We made it this far. AWESOME! But Witness needs your help or we’ll have to close in June…
Happy New Year to all our readers! Over the summer theatre break we’ve been busy under the hood, tinkering with the gears. We hope you like the new look.
We’ve made Witness easier to get around, so hopefully you can find what you want when you want. You’ll also notice that we’ve taken down our paywalls – now all the features and podcasts are free to everyone. The truth is that paywalls never really sat very well with us.
This month we’re diving straight into festival season, opening with Midsumma and the new shows opening around town. Then we’re heading into the Perth and Adelaide Festivals and gearing up for a Witness Critical Focus on Dance Massive. If you haven’t already done so, you can keep up with what’s new on the site by signing up to our newsletter – it’s free and it’s easy.
As an appetiser, check out The Bridge, the first of our new podcast series, Witness Spotlight. We’re planning three of these podcasts over the next six months, produced by our very own podcast producer Ben Keene. These are longer, more creatively ambitious podcasts that look in-depth at issues related to the performing arts. The Bridge is a collaboration between Witness, the Arts & Industry Festival and Overland Journal that through the lens of a remount of a verbatim play about the West Gate Bridge disaster looks at trauma, class, memory and memorialisation.
Thanks to Creative Victoria, Monash University and, best of all, to our 170 Witness members (and we are very thankful) we’re funded for the next six months. The bad news is that we didn’t do so well elsewhere: this year the Australia Council turned down our application. We hold no grudges: we know how small the funding pot is, and how many deserving projects there are. But this means that if we don’t increase our membership to 500 by the middle of the year, we’ll be forced to close.
We worked hard last year – after launching in March with a core Witness creative staff of four people and a total of 21 contributors, we reviewed 179 shows and uploaded 20 feature essays, 16 podcasts and 14 videos. But we feel that we’ve only begun.
We believe Witness is unique. We provide social, aesthetic and historical context for the contemporary discussion of Australian theatre: if you’re curious about our performance history, you can follow a whole course that follows Australian performance from pre-settlement to now. We’re idealistic and drastically non-commercial and we work this hard because we believe that performance is a lot more than just a product.
The health of Australian culture depends on a multiplicity of voices, and Australian performance critique remains overwhelmingly white and male. We worked throughout 2018 to foster relationships with an increasing pool of diverse critics. When we appoint the 2019 First Nations Emerging Critic in March, our core critical team will be 50% Indigenous.
You can check out the Witness 2018 Report, which analyses in further depth what we did last year. We think that there’s lots of room for improvement, but we also think what we’ve done here speaks for itself. We’d love the chance to build on what we’ve begun.
If you’ve thought about supporting Witness but haven’t got around to it, now is the time. If you think that Witness is contributing to the conversation around performance, if you want us to review your shows, please think about supporting Witness. If you are already a Witness supporter, THANK YOU It costs as little as $5 a month, and every membership makes this project more sustainable. You can become a Witness member here.
We know (none better!) that not everyone can help out financially. If that’s you, there are other ways to support our work. Share Witness with your friends and family. Follow our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. Like and share our reviews, articles, videos and podcasts. Email your friends to make sure they know we exist and suggest they follow and support us.