‘Cul­ture vul­ture’ back­ing JUTE

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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 week.

It comes as the Cairns com­mu­nity reaf­firmed the press­ing need for a new, con­tem­po­rary per­form­ing arts fa­cil­ity that can cater for larger pro­duc­tions, both home­grown 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.’’

Pic­ture: TOM LEE

JUTE: Ella Wat­son-Rus­sell, MP War­ren Entsch and Natalie Tay­lor

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