Seven years and still thirsty!

For my manager’s report this quarter, which is distributed across the industry, I thought I’d offer up a few personal reflections on a series of strategic changes I’ve been part of. This August I celebrated my seven-year anniversary working here in Regional Arts Victoria’s touring department. Seven years! Some days if feels like seven months – some days it feels more like 70 years – but on balance the time has flown by and I am consistently re-energised by the various challenges of the gig.

I’ve NEVER stayed in a job for so long before and it’s curious to think that I’ve been here since Windows Vista, The Gallows and Standing in the Way of Control were cool. I bore easily. Up until 2007 I was very satisfied taking on a new role or project, getting things running as best as I could and then moving on to the next challenge. As I create this little note I find myself reflecting on what longevity in a role means for an individual and an organisation, particularly with regards to a long view of the history and subsequent development of various projects. To illustrate this point I’ll raise a few pertinent examples:

Each year since 2007 I have been involved in a touring workshop. Seven years ago the workshop was an hour-long evening meeting where producers had the simple operational aspects of touring programs spelled out. Driven by the growing desires of the participants, and some kick-ass leadership, the event has grown into a sophisticated day-long extravaganza and is now a remarkable and unmissable professional opportunity. The Victorian Touring Workshop in 2013 was a sell-out, with folk begging to be let in, involved input from producers, presenters, marketing and publicity experts, budget and technical experts, covered accessibility issues and attracted delegates from as far away as Perth! This year we will co-host the Workshop with Theatre Network Victoria and The Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres on October 29. The event will be an epic day of exploration and learning and you really do not want to miss out on – continuing what will then be an eight year trajectory of meaningful growth. Registrations will open soon – so save the date and watch this space!

I’ve also been deeply involved in seven annual Showcase Victoria events. Showcase has always been my favourite touring marketplace – famous for its collegiate environment and brilliant organisation. What’s been really interesting about Showcase is that it has undergone serious strategic change – but not from a position of “being broken and needing a fix”. Rather the event has grown organically with the aspirations of performing artists and communities throughout Victoria (and to an increasing degree those from other states). Showcase was traditionally the “last” market of the programming calendar – used by venues to shore up theatre programs built primarily out of national arts markets. The 2014 Showcase was a legendary event which turned the tables on the programming cycle by facilitating the new points of connection artists and venue programmers need to fulfil mutual ambitions. This means that Showcase is no longer “last” in the queue and subsequently led to a record number of performance opportunities for 2015 and 2016. Tours developed out of Showcase are giving Victorian producers a head start on national markets. We are currently finalising Showcase Victoria 2015 plans which will continue the organic development of the event. Showcase will be held in May 2015 and I very firmly believe will be the “correct” mix of market, discourse and development and a near perfect opportunity for everyone looking for touring and programming opportunities during 2016 and 2017.

In my mind’s eye I can see both Showcase Victoria and the Victorian Touring Workshop like a centipede stretching back seven years – with fantastic but humble beginnings at the tail end, growing better and bigger each year, with as yet unknown awesomeness to follow at the head (and in future).

I’m very much looking forward to seeing you at the 2014 Victorian Touring Workshop. It will be my last event before taking long service leave through November, December and January. Through that time you will be in the utterly capable hands of the touring team – Rosie, Michaela and Dale.

Also… a little bird told me we’d be launching Showcase Victoria 2015 Submissions at the Workshop – so  yeah – save that date October 29