Arena Annual Report 2021

Page 1

Annual Report 2021

Arena Theatre 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.

2 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021
3 About Arena 4 Chair’s report 6 Artistic Director’s report 7 2021 in numbers 10 Project reports 12 Equity Action Plan 20 Board members 22 Staff 24 Acknowledgements 25 Contents
Creating extraordinary experiences for young people

About Arena

Established in 1966, Arena is one of Australia’s longest-running producers of theatre for young people. For over 50 years, Arena’s work has represented and reflected the changing lives and imaginations of young people. We create art that encourages children and young people to imagine new futures beyond the world defined by previous generations.

From our home in Bendigo, Arena conducts its artistic research by collaborating with young people from all over the Central Goldfields region.

55 Years of Arena

1,885 artists employed

95 tours

Images: birthday celebrations, 2021 - the Arena Theatre Co team celebrate 55 years, despite a cancelled event

2,769 schools engaged

1,545,620 audience reached (and counting...)

25 international tours

155 new Australian works

4 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Chair’s report

Another year on and the arts industry has continued to be challenged by the effects of Covid-19. I am pleased to say that Arena Theatre Company has continued to inject an amazing amount of energy and positivity into the community despite another difficult year. Whilst we had no choice on the need to respond to the changing climate in our industry, we did have a choice about how to move forward and I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to my Arena Theatre Company Board colleagues for their time, expertise and positive commitment to ensure Arena continued to thrive in this ever-changing environment.

The Board farewelled Jon Anstey, Deputy Chair and our sincere thanks go to John for his significant contribution.

To our talented Arena team, thank you for your energy, professionalism and creativity ensuring continued engagement with young people by helping them discover their creativity and by telling their stories through projects such as Baai, Creative Classrooms, Heart VR and Hidden Creatures

Deserving of special recognition was Arena’s collaboration with the local South Sudanese community and Bendigo Community Health in the creation of Baai (Meaning Home in Dinka). This unique collaborative project, developed by Eliza Hull, Ajak Kwai, Awak Kongor and the young generation of the Bendigo South Sudanese community, produced a colourful, inspiring, and emotional film.

The development and introduction of Arena’s Equity Action Plan is another exciting step toward improving diversity within our organisation and ultimately supports a fair work culture that values the individual strengths of every employee.

Thanks must go to our Executive and Artistic Directors and Artistic Associate, Eliza Hull, for their thorough work in this area.

To accommodate increased staff levels Arena relocated to new accommodation providing improved facilities and comfort for staff together with storage on site. The relationship with Bendigo Venues & Events and its wonderful performance spaces of the Old Fire Station, Capital and Ulumburra theatres continues and strengthens each year.

A sincere thank you must go to the public and private organisations that support Arena to deliver local, regional, national and international experiences with, and for, young people. To Creative Victoria, the Federal Government’s RISE program, Australia Council, the Besen Foundation and Creative Partnerships Australia, we express our gratitude.

To our valued donors and local supporters, the entire Arena team thank you for your generosity and positive support, ensuring Arena continues to deliver quality and meaningful creative experiences for so many.

Lastly, I encourage everyone to keep their eyes open for an exciting and innovative project planned for development and presentation in 2022 that will see Arena Theatre Company venture into a whole new world through the creation of totally immersive experience.

6 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Artistic Director’s report

Last year we celebrated 55 years of Arena Theatre Company. It is a remarkable achievement for any cultural organisation in these times, but especially for a theatre company that specialises in creating new expressions of performance and original work.

The year included a lot of disruption to the industry as a whole, and Arena sends our support to all the individuals and organisations making performance right around the country. The value we provide to our respective communities could not be clearer.

Though we suffered our share of cancellations and postponements - including our actual 55th Birthday Party - when I look back at what we achieved in 2021 I could not be prouder. We delivered a set of premieres and ‘firsts’ that were nothing short of spectacular. Although we never got to have the actual party, I want to send a big ‘Thank You!’ to everybody who supported our 55th Birthday Giving Campaign. It was a terrific result for the Company.

In February Arena opened The Castlemaine State Festival for the first time in our history, with the South Sudanese Women’s Ensemble providing a brilliant performance of song and storytelling on the huge outdoor stage in Castlemaine. The venue was packed, with thousands more tuning into the live stream. The ovation for this performance could not have been more enthusiastic from everybody present.

