Sydney is a tough nut to crack! I've been here three days and again feel like I don't want to leave. Since my last blog I performed at Voguey Bear at Tokyo Sing Song in Newtown - if you're if planning a trip to Sydney and want to meet some gorgeous folk then head to Voguey Bear. It's a sort of queer, performance, laid back social with cocktails fronted by the Stereogamous boys.
When I was last in town the boys made sure I was fed and watered and enjoyed my first experience of Oz - this time was no different with pre-show dinner and 'french champagne' at Matt Format's home.
Since then I've been in every Uber and on every train this city has to offer. I've been meeting makers, producers and curators to sell my wears and start conversations.
From meeting with artists Zoe Coombs Marr and Phil Spencer, producers Virginia Hymn and Rosie Fisher I've been creating a better idea of the cultural climate in Sydney (which I think is a really important thing to do before trying to get stuff off the ground anywhere that isn't home). What's quickly becoming evident is that Australia loves international work, often elevating its above home-grown work but the platforms to present work are few and far between - making Sydney a beautiful, welcoming community that's extremely competitive.
Funding is difficult to come by, space to present in is expensive and audiences won't cross into other neighbourhoods that don't have parking or a train line! I'm currently firming up a tour in February and March 2015, it's becoming apparent a creative approach to funding it is needed - part commercial, part subsidised, part educated risk and then getting everyone to contribute to the air fare - flight sharing is big here!
I suggest any performer or artist arriving in Sydney reach out to Carriage Works (via the extremely wonderful Rosie Fisher). An amazing space not too far from the centre of Sydney it's a sort of mix between the Tate, Battersea Arts Centre and Summer Hall. A multiplex of spaces for shows, installations and film in a series of converted train sheds - it's glorious and their programme is really exciting. Tip: pop down to their cafe, it's cheap (for Sydney), some of the art is free and you're likely to bump into someone like Richard DeDomenici or Kelli Jean Drinkwater.
After a few more cabs and carriage rides I made my way over to the British Council. Now, I didn't really know what the British Council did (apart from help fund this trip) but the answer I think is really useful for any British or Australian artists wishing to make work or tour in each others country. British Council Australia can facilitate you meeting the right people, be signposted to the right organisations and put you in direct contact with key players. Effectively they are pro-active advocates of culture and cultural exchange and the girls in the Sydney office are uber helpful! I recorded a podcast with them about my hopes for building an audience here - I'll let you know when it's up. (Check out the picture of their toilet sign!)
As someone who makes socially engaged work I can't help but find the stuff that is less attractive about a place. I've been having lots of uncomfortable conversations with people about Australia and racism. I'm currently dreaming up an idea for a production with Roundhouse on the same topic and feel increasingly it could be an extremely important piece to develop here too.
Things I've noticed today:
1. Lots of women work in construction! On the face of it this is wonderful but look closer and these young women only hold the stop and go sign and often wear a pink polo as opposed to the men's yellow and navy ones.
2. People stand on the left on the escalator.
What next? Get packed for Melbourne. Thank the people who've given me their time. Have more uncomfortable conversations