​Reaching out to the regions

​Reaching out to the regions

It’s no surprise that regional touring is deeply embedded in the DNA of Sydney Dance Company, Circus Oz, Bangarra and Bell Shakespeare; that Musica Viva has deep connections with regional schools in addition to their regional performances; or that the ACO Collective (formerly known as ACO2) delivers regional touring and education programs Australia-wide. But are you aware of just how much is happening in the further flung regions of our country?

Regular regional arts engagement is generated by state theatre companies and orchestras, as well as our national opera and ballet companies. For example, Queensland Ballet is not only touring across its state, it’s now branching out with education programs interstate, while Black Swan State Theatre Company, WAO and WASO reach their regions through touring and special regional live broadcasts.

For example:

Western Australia

Since 2010, WAO has broadcast City of Perth’s Opera in the Park to regional venues, and Black Swan State Theatre Company has broadcast one mainstage production each year. WASO entertains remote audiences with orchestral live performances through WASO webcast, a dynamic livestream that takes audiences behind the scenes for interviews with soloists, conductors and the WASO musicians and staff. Last month, a new grant from Lotterywest enabled the West Australian Ballet’s Access program to expand from a predominantly metropolitan focus to include a more comprehensive outlook within regional WA.

South Australia

STCSA collaborates with other state theatre companies to build longer show runs and opportunities for South Australian actors and creatives to share their talents beyond Adelaide — strengthening the state’s creative reputation, and growing professional opportunities.

Tasmania

TSO is our only regionally based orchestra. It gives more than 80 concerts annually, including seasons in Hobart and Launceston, and appearances in other Tasmanian regional centres. Mini TSO, a scaled-down version of the full orchestra, travels throughout the state performing for schoolchildren.

Orchestral manoeuvres

Every year, the QSO spends a significant amount of time on the road. In addition to the full orchestra’s regional performances, the musicians hold a range of small ensemble performances and educational events.This month, Queensland Symphony Orchestra tours to Toowoomba with plans to visit the Gold Coast, Townsville and Redlands later this year.

Since 2015, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra has reactivated its regional tours, visiting Mt Gambier and Whyalla and instituting its Out-of-the-CBD series, which focuses on outer metropolitan centres, reflecting a commitment to take orchestral music to various South Australian communities.

Last month, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra toured Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange, while the Australian Symphony Orchestra’s regional engagement program took them to Mt Gambier to help celebrate the 30th year of Generation Jazz. This unique annual event attracts the jazz legends of today and the stars of tomorrow in a monster gathering of 4400 of Australia’s most talented musicians, along with a growing list of global artists.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra also plays beyond its city limits. The Shepparton performances of a selection of Tchaikovsky’s works planned for August will be a calendar highlight of the season.

Orchestra Victoria's regional programs include festivals, the On the mOVe! education program, chamber music performances, ‘pop-up’ performances, brass ensembles and full orchestral concerts.

CountryWide — Musica Viva’s innovative regional touring program — partners with performing arts centres, volunteer music societies and conservatoria to deliver a range of exceptional music experiences to thousands of regional Australians each year.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra collective combines musicians of the ACO with Australia’s most talented young professional musicians at the outset of their careers, creating an orchestra with a fresh, energetic performance style. ACO Collective will celebrate its 10th anniversary touring regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Theatrical performances

Bell Shakespeare tour their mainstage shows to many regional centres throughout the year. To prepare students for Bell’s national, mainstage tour, The Players, comprising two companies of four performers each, will visit regional venues ahead of the production to present complementary, practical workshops across Victoria, West Australia, Tasmania this month, with New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory slated for August and September. This year, 30 regional teachers will take part in the regional teacher mentorship program — a fully funded, year-long mentorship with Bell Shakespeare.

Queensland Theatre aims to tour one production from each season into regional Queensland. This year’s touring production isCONSTELLATIONS. Demand from regional venues has secured the opportunity for Queensland Theatre to tour productions from 2017, 2018 and 2019 subscription seasons to major venues across Queensland. The company also aims to tour a production nationally each year to interstate capitals and some regional capitals across Australia. In 2017 this production is7 Stages of Grieving which is also touring internationally to the Origins Festival in London.

Circus

Circus Oz travels Australia, and while they do have their own wonderful big top, they also perform in theatres and in the great outdoors — as one of the few companies in the world to transition easily between these different spaces. This year Circus Oz took their new touring show Model Citizens to 13 regional towns across Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales with first time visits toCherbourg Community QLD andWyong NSW.

Dance moves

You could be forgiven for assuming the Sydney Dance Company’s main audience goers are dance lovers living in Sydney. However, over the last five years, 52 per cent of their performances were outside Sydney and this year alone, almost 80 per cent of their planned Australian venues are outside capital cities.

The relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are the heart of Bangarra, with their repertoire created on Country and stories gathered from respected community elders. Each year, the company tours regionally, and since its inception in 2013, its Rekindling program has inspired pride and kinship and a sense of strength in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through a series of dance residencies in 20 communities across five states.

This year’s specially staged production of Giselle stars artists from The Australian Ballet and graduating students from The Australian Ballet School. The production will tour regional Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales in June and July as part of the company’s strategic plan commitment to perform throughout Australia.

Tutus on Tour sees Queensland Ballet dancers pack up their tutus, tights and pointe shoes to bring a wonderful evening of ballet to venues across regional Queensland during September and October. The three-part program offers classical ballet and contemporary works followed by a Q&A discussion with artistic staff and dancers. From June to September, the company’s EdSquad will be on the road visiting communities across regional Queensland.

Operatic adventures

Opera Australia’s 2017 Regional Children’s Chorus program builds community engagement across the regions by giving 24 children — aged between 9 and 14 years, and from each community visited on our regional tour — the chance to perform as the Chorus in The Marriage of Figaro. Preparations are well underway with performances beginning early July. Opera Australia collaborates with local venues and music educators at each step of the process of creating this program. In 2016, The Marriage of Figaro toured to Victoria, NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. This year, the program will reach communities across Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Victoria.

West Australian Opera's 50th Anniversary celebrations this year includes taking live opera to the regions in gorgeous WA settings such as The Pinnacles, Greenough and Valley of the Giants. Amazing opera performances set against the backdrop of iconic WA landscapes.

With ongoing opportunities for arts engagement for regional audiences, creators, teachers and learners, special access programs to help address potential cost and distance barriers, as well as initiatives for particular regional community needs — the winter months are showing no signs of slowing down.

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