During the same month, we premiered our very first Virtual Reality work in Bendigo Pride Festival. Many of our audience members commented that the opportunity to spend a little time with their own heart was exactly what they needed following the challenges of the first pandemic year.

Heart VR was developed out of a research relationship that we had established with Melbourne University’s Creative Convergence Project. It was very exciting to see a ‘pure’ research project evolve into a public performance for one of Bendigo’s most important festivals. The Creative Convergence Project has delivered important insights and understandings of our work since 2017, and I want to thank the researchers and project partners for all their hard work over many years.

Our second premiere for the year was also a hybrid performance project that had roots in a powerful partnership - this time the partnership was with Bendigo Community Health.

Baai was the culmination of many years of work of the South Sudanese Women’s Ensemble. Following the second long lockdown period in the middle of 2021, we had some thinking to do about about the feasibility of rehearsing and performing a major work for the Ulumbarra stage.

The outcome of this thinking was a decision to create a stand-alone film that would sit alongside a live component of singing, dancing and storytelling. It was thrilling to see the Ensemble and creative team take on this challenge so enthusiastically. The result was a most beautiful and powerful piece of performance work.


Artistic Director’s report (cont’d)

The response from the audience and the community to Baai was overwhelming. It has been an incredible project for Arena that has opened up new approaches to creativity for the Company, while celebrating the voices and stories of Bendigo’s South Sudanese community. Our presenting partner, Bendigo Venues and Events, supported us through every step of the process. We are grateful for the ongoing support.

Touring was significantly disrupted during the year, causing cancellations and postponements of Hidden Creature Gallery and Robot Song in particular. We feel fortunate to have been able to take HCG to Dream Big Festival in Adelaide, another highlight of the year. For those 2 weeks in May it felt like ‘normality’ as we toured to a major festival and were able to see a range of shows and artworks from around the country.

During the year, we held another Bendigo Studio residency, partnering with the Victorian College of the Arts and Camp Hill Primary School. We supported Goldfields Library and their incredible Allied4Em project. We hosted students’ events in the Bendigo Writers Festival, and we activated Hargreaves Mall for Bendigo’s Easter Fair, another first for Arena.

As you would expect, we always keep at least one eye on the future. For 2021, this meant developing a brand new work called Journey Journey will be a large scale, first person narrative adventure that uses Augmented Reality to animate characters, creatures and objects within a fully realised, stunningly detailed fantasy world. Journey is a highly ambitious work that puts Arena at the very forefront of works that combine first person performance and Augmented Reality. We can’t wait to show it to you in September, 2022.

When times are tricky, as they have been for the last couple of years, it is an organisation’s partners that hold it steady and help it to stay focused on its mission. Arena is blessed with a range of incredible partners – in presentation, producing, artistic, philanthropic, community, education, research and funding. We thank all of our partners who have been so committed in their support for our Company.

To sign off, I want to recognise Arena’s people. We saw two long-standing staff members, Jolyon James and Gayle McClure, move on from their positions at Arena during the year. Their work has been outstanding for many years, and they will be missed. But, it is certainly not goodbye. And to all of our staff, artists, board and the many people who contribute to Arena in ways large and small - Thank you for making the art happen!

8 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021
Opposite page: cast and crew of BAAI

LIVE performances 97 WORKSHOPS

5,000+ ONLINE AUDIENCE (estimated)

7,859 PEOPLE attended live events

eight capacity-building projects


10 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021 2021 in numbers

two NEW WORKS in development


36 ARTISTS employed

50 SCHOOLS engaged


Projects 2021

Heart VR

12 - 24 March 2021

Heart VR began as open-ended research into the performative potentials of Virtual Reality. Arena undertook this research in partnership with the ‘Creative Convergence’ ARC project being run by Melbourne University. During 2020 we elevated Heart to become a public project in development, thanks to a special funding round from the Australia Council. We premiered Heart VR in the Bendigo Pride Festival in February 2021.

Creative Technologist Lachlan Sleight joined Christian Leavesley, Jolyon James, Darius Kedros and Paris Balla to develop the concept into a public performance. James Bodin joined the team as the performer.

Heart VR is an exploration of who we truly are, ‘at heart.’ The piece joins with a series of works that Arena has done over recent years that is concerned with how we achieve self-definition. Together, they explore self-definition as a way to build confidence, pride and empowerment.

