NSW Performing Arts Companies Raise The Curtain On Direct Campaign To Audiences Starting this Friday 17 June and continuing until the federal election, every theatre company in NSW and many of the state’s major venues will campaign directly to audiences to get government funding cuts restored to the Australia Council for the Arts, as part of a national campaign aimed at reversing cuts.

Companies campaigning directly to audiences include Sydney Theatre Company, Hot House, Belvoir Theatre, Bell Shakespeare, Shopfront, Urban Theatre Projects and The Ensemble.

The campaign has the support of many of the industry’s most respected artists. Actor Hugo Weaving said: “It’s vital theatre companies communicate the value of Australian arts to their audiences ahead of the federal election, so that the future remains bright for the whole arts sector. I stand with the arts and request the recent devastating cuts be reversed.”

The campaign message will be delivered to more than 80,000 theatre-goers at the curtain call of every single performance by these companies and more between now and the election.

At the conclusion of every show, performers will address the audience about the impact of the funding cuts, asking them to ‘show our politicians what the arts mean to you – no matter what party you support’. Speaking in support of the campaign, Michael Lynch CBE AM said “Governments must address the damage they have done to the arts sector, whoever wins the election. Labor and the Greens have attempted to address the issues through their recent policy pronouncements. The ball is in your court, Mr. Turnbull.”

The message to audiences will refer to the 1,300 jobs lost due to funding cuts across Australia, and the fact that some companies may be forced to shut their doors forever. Actor and Director Robyn Nevin AM, who is currently performing at Roslyn Packer Theatre said: “I am happy to have the opportunity to speak directly to our audiences, to encourage them to express their understanding of the value of the Arts to our politicians as we approach the election. I stand with the arts and I am confident our audiences will stand with us.”

Performers and venue staff from each company will distribute #IStandWithTheArts cards addressed to local MPs for audiences to sign and address. These cards will be sent by the theatre companies to the relevant local MPs. An e-campaign will be launched with updates on the dedicated website www.istandwiththearts.com

The working group of NSW theatre companies behind the campaign includes independent, small to medium and Major Performing Arts (MPA) companies, as well as Theatre Network NSW (TNN), the peak body for theatre companies in NSW.

With no sign of changes to the devastating funding cuts, theatre companies are turning to their audiences to show politicians how much the arts mean to the community. The campaign address is scripted by Australian playwright and actor Kate Mulvany, and notes that it is our audiences who “take part in the beautiful, ancient art of sharing stories” and have their own part to play in the future of the arts in Australia.

“This strong and unified request from the theatre and associated arts sectors in NSW to their diverse audiences has emerged from a sense of hopelessness in the arts but also an overwhelming urge to change that”, says Jane Kreis, TNN Director. “Despite continuing requests by the sector and the huge value of the arts to Australian lives, there is little to no tangible recognition of that value in existing government policy and vision.”