented through captivating musical storytelling.

Securing participation from the prestigious Vancouver International Children’s Festival, a globally recognised event renowned for its focus on works for young audiences, marked a key milestone. This served as the foundation

for locking in a comprehensive four-city tour across Canada scheduled for May and early June 2024.

Preceding the Canadian leg, Robot Song will showcase in New Zealand throughout April 2024, concluding what promises to be an auspicious year for its inaugural full-scale international tour.

Despite the setback of a previously cancelled tour due to the impact of COVID-19, we are thrilled by the resilience demonstrated by Robot Song, its creator and director Jolyon James, the entire creative team, and our tour agent, NCM, whose unwavering dedication has ultimately prevailed.

2023 Annual Report 24 Arena Theatre Co.
Arena Theatre Co. 25 2023 Annual Report

Born in a Taxi residency

The Born in a Taxi residency involved a recipricol exchange of ideas that took place in the first week of November.

Christian visited Newport, spending a day with CoArtistic Directors Carolyn Hanna and Penny Baron at Born in a Taxi’s “boathouse.” This was followed by Penny and Carolyn’s two-day visit to Bendigo for intensive creative development sessions at Arena HQ.

The team engaged in insightful discussions, analysing each company’s respective works and creative processes to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. This collaborative dialogue served as a powerful form of professional development, enabling participants to contrast and learn from each other’s creative approaches.

From these discussions, we generated a series of starting points for potential new shows, exploring five distinct creative avenues before narrowing down to one promising concept. Born in a Taxi will return to Bendigo next year to work with Arena and a group of local young people. Through this future workshop, we will evaluate the concept’s viability, potentially paving the way for its inclusion in Arena’s Children’s Festival.

DATES: Newport 2 November Bendigo 8-9 November


Christian Leavesley

Penny Baron

Carolyn Hanna

IMAGES: Kristen Beever

Arena Theatre Co. 27 2023 Annual Report

Country & Belonging

Country and Belonging is a First Nations designed and led multi-artform project that increases children’s understanding of the practice and significance of Acknowledgments of Country. Every child regularly hears these acknowledgements made in public settings, including in their schools. While they may understand the theoretical basis for it, it is less likely they have an active personal relationship to the words.

Working with our team of artists, each student will learn First Nations’ forms of painting and weaving, they will participate in making digital art forms including video, audio and 3D digital objects and they will write their own Acknowledgement of Country. Underpinning each of the creative activities will be story sharing and storytelling about First Nations cultural practices and students’ relationships with country.

The program culminates in a performance/ exhibition event where all the artworks are shared with the school community.

Country & Belonging aligns with Visual Arts, and Critical and Creative thinking modules of study.

Following the enthusiastic reception of our 2022 pilot, we successfully applied to the Department of Education’s Strategic Partnerships Program for funding to roll out Country and Belonging at scale over the next two years. For the remainder of 2023 this project remains in development as we explore the program structure, logistics and staffing options to deliver it, beginning in 2024.

2023 Annual Report 28 Arena Theatre Co.

Children’s Festival

The Children’s Festival is an ambition Arena has harboured since our relocation to Bendigo in 2018. It will be a new initiative for Arena, and a brand new, annual event for the City, and the only one of its kind in the region.

In the last quarter of 2023 we learned of our successful application for 3-year development funding from the City of Greater Bendigo, via their Partnering For Impact grants. 2024 will be dedicated to planning for the inaugural festival in the Spring of 2025, within the Ulumbarra Theatre complex. In future years the plan is to expand the festival over multiple days and into other Bendigo CBD locations. This gradual expansion will enable the event to reach more members of the community, schools in particular.

Our vision is for the festival as an anticipated local event on the Bendigo calendar. It will offer a broad variety of affordable or free live performance to hundreds of children and their families, and to the City’s spring “BLOOM” festivities.

For Arena, the festival will be where we regularly premiere our newest work.

Ultimately, we will harness our expertise as theatre makers and programmers in partnership with BV&E to establish a reputation for this festival as a must-see event that quickly becomes a cultural imperative for families, annually.

Arena Theatre Co. 29 2023 Annual Report


Journey was selected for the REMIX Summits/ Australia Council Createch Digital Enterprise program, aimed at digital or hybrid projects gaining traction from disruptive creative organisations.

