Paul Osuch’s 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival Launch Speech

Good evening and welcome to the launch for the 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival! Bringing joy to Brisbane’s nooks and crannies

First though, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay witness to the wisdom of the elders past and present.

I’d like to thank Minister Ian Walker. It means an incredible amount to me and for us for the Minister to be here representing the Queensland Government because without their investment we would not be standing here tonight about to launch the festival. Just as importantly it allows us to make sure that by the end of those three years Anywhere will be able to stand on our own two feet.

Thank you to Brisbane Marketing for their support over the past two years and their increased support this year that makes a huge difference to the number of people who will be aware of the festival.

I’d also like to thank and introduce a new presenting partner for 2014 – mX. The partnership will allow us to further catapult the independent artists here today into the consciousness of Brisbanites.

I’d also like to thank our hosting partners who have provided rent free venues to the performers. They get that this festival is about and can see the benefits in being involved for their business, but also for the community.

Particular thank you to Doug Brimblecome, the Chair of the Anywhere Theatre Festival board. We have given him a number of challenges this year. Actually, the last three years to be honest. He has gone above and beyond the call of duty in leading and managing the board and us through through amazing years.

Jenna Koda for putting tonight’s event together, The Fox Hotel for hosting us, the six Directors in Training who are helping to make the festival happen AND to the real brains of the operation. She’s an entrepreneur, an actor, a producer, a writer, and counsellor for all the Anywhere acts and she also got a Brisbane news cover before me – Alex McTavish.

Firstly, lastly and most importantly of all I want to acknowledge all the independent artists who create the shows in the Anywhere Theatre Festival. They are the most important partners because without them there is no show, no reason for people to commune, to laugh, cry or feel. No reason to collaborate with businesses, no reason for audiences to come.

There has been a certain amount of public comment in the past few months from major theatre companies (here and here for starters) with advice for the independent sector. Telling us to get out in the community, find new ways of working and getting funded and telling us how other major theatre companies are (or are not) exploiting the independent sector.

But, you know what – in the second year (2012) of our little festival twice as many people saw the shows produced by independent artists over twelve days than the entire 2012 season at La Boite (source: La Boite 2012 Annual Report- pg 11) and only slightly less people than went to a main house Queensland Theatre Company production throughout 2012 (Source: QTC 2012 Annual Report – pg 16) so I’m wondering if maybe it should be the independent sector – the artists, many of who are in this room – who should be giving advice to the major theatre companies.

What the major theatre companies won’t admit or haven’t realised is that they need the independent sector far more than the independent sector needs them.  They are playing catch up – trying to include the independent sector into their program where the independent companies are treated like little bonsai trees to prune into the shape that fits their program. It’s not the best fit and both sides know it.

This is why what we are doing at Anywhere is so important. It connects independent artists with places and businesses that already exist, where people live, work and play. Making performance part of our lives instead of it being something we are simply permitted to experience if we pay the price to enter the hallowed turf of a theatre.

If we get this model right of performance anywhere but a theatre the change to our relationship with story telling and each other will be immense. I know it has the potential to kickstart a new golden era of performance that can change our society for the better.

And it will all be because of the independent artists – not the major theatre companies.

But before we take over the world, what about this 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival programme? I can’t say that I know where you’ll find it, however, I have heard that one of the acts in the festival, may have an idea…

Have a fantastic festival, explore Brisbane, discover many amazing shows and thank you very much for coming tonight to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival and please welcome amazing 2014 Anywhere Theatre Festival act Peter Booth to help us find those programmes !

* This is the speech as written and certain sections were no doubt paraphrased, ommitted or embellished on the night.

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