The Australian Theatre Forum is possibly one of the most significant events on a theatre person’s calender. It is the almighty convergence of venues, companies, organisations, bureaucrats, artists, touring companies. It may appear to be a little strange that an industry which is largely foyer-dwelling and highly present in social media AND practiced in conversation needs such an event.

But it does.

The ATF is a time of concentrated conversation as outlined by Curator Alicia Talbot:

“As a leap of faith we have had an amazing response from
artists, producers and presenters across the country.
I began the curation of ATF 2013 with a simple frame of
wanting to talk about ‘what’s not possible?’ as a way of
stretching our minds and thoughts forward over the next
30 years and to think about the broader questions that
we grapple with as makers, artists and cultural producers.
Alongside this, I gave myself the provocation of ‘not
knowing’ to embrace curiosity and freedom, and open my
mind to ideas and questions outside my frame of reference.
I would describe this as a willful and measured naivety.
There are always critical issues we are compelled to talk
about – but what else can happen if we knowingly put
these to one side?
In assembling the program I have been directly inspired by
attending IETM – International Network for Contemporary
Performing Arts – over the last three years. Not because
it is European, but because I am interested in the people
and the conversations – accidental and intended, formal
and informal. Away from the environment of a market-
focused meeting, how can we diffuse an artificial hierarchy
to engage in conversations that thread diverse practices,
ideas and provocations to re-inspire ourselves, and one
another…Talk to people we don’t know, follow the scent of
a good idea, do some business and pursue an interesting
conversation not knowing where it will lead…
This, and discussions across the country, has lead to the
program for ATF 2013.
I look forward to listening, to being in it, and to having
these conversations.”

It’s true such a huge coming together of such a mass of people privileges big conversations – strategic thinking – it celebrates the examination of past and encourages future thinking. Whereas some conferences and meetings and foyers are reserved for venues or presenters – the ATF is a convergence of many voices and perspectives. Not surprisingly the question has been asked about WHO is in this conversation, and WHO has been asked to speak.
It’s been suggested by 5thWall that perhaps the forum should be webcast – allowing greater access to emerging and remote companies and artists – especially in light of the commitment to embrace technology that was presented at the ATF in 2011.

It is indeed unfortunate, but true that Theatre Forums, like theatre itself, deal in the immediate and the finite and the transient.

It’s intense.

We’re talking about a perpetually “in crisis” industry. We’re uncovering issues around identity, process, sustainability, cultural well-being. And it’s national.

On Tuesday night there was a convergence of the Marketing Summit, APACA conference, Tipping Point and Australian Theatre at a networking drinks.

Moments felt like I was walking into my CV – and other moments felt like I was walking into a thinly veiled war of agendas – we know we have a finite amount of time – and so much to talk about and the tension becomes about having meaningful, broad and deep engagement with people…. and with a room full of fascinating and accomplished thinkers, artists, potential partners and collaborators, the task at hand : ie “a conversation” can feel like the most impossible thing to achieve – especially if you have “a fear of missing out.”


Sometimes all that is necessary is to be there.

It’s a funny thing – that despite the rhetoric of being “curious” and “open” and “experimental” and “risky” and “brave” and “generous” in our artmaking – that we forget to be that with each other. And yes, I’m not oblivious to the sometimes thoughtless, sometimes careless, sometimes obliviousness of behaviour under pressure.

In the last year my industry self-identity has gone through many evolutions – Blogger – Indie Director – Critic – Provocateur – Philanthropist – Cheerleader – Script Developer – Arts Centre Administrator -Board Member – Start Up Advisor: and It has been a time of great reflection. So I come to this forum with many identities – many interests – and a long memory of the work of many of the people in the room.

However, I think it’s important to honour the past but not be limited by it: including the assumptions we make about ourselves and each other.

This Forum I hope to curious, open, experimental, risky, brave and generous in my conversations and in my tweets. I hope to enter into a dialogue with a variety of people – a dialogue which is respectful and responsive.