One of the challenges of developing the piece was to find a way that the strengths of Virtual Reality could be married to the strengths of live performance. The way we approached this challenge was to present the first half of the piece as a solo performance, and the second half as a multi-person VR experience. Each performance could accommodate 6 performers.

We used the solo performance to define the imaginative world and the ‘central question of the piece’ for the audience. We then took the audience to places in VR – versions of The Engine Room Theatre, The Harcourt Oak Forest, the sky above us – to encourage the audience to explore the imaginative world, and find their own answers to the central question of who they are at heart.

Each performance was followed by an informal de-brief with each other and some of the artists to share their experiences, and what they had discovered.

HEART VR is a hybrid live and Virtual Reality performance that asks participants to question and listen to what is in their heart.

The Bendigo Studio

12 - 30 April 2021

The Bendigo Studio is a collaboration between Arena, the Victorian College of the Arts, Bendigo Venues & Events. It is a Development Studio that brings artists and VCA students together to create brand new performance works.

With the Covid risks inherent in bringing artists from around the country to Bendigo, we shifted the emphasis of this year’s Bendigo Studio to a tighter format involving fewer partners to work on concepts for Arena’s new large scale project, Journey.

The Studio extended to 3 weeks, which gave us the opportunity to partner with local school, Camp Hill Primary to run engagement workshops and test the outcomes.

Over the course of The Bendigo Studio we worked on creating adventurous story lines, responding to every conceivable size of space – our playing spaces included everything from miniatures to the whole of Rosalind Park.

We sent signals from the poppet head, we made scenes at distance that needed binoculars, tiny puppet shows that could only be seen using a camera attached to a microscope, and Augmented Reality both indoors and out.

The Studio culminated with a promenade performance for the Camp Hill students that began at their school gate, crossed through Rosalind Park, rambled around the outskirts of The Capital Theatre, before moving into The Engine Room Theatre, and finishing in the car park out the back. The children were taken on a journey through incredible worlds, of all shapes and scales, using high technology and the most perfectly simple theatrical techniques.

It was a marvellous and rewarding Bendigo Studio. We thank all our partners for The Studio and Camp Hill Primary School for making it possible.

14 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Bendigo Easter Festival:

3-4 April 2021

Dream Big Festival:

18-29 May 2021

West Gippsland: 13-17 July 2021*

Hamilton Halloween Festival: 26-30 October 2021

Hidden Creature Gallery

Ever wondered what your favorite tree in the park was thinking? What does your toaster think about your choice of cheese spread?

Part laboratory, part performance and all imagination, Hidden Creature Gallery is an exciting interactive work for school aged children and their families. Sitting between the digital and the real, this work empowers young people to bring to life the places and objects around them and give them voice.

In May 2021, Hidden Creatures spent two weeks in Adelaide for the Dream Big Festival. And in October 2021, we spent a week in Hamilton, regional Victoria. In-between this time, there were seven other residencies in regional towns that had been booked and subsequently postponed, largely due to the restrictions on schools and their inability to plan any incursions or excursions.

Combining inspiring art and cutting edge technology Hidden Creature Gallery is enjoyable, entertaining and educational for everyone. We look forward to following through with our residency model of the Hidden Creature Gallery as it sidles into regional Victoria in 2022.

* cancelled mid-week due to restrictions



Castlemaine State Festival Opening Night Performance: 19 March 2021

Film and Live Performance Premiere

Ulumbarra Theatre: 12-13 November

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Arena facilitated and supported a weekly meeting, bringing together 10 women from the Bendigo South Sudanese community. This was supported by disabled musical artist/writer, Eliza Hull and three professional South Sudanese artists Atong Atem (photographer), Awak Kongor (writer, script consultant) and Ajak Kwai (writer/director and musical artist)

Together the group wrote songs, stories and created choreographed dance and movement. Their stories included their experiences of traveling from South Sudan through the refugee camps in Kenya and now calling Bendigo their home. Support workers from Bendigo Community Health Services were available for counselling when required.

The group began by performing at a Bendigo Community Health event which was extremely well received. After this the group performed at the Castlemaine State Festival in March 2021 as part of the opening night. The show was a mix of dance, singing and storytelling.

The women also sang back-up vocals for professional artist and mentor Ajak Kwai. The show was very well received, people from the audience said they felt like it was long overdue to see South Sudanese cultural representation on a major festival stage.

