On the road in Western Australia

We’re enjoying the last few shows of the spring and busy behind the scenes curating the autumn programme of shows. It’s grey, gloomy and chilly outside so we thought we’d brighten your day with an update from our rural touring colleague, Philippa, in sunny Western Australia.

Philippa highlights the complexities of touring to rural communities over large and remote areas and makes our patch of central England sound so tiny by comparison…

Well, we’re a quarter of the way through the year.  We’ve survived a scorching summer with days as hot as 42 degrees Celsius. Our first tour of the year has travelled 5,605 km (3,482 miles) and visited six communities over sixteen days.

In a similar model to Live & Local, our ‘Shows on the Go’ programme is designed to ensure that small communities in regional Western Australia have access to high quality performing arts experiences. Country Arts WA delivers three to four state-wide tours per year, between four to eight weeks in length. ‘Shows on the Go’ tours are selected by community presenters who vote for the shows they would like to see in their town. Country Arts WA coordinates the tours and covers the touring costs.

Outdoor stage in Australia
Outdoor stage in Australia

Our second tour went out this week and will travel 7,194km (4,470 miles) and will visit fourteen communities over 33 days. The artist Damian Callinan is a comedian from the other side of the country so he flew five hours just to get to the start of the tour. At some points the tour party will drive for two days just to get to their next gig! Fortunately Damian is an experienced tourer and will probably use the tour to find material for his next show!

Tour bus drives through Australian outback
On the road in Western Australia

There are other tours under development that will go out over the next few months, through to September, and a national tour of The Deep by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre that will happen next year.

We’re also preparing for our ‘Sand Tracks’ tour where we tour an established Aboriginal band with an emerging band from the central desert region of Australia.  The established band not only attracts the crowds but also mentors the emerging band on the road.  Both bands deliver workshops to enthusiastic musicians in the remote communities.  That will happen in September and will be on four-wheel drive only roads for a month.

Audiences enjoying a Sand Tracks performance
Sand Tracks – NG Music Festival in Wanarn. Photo Matt McHugh.

In the office, we’re currently writing our application for core funding which will determine the next three year’s artistic and strategic program – a long but important process. We’ve also had some staff shuffling with people moving between different sections of the organisation so we have staff training happening.  That’s the thing about touring – you learn on the job.

We are recruiting for a General Manager.  Anyone want to move to sunny Western Australia?  It’s a balmy 26 degrees today and that’s autumn! Plus we have a great staff – lots of really smart people.

In between, there are ‘Share the Risk’ guarantee against loss funding rounds being administered, audience development projects being developed and we’re compiling our ‘Shows on the Go’ menu for promoters to vote for the tours that will happen next year. What’s happening in your world?

Philippa Maughan is Performing Arts Touring Manager for Country Arts WA
Visit the website to find out more: www.countryartswa.asn.au

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