Like a baseball player calling his shot, Sam Strong stepped up to the plate of the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) Artistic Directorial-ship in 2015 with a clear vision for the beloved state theatre company: to lead the charge in fostering national collaboration, to challenge interstate rivalries and the notion of ‘owning’ talent as well as continue outgoing Wesley Enoch’s stellar work in touring Queensland shows, increasing indigenous programming, and creating opportunities for young talent.
Strong wasted no time in setting the ground-work for his vision by collecting an eclectic and diverse group of practitioners to form the new National Artistic Team charged with keeping their focus on the creative pulse across Australia’s cities. Open auditions in March, held collaboratively with La Boite was a massive first-time initiative that heralded a new era for the local theatre scene (not to mention audiences who tend see the same faces year-in-year-out) and more recently with the announcement of his first season – the 2017 catalogue – Strong has also announced a name change and a new logo. Dropping the word “Company”, Queensland Theatre (QT), apart from aligning with its web address, speaks of its commitment to be inclusive and representative of the whole of Queensland, a state which admittedly is divided by internal borders as well state demarcations.
“We believe that a culture will only make great art if we think about the whole as well as the parts”, says Strong.
Hot on the heels of the announcement of the 2017 season and the predictable mixed reaction to the rebrand, some impressive news has just been released; with season ticket sales already breaking records for next year, Strong has been able to create an exciting opportunity. A media release has outlined the new Independent Artists @ QT initiative, as well as celebrated the news that QT has also tripled opportunities for Queensland artists to perform in other state theatres.
The centrepiece of the Independent Artists @ QT scheme is an eight-week residency (and a ten-thousand-dollar cash contribution) where independent artists can create a production and take the entirety of their box office (less fees). Resources such as access to a dramaturg are also included in the proposal.
QT are also extending their hand to Queensland artists by way of a ticket offering: “90 Queensland artists can see all 9 shows in our 2017 Season for $90”.
See the Artist Subscription Initiative on the website for more information.
In an atmosphere where Government instability has caused fluctuating financial assistance to the arts year-on-year it is essential that our theatre organisations strive to remain independent and relevant in order to achieve commercial success and allow for reinvestment in the industry. The challenge will always be that the community of artists and audiences alike expect them to push hard on boundaries while also remaining familiar and safe – we are a nostalgic lot. Sam Strong has often mused on the rivalries between state theatre makers and having come from successful involvement in both the Sydney and Melbourne industries (rivals from way back), perhaps Queensland is the best place for him to take on the nation and form a new, dynamic way of furthering careers and delighting audiences around the country. The possibilities are hugely exciting and so-far, so-good for Strong Leadership.
Information on Independent Artists @ Queensland Theatre can be found at queenslandtheatre.com.au
Applications for the 8 weeks in a theatre and resources are due Friday 18 November and decisions will be announced on Friday 16 December.