After this performance, the women’s stories were recorded in July and October by Eliza Hull - the group worked for a full week on developing a live performance with Ajak Kwai and Awak Kongor. The performance was scheduled to be performed at the Ulumbarra Theatre in October 2021. Due to COVID restrictions, this project then evolved into the women producing a short film in October 2021 with award winning director/ cinemaphotographer Keiran Watson-Bonnice. The film was titled BAAI (Home) and presented at the Ulumbarra Theatre in November to a group of both South Sudanese and non-South Sudanese audiences over 2 nights. Over the two nights 600 audience members attended, each night there were standing ovations. The film was followed by a live performance of singing and dancing, showcasing their rich South Sudanese culture. This performance garnered media support including Bendigo Advertiser, ABC Radio, Vision Australia, PBS and RRR. The group was also interviewed, and their performance showcased on ‘Art Works’ on ABC TV nationally.

The greatest success of this project is the relationships the women created together through their time connecting in the weekly meetings. Without this, they have stated they often feel isolated, even from members of their own community, especially during COVID.

16 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Coming together created an opportunity and gave them purpose to not only meet regularly but to celebrate their rich culture and shared experiences. In addition, the project generated a tremendous amount of pride for the group by creating an opportunity to share their culture with the wider Bendigo community and beyond.

As a company we are now actively seeking opportunities for the film to be shared with a wider audience through film festivals around Australia and internationally.

The film has already been screened at The Village Square Festival in Castlemaine and Harmony Festival in Bendigo, with the expectation it will be screened nationally and internationally in 2022.

The group continues to meet and through the connections they have made, they are furthering their careers; One of the participants is now forging a career in modelling and performance through a mentoring opportunity created through the group.

This project was largely successful due to the relationships that were created, the meaning and purpose it gave the South Sudanese participants, and the way it shifted and disrupted attitudes and perceptions in wider society of what it means to be a refugee in a regional city like Bendigo.


Robot Song national tour

(postponed) 21 July to 4 September 2021

At its core, Robot Song is about modern parenting and the celebration of difference. It’s about the complex invisible connections we build with our children to both understand and support them.

It’s about searching out and strengthening that one special thing only they respond to and building it into solid platform from where they can confidently view the world. The lead character, Juniper, is on the autism spectrum and the role is played by Sophie Smyth who identifies as being on the autism spectrum.

The show utilises sophisticated cutting-edge animation software, combined with complex large-scale puppetry and animatronics, all supported by an incredibly emotive musical score. Despite its themes, the show is highly comedic and often absurd.

Drawn from real life events, it is a celebration of creativity and unconditional love and is accessible for both neurotypical and neurodiverse families alike.

After being postponed in 2020, Robot Song was due to tour Victoria and NSW from July to September 2021. Rehearsals commenced and all was on track until the omicron outbreak in Victoria and NSW. Just days before the shows premiere performance, the entire tour had to be cancelled and rescheduled into 2022. This was devastating for the artists who had already had to deal with the postponement from the previous year. We chose to honour our contract for the first leg of the tour and repurposed the actors and creatives towards filming the production for an updated archival recording.

The tour has now been rescheduled for 2022.

18 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Journey (in development)

Journey is a multi-platform installation experience for young audiences and their families. It is both a first person real-time adventure, and an extraordinary fictional world that can be freely explored.

We invite audiences into large scale immersive environments, in which every detail of this imaginary world is carefully curated and constructed. We then use the latest in augmented reality technology to animate these immersive environments – generating characters, plotlines and challenges to overcome.

“Your group arrives at Journey and is introduced to a mysterious device that holds the key to an amazing world. The first puzzle opens a door that is hidden in plain sight. Once through the door, you are instantly immersed in an uncanny world unlike any other. It is a world that is simultaneously ancient past and distant future. Its landscapes are intriguing enough by themselves but literally explode with life and movement when viewed through the accompanying augmented reality app.”

During 2021, the key members of the creative and producing teams were assembled, and set to work on bringing the concept for Journey into reality. The creative team includes Christina Smith, Lachlan Sleight, Paul Lim, Ania Reynolds, Rachel Lee and Christian Leavesley.

The producing team includes Sharon Custers and Gemma Robertson. The Access and Inclusion Officer for the project is Eliza Hull.

The project’s Access and Inclusion Panel was brought in prior to the first creative developments to provide advice on issues relating to access and inclusion for audience and for creative staff.

