The Australian Theatre Forum 2013 is an industry event for professional theatre practitioners, producers and commentators that welcomes participation from all parts of the industry—independents and project based collectives, small to medium and major companies, producing venues and festivals. It was an event that generated discussion around contemporary practice, policy, sustainability and audiences.

In this environment, the exchange between artists, presenters, producers, managers and policy-makers was vital. To ensure we had a diversity of voices from different practices, across the sector and around Australia, we limited places available in each of four sections: Independents, Major Companies/Festivals, Medium Companies and Small to Medium Companies.

The first forum, in May 2009, was organised by the Australia Council for the Arts, largely to address key issues that the sector was facing, as articulated in the report Love Your Work, by Jackie Bailey for the Major Performing Arts Board and the Theatre Board (2008). The two issues articulated in the paper are:

• Creative workforce succession: where are the directors, artistic directors, designers and other key creatives of the future going to come from and what can the sector do to support their development now?

• Interconnections: how can the theatre sector’s connections be strengthened to support and manage risk-taking, address issues of talent development and succession, and provide benefit for both the small to medium and large companies?

The forum was overseen by a national committee: Wesley Enoch, Tom Gutteridge, Alice Nash and Andrew Upton, and curated by Angharad Wynne-Jones. The forum was three days, “Chock-full of challenges, provocations and potential ways forward” (Chris Mead, 2010), and delegates expressed a keen interest for a second forum. (See 2009 section ATF 2009 for details of the forum program).

With the lack of a national theatre peak body to take the forum forward, the newly established Theatre Network Victoria approached the Australia Council to offer its services in taking stewardship of the next forum. An agreement was made, and TNV secured an offer and funding from Arts Queensland to bring the forum to Brisbane in 2011. TNV pulled together a national steering committee, secured Brisbane Powerhouse and Brisbane Festival as key partners, and secured Brisbane City Council funding to complement funding committed by the Australia Council. TNV approached Metro Arts to take on the auspicing of the project, as a key local organisation with local contacts and a strategic overview of the state’s sector.

The steering committee wrote a comprehensive curatorial brief, and then recruited Fiona Winning as Curator in late 2010, who curated the 2011 program alongside Rebecca Meston (Project Manager), with guidance from the committee.

Have a look at the ATF 2011 tab; you’ll find photos, video and blog posts from the 2011 ATF at Brisbane Powerhouse.

TNV is continuing to take stewardship of the forum, supported by the Australia Council’s Theatre Board, and is producing the 2013 Forum. We are thrilled that the 2013 ATF takes place during the Centenary of Canberra celebrations.