News from Arts Out West – written by Maryanne Jacques.
In announcing their 2014 seasons our region’s major performing arts centres, Orange Civic Theatre (OCT) and Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (BMEC), were also announcing their place in the Australian performing arts scene.
In the NSW Central West being regionally based is no barrier to seeing the highest quality performing arts. The two venues are able to source a sophisticated program across theatre, dance and music. In 2014 we’ll have access to more than 40 programmed productions in addition to scores more touring entertainers and a range of workshop and participation opportunities for the community.
“We are experiencing an exciting period of change in the national and local performing arts landscape,” said BMEC manager Stephen Champion. “Not only are more and more high quality artists seeking to tour regionally and the tours have become more viable as new centres open, there is also an increasing shift towards participation by community members.”
Now in its 38th year, Orange Civic Theatre strives for a broad and stimulating range of cultural expression, entertainment and educational opportunities.
“OCT’s 2014 season includes award winning international artists, some of the finest national performers and two local productions,” said Michelle Pearce, Orange’s manager of performing arts and venues.
Workshops and community participation are a key feature of the 2014 programs. Of the shows at BMEC, 14 will include extension activities, from workshops with performers or directors to an audio-visual installation at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery that accompanies the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s tour (show: Tuesday May 20; exhibition: March 21-April 13).
Illuminart’s If there was a colour darker than black (Bathurst, June 2-7) will include a month-long youth focussed residency to develop new material for the site-specific performance. OCT offers an entire program of 12 shows for families and schools, including accompanying teachers’ notes and resources.
“Our 2014 program aims to entertain by challenging thinking; fascinating; inspiring creativity; developing skills; encouraging engagement; educating; and enchanting the young… and the young at heart,” Michelle Pearce said.
BMEC has recently been acknowledged for its leadership in the Australian performing arts sector through PowerPAC, a report into the role that regional performing arts centres can play as hubs of performing arts development. The report, commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA), identified BMEC’s Local Stages Program as a national example of best practice.
The BMEC Local Stages program, running since 2007, aims to develop local work and engage the community in the theatre’s activities.
The program has now secured three-year funding from the Australia Council for the Arts for the second time (a rare feat for a regional venue) in addition to state funds from Arts NSW and significant support from Bathurst Regional Council.
Other programs continue to grow and overlap with the annual season including the 5th biennial Catapult Festival of youth circus and physical theatre (March 2014), the two-year youth focussed Smashed Arts program which runs to the end of June and the Aboriginal Performing Arts Program.
Far more than just a venue for hire these local council owned venues are also significant players in regional development.
“BMEC is a substantial contributor to the lifestyle and liveability of Bathurst,” Bathurst Mayor Gary Rush said.
“This contribution, and indeed that of all cultural facilities, is becoming more and more recognised by all levels of government. The added opportunities cultural activities provide are being measured by competitive advantage, particularly as regional communities strive to attract new residents and business.”
“BMEC is much more than an ‘entertainment centre’. It is a well resourced performing arts facility where established and emerging artists challenge us with the stimulation and nourishment that and awareness of our cultural identity provides.”
Orange Civic Theatre’s Michelle Peace said culture makes places distinctive, engendering pride in the local community.
“It also makes a practical contribution in terms of sustainability, providing employment, encouraging learning and inspiring people to adopt creative and active lifestyles.”
ON STAGE IN 2014
ON STAGE IN 2014
ON STAGE IN 2014
Companies bringing shows include:
The Australian Chamber Orchestra (Bathurst May 20);
Circa (with S, Bathurst April 10, Orange June 4),
Force Majeure and Belvoir (Food, Bathurst July 25-26, Orange July 23),
Melbourne Ballet Company (Bathurst July12),
Sydney Dance Company (Bathurst August 8, Orange August 9),
Australian Opera’s touring arm OzOpera (The Magic Flute, Bathurst August 14, Orange August 12),
Bell Shakespeare (Henry V, Bathurst September 16, Orange September 11-13),
The Flying Fruit Fly Circus (Orange October 1),
Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Orange November 15),
and the Chooky Dancers from the Northern Territory (Orange May 22)
David Williamson’sWhen Dad Married Fury (Orange March 1), Vanessa Bates’ The Magic Hour (Bathurst July 1-2), WW1 play The Girls in Grey (Orange May 31) and a stage version of George Orwell’s 1984 (Orange April 10-11).
There’s musicians Rachel Beck (Bathurst March 19-20), Canadian pianist Avan Yu (Bathurst March 26), Lior (Orange March 14), The Glen Miller Orchestra (Orange May 27), Tom Burlinson (Frank: A Life in Song, Orange June 13) and from the Seychelles, Grace Barbe (Bathurst September 23).
The country’s top children’s theatre specialists Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Imaginary Theatre, Patch Theatre Company and Monkey Baa will all bring shows too.
BMEC and OCT are founding members of the Roadworks program that brings more challenging or contemporary works to regional areas. 2014 sees the launch of Blak Lines, a new national consortium dedicated to touring the best contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander work. Touring works through these programs include Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui (Orange April 4,Bathurst April 2), dance work Lake (Orange, May 3) and Sons & Mothers (Orange September 24, Bathurst September 27).
Local programming includes the Macquarie Philharmonia (Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Bathurst July 5), Orange Theatre Company’s Sussical the Musical (Orange October 17-25) and Chicago (May 9-17) and Local Stages produced Oh My God I’ve Been Kidnapped and I Hate What I’m Wearing The Musical (Bathurst May 15-17).