Australia is a pretty magnificent country. The food. The sunshine. The beer. Okay, it’s a spectacular country. I was lucky enough to travel to south Australia in 2012 whilst producing a couple of shows that featured in the Adelaide Fringe – supported by our very own British theatre impresario, Guy Masterson. The shows we were performing were a little unusual and not something that had been seen much in Oz. We were warned that the audiences might not respond quite as we’d hoped. Whoever warned us of that – I’m not pointing fingers – couldn’t have been more wrong; the audiences were warmer and more receptive than we could have dreamed. After an incredible four weeks I knew that it was somewhere I wanted to return to again and again. But how to get all the way to Australia off your own back? Not impossible if you have a decent trust fund. I don’t have any sort of trust fund. So I started to do some research on the kind of funding that might exist to help send someone around the world.
The Artists’ International Development Fund is something that, when explained to someone else, generally elicits a reaction of disbelief. The idea is simple (and explained rather well by the project’s title): to fund the international development of an artist. The scheme is jointly run by Arts Council England and the British Council – all the details can be found here. A number of people asked how there can be money to send people off round the world during our current financial crisis. The long and short of it really comes down to creating links for British art to be shared around the world and for art from around the world to be brought to our little island – a pretty noble cause.
I realised the importance of finding more outlets for the work we create in the UK. Once you’ve made a show, you want it to run for as long as possible and to be seen by as many people as possible. Problem is, Australia is a long way from England. It’s easy enough to get a meeting in a UK theatre (at worst you might have to fork out for a train fare), but to head Down Under to talk to a theatre about your work can be pretty expensive, not to mention time consuming. The few weeks that the AIDF awarded me in Australia were invaluable – allowing conversations to begin which will, I hope, lead to the continuation of a UK/Oz relationship for me as a theatre-maker and for my company.
Now, with great thanks to ACE and the British Council, I can think about developing shows on an international scale. My new project, The Bunker Trilogy, will open at the Edinburgh Fringe, transfer to Southwark Playhouse in London and then fly across the world to the Adelaide Fringe in Australia. And as I mentioned, Australia is pretty fantastic.