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Government, business unite to support devastated theatre industry


John Steinbeck once said: “Theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for thousands of years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive”.

Following the devastation of a global pandemic, it also needs a little help from the leaders in our society.

Three such trailblazers have stepped up to lend a hand to the City of Newcastle Drama Association (CONDA) and its annual awards show – the longest running program in Australia.

CONDA president Shane Bransdon said few, if any, sectors were hit harder by COVID-19 than the performing arts.

“Theatre was the first industry to shut down and one of the last to reopen,” he stated.

“Production companies have been brought to their knees over the past two years and local theatre companies and practitioners have been hit hard.

“In a hugely welcome show of support for the industry, three leading Newcastle organisations – Out of the Square (OOTS), Civic Theatre and JH Productions – have each signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding to support CONDA and its gala annual awards program.

“We’re delighted to announce, thanks to the generosity of the City of Newcastle, the CONDA Awards will return to the city’s preeminent venue, the magnificent Civic Theatre.

“The 43rd edition of the annual event will take place on Saturday 11 December.

“And, it is sure to be one mighty celebration of the industry and its determination to shake off its troubles and forge into the new year with a reinvigorated sense of optimism.

“The second incredible supporter has been CONDA’s major sponsor since 2014 Out of the Square (OOTS), who will bring its marketing and event production expertise to the evening.

“We are grateful for their continued support and new three-year commitment.

“Last but by no means least, JH Productions has signed on as CONDA’s industry partner.

“Jacob Harwood and his team will bring their unparalleled expertise in all things staging to ensure the awards and the showstopping musical numbers are a dazzling showcase of all the local industry has to offer.”

Theatre manager Leonie Wallace said the Civic Theatre was delighted to back the prestigious CONDA Awards.

“At a time when our industry has faced unparalleled adversity, this is a great way for us to show our support of the local theatre community,” she explained.

“Our team is looking forward to an evening of festivity and joy, as we all celebrate being part of the wonderful and brilliantly-talented Newcastle theatre community.”

Commenting on their ongoing commitment to CONDA, OOTS managing director Marty Adnum said it was a testament to the collaborative spirit of the city that all three organisations could contribute to the success of CONDA’s future in this way.

“Each will bring their expertise to ensure an outstanding event,” he added.

“OOTS is a passionate supporter of local theatre and the performing arts.

“When we first came onboard to sponsor CONDA in 2014, the awards looked to be in their final year, thanks to financial uncertainty and dwindling attendance.

“Since that time, we have worked closely with CONDA to re-establish financial stability and sell out award ceremonies.

“In 2021, the industry in general is struggling and needs to rebuild.

“So, we are steadfast in offering another three years of continued support to CONDA knowing, in turn, the long-term benefits for our city as a whole.

“For a truly modern city to survive and, more importantly, thrive we need to support our incredibly talented local performing arts industry.

“Each show we see, each ticket we buy, further contributes to the well-rounded success and growing richness of Newcastle and the Hunter.”

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