From The Executive Producer: Groundslog

Is it just me or do we keep looking back on 2020 to compare our responses, processes, and various psychological states with today’s? It’s not quite Groundhog Day because it doesn’t carry the same novelty or adrenalised reactivity. It is just hard slog.

We’ve seen many casualties in the last three months: THE RABBLE’s new work YES, due to open at Arts House Melbourne, was postponed for the third time. WA’s Sensorium made it to South Australia but couldn’t get to Victoria, ACT or Hobart. Amrita’s Hepi’s new work RINSE at Liveworks, Betty Grumble’s Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t at Brisbane Festival and VIVID, Tasmanian and NSW duo Pony Express’s Epoch Wars, the development of Qld-based Liesel Zink’s Us and All of This – was to unite artists from Brisbane and Victoria. Our artist residency took place in the Northern Territory but without our NSW-based mentor… We’ve all taken a big hit.

In many ways, this snapshot of woe reveals just how much we move artists around the country, how interconnected and embedded the performing arts are in the life of Australians everywhere. When it stops it has a huge impact but when it goes, it’s really something.

At APAX I facilitated a discussion after the CEO of A New Approach, Kate Fielding gave her excellent keynote. She shared some research that I found more hopeful than anything I’ve heard in a while. She and her team conducted a series of focus groups in the first six months of this year, with young people (18 to 29 years old) who were swing or undecided voters, from low and middle income households, and living in regional or outer suburban locations. These future voters resoundingly expressed the centrality of the arts in their lives and the desire to have access to relevant cultural experiences, whether it be conventionally thought of as high or low art – and that a diversity of offer is extremely important to them. It’s a real myth buster when it comes to the arts’ alleged elitism and limited social benefits.

This complex network of activity that unites festivals, local presenters, community participation, cross-border collaboration is what delivers those experiences for people. It’s an ecosystem that organisations like Performing Lines strive to uphold and can’t be extricated from people’s lives.

All in all, we’re staying buoyant, but are deeply grateful for the friendship of our group of dedicated donors, and our partners whose collegiality has been critical – Arts Centre Melbourne, Asia TOPA, CAIAF, Arts House, our HYPERLOCAL network in Victoria, our Regional Partners Consortium, New Annual and so many more, our fellow Producers all over the country.

We have also been reflecting on the people that got us to where we are, and are proud to be honouring the inimitable Wendy Blacklock and Bill Harris as Patrons of Performing Lines. “Standing on the shoulders of giants” takes on a special meaning with Wendy Blacklock. Wendy is a giant and though it’s a daunting view from where I sit, it’s one that I feel grateful for every day. One of Wendy’s great decisions was to engage Bill Harris, who has served the company as Production Manager, Producer, Board Member and until recently Chair. Few people know the company from as many angles as Bill and this speaks to his passion for it. Performing Lines has Powerhouse DNA, strong bones and a constitution that has readied it for resilience, adaptability and most importantly, the realisation of artistic ambition, so valuable to our cultural identity.

And looking to the future, we’re pleased to announce Alice Hatton as our new, dedicated Senior Producer NSW.

Marion Potts | Executive Producer

Image from Amrita Hepi’s Rinse

Design: Matt Sav
Original photo: Gregory Lorenzutti

In everything we do, we acknowledge that we live on Aboriginal land and constantly learn from the wisdom of First Peoples.

Where we are and the history that precedes us informs how we work and how we move forward.