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NORPA's Julian Louis to champion regional theatre at ARTLANDS DUBBO 2016

Julian Louis, Artistic Director of NORPA, intends to challenge perceptions of regional theatre when he makes the lead speech at the Theatre NSW Network Forum at ARTLANDS DUBBO 2016, the national biennial conference which is the largest arts gathering in Australia. 2016 will mark the return of the conference to NSW for the first time in 14 years, this year taking place in the inland City of Dubbo from Oct 27 – 30.

“I’m looking forward to this event because of the opportunity to meet with my peers and challenge perceptions of theatre making in regional Australia,” says Louis “Being regional is not a creative handicap – it’s a strength but only when the theatre making process allows the environment, people and culture to help shape the work. We need to combine new and old forms of theatre – we need a ‘contemporary’ theatre form that is popular and accessible yet adventurous.”

“The theatre we are making at NORPA is informed by our sense of place, and it’s working. We are generating new audiences. Our original works significantly out sell touring works by the big names on the national circuit. Our works are universal and nationally significant and we need that to be recognised outside the cultural bubble of the cities. NORPA could not, nor would want to, be based anywhere else.”

“Regional centres need to be recognised and promoted as cultural hubs, not just as venues for hire, waiting to be occupied by touring companies. There should be a creative exchange that flows both ways if we are serious about the health and vibrancy of our theatre sector. More of these venues need to produce quality work – they need creative producers, independent theatre companies in residence and artistic directors. A relatively small investment into regional centres would produce much greater results in terms of economic yield, but more importantly in terms of artistic and cultural outcomes. Stories from regional Australia in all their beautiful complexity can help create a unique voice for Australian theatre. “

Jane Kreis, Director of Theatre Network NSW says “This forum provides a highly-sought after space for regional performing arts makers to get together and discuss what is important to them, to investigate common strengths, issues, and collective solutions. It is a rare opportunity for all of those working in or across regional performing arts to connect in a meaningful way and TNN is very thankful to Regional Arts NSW for partnering with us to make this opportunity a reality.”

ARTLANDS DUBBO 2016 features four days of activity, conversation, discussion and debate about the arts across Australia from 27-30 October 2016.