Dear members and supporters,
Last week, The Blue Room Theatre wished Julian Hobba, our Executive Director of three years, goodbye. Julian has driven across the Nullarbor and arrived safely in Adelaide and will be taking two weeks rest, in quarantine, before taking up his role as the new Executive Director of the State Theatre Company of South Australia. The board and staff thank Julian for his service as our ED and congratulate him on this exciting new appointment.
The Blue Room Theatre board has appointed me to act in the role of Executive Director while the organisation recruits a permanent replacement by 30 June. As a theatre maker, director and producer who has built my career in Perth through the support of The Blue Room Theatre, I am pleased to bring my skills and experience to this role and to help guide the organisation through this period of transition.
So, what’s happening with The Blue Room Theatre?
With the ongoing challenges of cancellations and changes to our program as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are focused on reviewing all our current 2020 activities, and we are consulting with our stakeholders on both the short and long term impacts of the disruptions on our organisation and the independent performance community that we support.
Most of you will be aware that only three weeks ago, we also received news that The Blue Room Theatre would not have its federal four-year funding continued past 2021. The funding support for project artists and small to medium companies has been declining over the past seven years, and our application was unsuccessful based on there simply not being enough federal funding available to adequately support the national arts ecology. Along with many other national unsuccessful organisations we have fallen into the category of ‘unfunded excellence’ in this case.
We’d like to thank all of those who have reached out to offer their support and words of kindness in this disruptive and difficult time for the organisation.
We want you to know that, although the funding cuts, which amounts to approximately 15% of our current annual turnover, will mean that The Blue Room will have to do some things differently in the future, that we will be ok. We will continue to be a supportive and welcoming hub for local performance makers and professionals, emerging and experienced artists and the audiences that engage with our productions and make our building come alive.
We are continuing to redesign our 2020 program plans and we are excited to soon release new development opportunities to support independent artists during this time. We will continue with our transformation project plans to renovate the bar and can’t wait to enjoy spending time in conversation and good company again soon.
Over the coming months, and with input from our permanent Executive Director, we will be taking time to review our plans and work on what our program will look like for 2021 and beyond. We will be reaching out to all our members to ask them what they would like to see from us now and in the future and to find out what is most important to you all.
As you can see, there is much to do over the coming six months. At its meeting last week, the board decided to apply for a further extension to hold our AGM later this year in order to allow us time to review our future plans, deal with the Covid-19 crisis and settle in a permanent Executive Director. To help us with our future planning, we have co-opted two new board members until the AGM , both with significant industry experience.
Please welcome Monica Kane (Chief Executive Officer, of Community Arts Network) and Zainab Syed (Producer at Performing Lines WA). We will be sending out a separate notice to members shortly with more details of these new appointments and to confirm the postponement of the AGM.
So, what can you do to help?
If you get a survey from us (or a phone call from Sally!) and can give some time to tell us how you’re going and share what you value most about The Blue Room Theatre, please do. Renew your memberships and stay engaged with us and new opportunities for artists and audiences as they are released.
If you want to support artists in hardship at this time (or are an artist who needs support), you can check out the Artist Relief Fund WA. If you want to support The Blue Room Theatre, you can make an EOFY donation by clicking here.
Give your support to industry and community campaigns for increased funding to the arts in Australia. There has never been a better time to recognise the value of arts and culture to our community. Why not write to your local Member of Parliament or the Federal/State Minister for the Arts to let them know the value of The Blue Room Theatre and how we support you.
Thanks to everyone who has stayed engaged with us and joined in support of our season artists as part of our digital launch last week. We look forward to continuing to consult and engage with you, and to support our vibrant independent artistic community to create their work and overcome the current challenges of this time.
Stay well and stay safe,
Acting Executive Director
Image: Rebecca Mansell