The latest figures released by the Australia Council show that the touring reach of Australia’s major performing arts companies continues to grow steadily.
In 2016, 4.1 million people attended a performance, school activity or workshop conducted by an MPA company, the equivalent to around 17% of Australians. Over half a million school children and teachers attended education activities for schools, of which close to 147,000 were from regional and remote Australia.
Total audience numbers have been driven up by growth in theatre, dance and orchestral musicactivities, with residents of Queensland experiencing the biggest growth (38%) in MPA activity in the last 5 years.While there are no MPAs based in the Northern Territory, in 2016 over 3,700 school children the federal electorate of Lingiari a participated in programme offered by Musica Viva, The Australian Ballet, Bangarra, Sydney Dance Company or Bell Shakespeare.
The figures also highlight a change in the type of activities that the MPAs are offering in their touring programs. The most marked growth has been in the presentation of workshops, classes and seminars, an area which has grown by over 300%, with over 100,000 participants in programs delivered in 2016.
Theatre is the art form in which the expansion of workshops is strongest with an increase from 4,467 programs in 2012 to a staggering 22,654 in 2016.
Bell Shakespeare deliver student and teacher workshops around the county. Associate Director James Evans said,“Programs like our Regional Teacher Mentorship, where we build ongoing relationships with English and Drama teachers from around Australia, have the potential to connect with, and affect the learning of thousands of students. By teaching the teachers we can grow our engagement with regional Australia exponentially.”
Tim Matthies, Director of Artist Development for Musica Viva who run an extensive program of workshops nationally said, “Whether as part of our Musica Viva In Schools and CountryWide programs that tour regionally or the national Masterclasses program, workshops provide an opportunity to extend learning around a live performance, particularly for older students. The impact on young musicians being given expert advice and support from leading Australian and international artists can be life-changing and open up future pathways and opportunities.
“In addition, our regional community workshops, such as in Orange (NSW) or in Mt Isa (QLD), allow us to more deeply embed music in that community. For example, by getting a family involved in what their children are learning at school, conversations and shared experiences are generated.”
A summary of performance, schools programs and workshops and seminars reach is contained in the MPA Interactive Touring Map, searchable by state, electorate and art form.
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