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Tour push under way Down Under

Theater and ballet companies, puppet groups, jazz musicians, contemporary dance troupes and orchestras are among those packing their bags for overseas tours as part of an export push by the Australia Council for the Arts, while the council’s Performing Arts Board shelled out its last coin before a radical streamlining the process.

The tours are a dividend of PAB’s establishment of a biennial Australian Performing Arts Market, from which 16 groups were invited to tour by buyers attending the first market in Canberra, the national capital, in October.

The Board has forked out A$470,000 ($348,270) to assist the tours, which include Adelaide-based Leigh Warren and Dancers, which will perform three works in London’s contemporary dance venue the Place and in Indonesia; the Bungarra Dance Theater, going to the first Tokyo Intl. Performing Arts Festival in September and Taiwan’s National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center; Perth-based Deck Chair Theater’s Aboriginal Women’s piece “Ningali” to Berlin, Bonn, London and the Edinburgh Festival; and the Tasmanian-based Terrapin Puppet Theater to the June 1996 UNIMA Intl. Puppetry Festival in Budapest, Hungary.

PAB also unveiled a conventional and an online directory of more than 200 performing arts groups with ready-to-tour works. Called “Touring Australia: The Presenters Guide to Australian Performance,” it was developed with the Australian Center of the Intl. Theatre Institute.

PAB’s May meeting, meanwhile, approved 133 dance, music and drama projects with grants totaling $1.3 million in the form of standalone handouts to companies and performers that did not qualify for annual coin in November.

Other funded projects include a trip to Bulgaria for the Melbourne-based Hildegard Theatre Company to create a new work – to be performed in both Sofia and Melbourne – with Bulgarian director Vaskressia Viharovna; William Yang’s latest slide-and-monolog theatrical effort; and Brisbane’s Two High Festival for young female performers.

This funding round is the last under the existing 18-category system, which has been replaced by a simplified three-category application process with two, rather than one, rounds. The three categories are project, for one-off performances; development, for skill and creative development for individuals and groups; and program, for hybrids of programs, performances and development.

“The system relates closely to the Board’s new corporate plan,” Board chair Julie Warn said. “We wanted to provide our clients with far more flexibility in applying for funding.”

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