Createch offered 20 hours of consulting, attendance at REMIX Perth, and culminated in a 4-minute filmed presentation that showcases Arena as one of Australia’s emerging creative industries entrepreneurs.

The mentorship from Peter Tullin and Simon Cronshaw, was invaluable. Peter shared compelling examples of immersive experiences and the innovative companies behind them. These sessions helped to strategically position Arena’s Intellectual Property regarding Journey, and our specialised services in the Australian and global immersive experience markets. We explored two avenues for Journey’s potential development: as a large-scale permanent installation and as an adaptable, tourable experience. Both approaches leverage

our strength in audience engagement through storytelling while incorporating "sandbox" educational elements.

In November, the core creative team met at the Victorian College of the Arts to discuss ways to integrate our Createch learnings and outline the project’s next steps.


10 August to 8 December 20 hours of mentorship

1 ticket to REMIX Perth and attendance on a panel of CREATECH recipients.


Peter Tullin

Simon Cronshaw


Remix Perth

2023 Annual Report 30 Arena Theatre Co.

War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds has garnered national interest from programmers following a hybrid concept presentation at APAX in August.

Theatre companies and young people from Bendigo, Renmark, Whyalla, and The Mallee participated in the Fairfax Youth Festival, in Swan Hill in Term 4.

Significant progress was made across the two-week period. The 40-minute presentation at Swan Hill Town Hall was enthusiastically received. However, the project’s scale and collaborative nature proved more ambitious than initially anticipated, necessitating considerable time investment to establish a working style that accommodated the diverse needs of all participants. Moving forward, the plan is for each region to develop an independent version of the script, to address potential challenges with working styles.

Fleur Kilpatrick, Artistic Director and writer for War of the Worlds, will be taking maternity leave from April 2024. Arena’s plan for 2024 is to undertake further creative development with an ensemble of Bendigo’s young people.


24 September - 8 October

19 participants

4 artists

1 showing attended by 200 people

August 28 - Digital presentation: APAX


Fleur Kilpatrick - Playwright Bryce Ives – Artistic Director

Christian Leavesley - Director Nate Gilkes - Composer


Arena Theatre Company, Bendigo Riverland Youth Theatre, Renmark D’Faces, Whyalla Fairfax Youth Festival, Swan Hill

PRODUCER: Alysha Herrmann

IMAGE: Alysha Herrmann

Arena Theatre Co. 31 2023 Annual Report


The Arena Board is made up of Directors with experience drawn from across the Arts, Business, Finance and Community sectors. Three committees support the work of the Board:

Finance Committee

Ensure the intetgrity of the financial reporting and audit process.

Philanthropy and Partnership Committee

Supports the development of strategies and key relationships with the aim to diversify and grow our funding and resource base.

Risk and Governance Committee

Ensures the integrity of risk management systems, oversees the maintenance of policies, and supports employment practices.

Board members

• Anne Henshall (Chair)

• Debra Allanson

• Emily Fiori

• Liahn Nortjé

• Christian Leavesley

• Stan Liacos (Appointed 15 July 2023)

• Aneke McCulloch

• Meg Upton (Appointed 9 December 2023)

• Abe Watson

• Sandra Willis (Retired 20 May 2023)

• Tom Wolff (Retired 20 March 2023)

Arena prioritises the recruitment of its people from within central Victoria. We are committed to growing the pool of talent and expertise through work placement, internship and volunteer opportunities, and our talent development initiatives (Makers, residencies).


BBKM (Bendigo, Swan Hill, Mildura) provides our bookkeeping services. AFS (Bendigo) audit the company accounts.


Arena has worked closely with Nicholas Clark Management since 2019 to develop and manage national and international touring.

Caitlin Williams Producer: Journey, Robot Song, Hidden Creature Gallery Kristen Beever Program Development and Marketing Manager (Incoming April)
2023 Annual Report 32 Arena Theatre Co.

Arena is very grateful to the following organisations for their support, partnership, and invaluable assistance.

State Partners


Operations Partners Arena Theatre Co. 33 2023 Annual Report
Project Hidden Creature Gallery at Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre

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