Across a series of Creative Developments in the second half of 2021, the key members of the team developed the physical spaces and augmented reality content and activities in parallel. Multiple drafts of models and plans were constructed physically in miniature scale, and digitally – both in scale drawings and in ‘full scale’ using Virtual Reality to allow the artists to ‘walk through’ the proposed designs.

Concepts for the activities the audience would engage in using Augmented Reality were analysed and developed, with digital prototypes ready to be developed and tested in the first half of 2022.


Equity Action Plan

Throughout 2020 and 2021, Arena’s Co-CEOs were enrolled in the Fairplay program funded by Creative Victoria.

This intensive program resulted in Arena developing an Equity Action Plan –a roadmap towards increasing equity for all people at Arena.

Arena Theatre Company is committed to ensuring that people from all backgrounds can be an active part of Arena, as artists, staff and audience members.

As a theatre company we aim to represent our diverse community, and make sure that we are accessible and inclusive of all.

Key goals of the plan include:

1. Working with First Nations, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, LGBTQIA+ and Disabled communities is part of the company’s ongoing practice.

2. To have diverse representation on the board

3. To implement effective policies to recruit diverse staff into the company.

4. Arena’s projects with CALD communities follow embedded community engagement principles and are culturally safe.

5. Arena has a comprehensive data collection system in place to help understand levels of participation of diverse children and young people.

6. Create partnerships and pathways for First Nations young people to engage with Arena.

7. There is a clear pathway by which people from diverse backgrounds can secure a significant leadership role within the Company.

8. Arena’s artists and creative staff are reflective of the Australian Population

9. Develop media partnerships with media outlets that target diverse communities of children and their families.

20 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021
we are accessible and inclusive for all

Board members

Anne Henshall (CHAIR)

Anne has worked in Performing Arts Marketing and Event Management with Bendigo Venues & Events, the Bendigo Easter Festival and Bendigo Writers Festival for over 11 years. Previously a Board Member of Varietythe Children’s Charity Victorian Tent and the Bendigo Trust, Anne was also the creator of the Bendigo Kids Character Carnival, one of the Executive Production team on NED - A New Australian Musical that premiered at the opening of Ulumbarra Theatre and also produced a musical as part of a health promotion project for Bendigo Community Health. Anne and her husband Paul have two daughters Ellen and Georgey who are both heavily involved in community and professional performance and as a family they have performed together in numerous dramas and musicals with local Bendigo community theatre groups. Anne has a passion for performing arts and the very real benefits to young people’s health and wellbeing whether through participation, performance or as part of an audience.

Jon Anstey

Jon has had an extensive career in law, finance and strategy both overseas and in Australia. He has previously worked for the United Nations in Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan. Most recently Jon was the Executive General Manager of Insight and Innovation at Coliban Water. Jon is passionate about the community and is currently serving on the boards of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Castlemaine District Community Health and Lot 19 Galley Art Collective to name just a few.

Janice Muller

Janice is a theatre director based in Newstead, Victoria. In 2016 she was Director in Residence at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne. Her most recent credits include the world premiere of Ned, composer Luke Styles/ libretto Peter Goldsworthy (Perth Festival), co-adaptor with Osamah Sami and director Good Muslim Boy, (Malthouse Theatre, Queensland Theatre) and the Australian premiere of Revolt She Said. Revolt Again by Alice Birch (Malthouse Theatre).

She has directed works for a range of independent and mainstream companies including ATYP, UTP, Sydney Festival, Belvoir, Carriageworks, Sydney Chamber Opera and the Castlemaine State Festival. Her work has been nominated for Sydney Theatre and Greenroom awards and The Tribe won the 2016 FBI SMAC award for Best on Stage.

Janice has received various scholarships and awards including the inaugural Playwriting Australia Dramaturgy Fellowship in 2006, the VCA’s Keith & Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Scholarship in 2003 and in a scholarship to attend the Royal Court Thaetre’s international residency program in 2001. She is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, the University of New South Wales and AFTRS. She has previously worked as a radio journalist, news reader, media advisor and publicist.

22 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021

Liahn Nortje

Liahn is currently the Chief Finance Officer at VicScreen, supporting the film, television and digital games sectors of Victoria and has oversight of all financial, operational, risk management and governance requirements as the Head of Corporate Services. Previously, he has held various senior finance and leadership roles within the screen, higher education and hospitality industries. Liahn is a member of CPA Australia and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK).

