Theatr Iolo - Australia research trip - 2013

Theatr Iolo

Theatr Iolo received support to undertake a research and development visit to Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Arts Centre, Australia.

Following the visit John Williams reported:

"In September 2013, I visited Australia as the guest of Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne to discuss possible touring opportunities for Theatr Iolo’s Adventures in the Skin Trade in 2014. This project was initiated following a meeting with Sydney Opera House’s (SOH) Head of Families and Young People, Bridgette van Leuven, at the Imagine Children’s Festival in Edinburgh in May 2013.

As part of my trip, I was able to meet with the team at SOH and gained an understanding of the organisation’s internal complexities. I was also able to meet the Chief Executive and senior management team, and talk about Theatr Iolo and Welsh theatre. I was invited to view a demonstration of SOH’s digital engagement programme, a workshop streamed to high school students in Perth, and was able to see a variety of Australian theatre pieces for young audiences across the subsidised and commercial sectors.

In Melbourne, I met with Arts Centre Melbourne’s Producer, Emer Harrington and its Chief Executive, Judith Isherwood. I also made connections with the Melbourne Welsh Society and Church. Following a return to Sydney, I met with the Director of the British Council in Australia.

Since the trip, our negotiations have continued via email and Skype, but the time difference can disrupt their flow (it is currently eleven hours difference). Being able to meet face-to-face and establish relationships has helped immeasurably in developing our relationship with these strategically important and commercially lucrative partners.

I gained an understanding of the workings of each organisation and the politics involved in organising a tour. I also developed strong relationships with key people in each of the organisations. Following the tour, I have been able to book a provisional tour for our production of Adventures in the Skin Trade in 2015 to Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. As part of our blossoming relationship they will now endeavour to book a wider tour of Australia and New Zealand on our behalf. Our collective aim is that this will be the start of a regular relationship which it appears may be financially profitable for all parties. This would not have been possible without the physical trip.

Theatr Iolo will also be an international partner in SOH’s Digital Engagement progamme and we aim to begin streaming workshops from Cardiff to Sydney in 2014 (from South Wales to New South Wales).

I was invited to attend the launch of SOH’s young people programme for teachers, and was able to talk to many of them about their appetite for the arts. In addition, I felt there was a lot to be learned from how the SOH engages with its teachers and schools, which we are aiming to put into practice in Theatr Iolo for our new season in 2014."

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