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On the RISE: $1m Federal funding to get La Boite growing again

Culture

Hot on the heels of unveiling details of its 2021 season, Queensland’s La Boite Theatre has announced it will employ an artist company of 22 professional actors and theatre-makers following its successful application for a share of the Federal Government’s $75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund.

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La Boite has received almost $1 million in funding from the RISE fund – part of the Morrison Government’s $250 million arts survival package announced in June – which will significantly increase the company’s output and enable it to further its commitment to diversity, access and inclusion.

La Boite executive director and incoming chief executive Zohar Spatz said the funding would enable the establishment of the La Boite Artist Company and employment of 22 handpicked artists, and build on the company’s history of resilience and ingenuity.

Spatz said La Boite was prioritising innovation and sector sustainability with the establishment of the La Boite Artist Company and the funding would help provide security and stability to vulnerable industry workers and help it fulfill its aspirations of becoming Australia’s most diverse theatre company.

“Diverse in age and experience, and inclusive of First Nations, culturally and linguistically diverse and LGBTQI+ artists and makers, the La Boite Artist Company will ensure that representation, relevance and transformation remain at the forefront,” Spatz said.

“Independents are the most vulnerable within the existing arts sector and we have a responsibility to champion and support our freelance artists and theatre-makers by providing opportunities for employment in 2021 and beyond.”

It was a sentiment echoed by La Boite’s chair Julian Myers.

“As Australia’s oldest and boldest continuously running professional theatre company, La Boite’s 96-year history is hallmarked by reinvention and rebirth,” Myers said.

La Boite chair Julian Myers, Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans and La Boite executive director Zohar Spatz. (Photo: Markus Ravik)

“A theatre company simply cannot survive through the ages without responding and adapting to the times, and this revolutionary, future-focused model recognises the critical role we play in sustaining our local and national arts ecosystem.

“Embedding the city’s most exciting artists and makers at the heart of the company will ensure La Boite reaches its 100th anniversary in 2025 more vibrant and vital than ever.”

The program will engage 12 actors, four designers, three directors, two writers-in-residence and a dramaturg for an 18-month period, with the La Boite Artist Company embedded into the organisation across its mainstage season, artist development programs, and youth and education offerings across 2021 and 2022.

Federal Member for Brisbane Trevor Evans said a strong and thriving creative and cultural sector was vital in helping to rebuild the economy following the challenges that have arisen from COVID-19.

Evans said the arts and entertainment sector in Brisbane had been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and he had fought to ensure the city’s arts and cultural scene received appropriate support from the fund.

“The arts and entertainment sector in Brisbane has been among the hardest hit by this global crisis,” Evans said. “I have fought hard to ensure Brisbane’s rich and vibrant arts scene receives appropriate support from the Federal Government.

“So it is pleasing to see multiple recipients here in Brisbane receive this new funding, including the highly regarded La Boite Theatre, to help them continue to provide a creative outlet for so many of Brisbane’s emerging and established artists and the enjoyment of their audiences.”

“This commitment to local artists and companies in Brisbane, as well as the subsequent increase in local jobs and strengthened economy as live performance events and venues are reactivated, will contribute significantly to our comeback following the impacts of the pandemic.”

In addition to today’s funding announcement and the establishment of the La Boite Artist Company, the company has announced the appointment three new board members – Brisbane Catholic Education’s Balveen Ajimal, Little Red Company and Aruga co-director Adam Brunes and former artistic director of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts Company Nadine McDonald-Dowd – this month.

The composition of the 22-strong La Boite Artist Company will be announced early next year. For more information about La Boite and its 2021 program, visit laboite.com.au

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