Sandra Willis

Sandra is a leading arts sector executive with extensive experience of the strategic leadership of arts organisations. She is currently General Manager of The Lyceum Club Melbourne, the world’s busiest Lyceum Club providing artistic, intellectual, social and professional enrichment. Previously she was Executive Director of Opera Queensland, leading the company through a significant turn around and the renewal of one of Australia’s Major Performing Arts Companies.

A graduate of NIDA she has held various senior roles including Executive Producer, Touring and Outreach at Opera Australia, General Manager Oz Opera, Company Manager of Bell Shakespeare and Company Manager of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical. She has served as a partner of the Opera Conference, Branch Council member for the MEAA, Council Member for the Performing Arts Touring Alliance, Trustee of the Opera Australia Benevolent Fund and was a member of the Regional and Touring Arts Programs Expert Assessment Panel for the Office of the Arts, Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Tom Wolff

Tom is currently a lawyer with O’Farrell Robertson McMahon, which he joined after moving to Bendigo in 2013. He practices in all aspects of family law. Since moving to Bendigo, Tom has been an active and engaged member of local professional and cultural communities, having spent time as Chairperson and committee member of the Star Cinema Bendigo and as President of the Bendigo Law Association.

Tom is also a musician and composer having performed and composed music for productions programmed in the Adelaide and Melbourne Fringe Festivals, Castlemaine Writers Festival among others. An alum of the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Monash University Student Theatre, he is proud to continue an involvement in the performing arts as a Director of Arena Theatre Company.



Christian leavesley // Artistic Director and co-CEO

Christian Leavesley is the Artistic Director of Arena Theatre Company. He studied theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, Monash University and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Before joining Arena Christian co-founded multi-award winning company Uncle Semolina (& friends), whose works such as Gilgamesh, Ticky Tacky and OT were known for their innovative use of playing space and theatrical form. Leavesley’s work has appeared in festivals and venues across Australia, and internationally in Asia, North America and Europe. Leavesley’s works for Arena include Starchaser, Marlin, Marlin Expedition, Point of View, The Sleepover, Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon, Trapper and Air Race.

Sharon Custers // Executive Director and co-CEO

Sharon has more than 20 years’ experience in the performing arts industry, including roles with Sydney Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil.

She recently headed up Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre (BREC) as their Executive Director, leading them to success in receiving the Drover award for Australian Performing Arts Centre of the Year 2017. At BREC, Sharon developed and implemented a new strategic vision for the organisation with a focus on youth and education and capacity building for local artists. This included the development of a Youth Performance Company in partnership with Artistic Director, Kathryn Osbourne of The Last Great Hunt.


Jolyon James // Artistic Associate

Gemma Robertson // Producer

Eliza Hull // Artistic Associate, Access and Inclusion

David Gagliardi // Development Manager

Gayle McClure // Administration Coordinator

Wendy Buchan // Accountant

24 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021


We’d like to acknowledge our significant donors and supporters. With your support, we’ve not only made it through one of the most challenging years the company has faced, but we’ve created some amazing works too.

The support of Creative Partnerships Australia with $50,000 in matched funding inspired philanthropic support from hundreds of old and new donors, so we thank them for investing in Arena. We thank the Besen Foundation and the Ulumbarra Foundation who supported the company generously once again.

Government funding came in many shapes and forms in 2021; Arena’s key projects attracted support from the Federal Government’s RISE Fund, the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, The City of Greater Bendigo and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Thank you to all our funding partners.

Special thanks to these significant supporters for their donations:

Carol Holsworth

Cynthia Holsworth

Gary & Lyndal McClure

Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise

Eliza Hull

Jacinta Jackson

Ashley Thomson

Tom & Felicity Wolff

Sandra Willis

Anne Henshall

Liahn Nortje

Marylou Verberne

Penelope Bartlau

Dawn Colbourne

Rod Fyffe

Liz Grainger

Ben Grant

Herbert & Margaret Hermans

Brian Higazi

Catherine Jones

Carolyn Stanford

Richard Stuart


Creating extraordinary experiences for young people

26 Arena Theatre Co Annual Report 2021
school workshop. Opposite page: Heart VR development screen capture and workshop group.
208 Strickland Road Strathdale VIC 3550
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.