This year has been a tumultuous one for independent arts scenes. Since the mid-year announcement of $105 million dollars worth of funding cuts to the Australia Council for the Arts, various branches of the arts sector have been fearing for their future while persevering to make relevant and impactful work on a shoestring budget.
Last Thursday it was with deep regret and sadness that one of Sydney’s theatre institutions announced that it would not be returning in the New Year. Rock Surfers will be closing its doors at the end of 2015, after 18 monumental years delivering bold and brilliant indie theatre in Sydney.
Built on an ethos of backing the next generation of artists and audience, Rock Surfers acted as a parent company for literally hundreds of young, independent Australian theatre companies.
Rock Surfers’ productions have graced the pages of City Hub many times throughout its lifespan, and their bold presence will be missed in our arts coverage. We will especially mourn for Bondi Feast, Rock Surfers’ fringe-style winter festival, which this year filled the Bondi Pavilion with over 50 performances worth of life and warmth during an otherwise dreary winter (a program more than double that of the initial festival in 2012).
Acclaimed NZ director Shane Bosher came on board to recalibrate the Company in mid-2015, and Rock Surfers was set to deliver a bold new vision.
“Shane had put together what was possibly the Company’s best season to date for 2016. It championed a diversity of experience, backing female, GLBTI, Pacific Island and Asian-Australian artists in particular. It is a complex funding environment at present for the arts and sadly, due to a shift in funding priorities, we did not receive enough funding support to enable us to deliver it,” explained Chair Nell Schofield.
Hugely disappointed that Sydney won’t get a chance to see what Bosher had planned for the future, Schofield added: “Every effort has been made to find alternative funding to bridge the gap and we have been incredibly well supported by the Waverley Council, but we now feel that winding down the activities of the Company is the only responsible form of action.”
Founded in 1996 as Tamarama Rock Surfers and established at the Old Fitzroy Theatre the following year, before eventually settling as the resident theatre company at the Bondi Pavilion. The Company produced over 200 mainstage productions including the world premieres of over 130 new Australian plays in its 18 years of operation. Rock Surfers jumpstarted the careers of many leading Australian theatremakers including Tim Minchin, Sarah Goodes, Brendan Cowell and Sarah Snook.
Rock Surfers wish to thank everyone who has supported their work in any way over the years. Vale, Rock Surfers Theatre Company! (AM)