Founded in March 2018 by Alison Croggon and Robert Reid, Witness is an forum for independent critique and debate about the Australian performing arts. We want to rethink criticism, placing contemporary performance into its social, aesthetic and historical contexts.
If you want to keep up with what’s new on the site, you can sign up to our newsletter for free. However, if you value our coverage, please think about supporting us: a membership costs between $5-$15 a month. You can sign up as a Witness member at this page and support the future of Australian criticism.
The future of Witness depends on you: at present our budget only covers us until June 2019. We need to reach 500 members by the middle of the year in order to continue into the second half.
We believe performance is much more than a product: it’s a nexus of ideas, memories, disciplines, communities and social and individual histories. At Witness, we aim to trace some of these ideas, memories, disciplines, communities and histories. This means that we are proudly non-commercial: we are interested in talking about the art of performance. That means we focus particularly on covering independent works, as indie artists are the powerhouses of Australian culture.
As well as current reviews and features on performance, Witness publishes podcast and video series that expand discussion beyond the usual publicity-driven coverage of what’s on now. Throughout 2018, Robert Reid uploaded an entire series of Video Histories, which cover the history of Australian performance from pre-colonisation to the present day. Our podcasts include interviews with notable artists who might not be in the headlines, but whose practice uniquely contributes to our performance culture, in this year we’ll be launching our Podcast Specials, in-depth creative investigations of issues in the performing arts.
A central part of our mission is nurturing and mentoring new critical voices, especially from communities marginalised in mainstream critical discussion. We believe that the future health of our performing arts culture depends on nurturing these voices. We launched with the Witness First Nations Emerging Critic program, and worked with Carissa Lee throughout 2018. In 2019 Carissa will join us as an assistant editor and we will take on another FNEC, which will mean that Indigenous critics comprise 50 per cent of our core writing team.
In 2018 we also we collaborated on the New Review program with Footscray Community Arts Centre’s West Writers and Malthouse Theatre, mentoring and publishing four emerging critics, and delivered masterclasses with Yirramboi’s Blak Critics program. We also actively seek out new voices when commissioning work. In 2018, we published 215 works from 20 contributors. Of those writers, 14 were women, 3 were Indigenous, 4 were from CALD backgrounds, two were Disabled and one was 13 years old.
Witness is proudly made on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nations. We respectfully acknowledge their Elders past and present.