SELF-DESCRIBED “culture vulture” and local MP Warren Entsch has thrown his support behind the Far Northern arts scene, highlighting the fantastic achievements of the JUTE Theatre Company in Parliament last night (TUE).
It comes as the Cairns community today reaffirmed the pressing need for a new, contemporary performing arts facility that can cater for larger productions, both home-grown and visiting.
JUTE received a triennial grant from the Australia Council for the Arts late last year, allowing the company to continue with its “extraordinary outpouring of new Australian stories,” Mr Entsch said.
“JUTE is the country’s largest producer of new Australian plays, producing over 65 new works from regional theatre makers over the last two decades,” the Leichhardt MP told Parliament. “It is an absolute credit that a small regional city like Cairns has produced a theatre company like this.
“I’ve also just learned that JUTE has secured sponsorship to get one of their shows, Bastard Territory by Stephen Carleton, to tour to Port Moresby. This is a fantastic opportunity to export their script development program, actors and director development program to PNG and is the first step in what could be a really valuable relationship between JUTE and PNG.”
In 2014, JUTE is presenting five very diverse pieces of life-changing storytelling, including Doug Robins’ Propelled a story about living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Proper Solid, a tale about the first Australian Aboriginal President in 2067 who is flung back in time to 2014.
“Unfortunately, the state government’s financial situation means they have had to make cuts to the arts. This has led to some challenges for JUTE in providing their public performance program,” Mr Entsch said.
“JUTE CEO Suellen Maunder tells me that Propelled was a particularly important show as it gave voice to someone with different abilities. However, to enable this production to go ahead, they had to dig deep into the budget for the remainder of the year.
“There is a fantastic opportunity here for corporate sponsorship to help cover the $30,000 shortfall and I strongly urge any interested businesses to get in touch with Suellen.”
Mr Entsch said that his involvement in the development of the White Paper for Northern Australia had highlighted to him the importance of regional arts.
“When we are looking at how to get people into regional areas, it is not just about incentives like tax breaks. There are other liveability factors, and being able to enjoy the arts, both visual and performing, is certainly a major part of that.
“It may not be a pull factor for people looking to move to Cairns but it is certainly a retention factor once they get there.”
Mr Entsch added that while it was important for all levels of government to recognise the value of performing arts and provide them with the appropriate funding, it was also about backing from the community.
“My wife Yolonde and I have purchased season tickets for this year’s five productions to show our encouragement.
“Everyone needs to be publicly supporting our local theatre; otherwise we will face the consequences of losing not just this facility but the ability to create new stories that contribute to our regional identity.”
For more information about JUTE, click here