The Ninth Wave by The Farm and Co3 Contemporary Dance. Photo by Jess Wyld.
Festival of Outback Opera by Opera Queensland. Photo by Glenn Hunt.
Auto Cannibal by Australasian Dance Collective and Beijing Dance LDTX,
Choreographed by Stephanie Lake. Photo by Jade Ellis.
Zoom by Patch Theatre. Photo by Matt Byrne.
Trash Talk by The Strangeways Ensemble. Courtesy of Merrigong Theatre Company.
So Long Suckers by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. Photo by Simon Pynt.
Black Cockatoo by Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Prudence Upton.
Whoosh by Sensorium Theatre. Photo by Peter Foster.
River Linked Live Virtual Concert. Photo by Abram Rasmussen Photography.
HOTA Home of the Arts. Courtesy of venue.
The Butch is Back by Reuben Kaye. Photo by Rebekah Ryan.
PAC Australia has proudly been recognising excellence in performing arts presenting through our awards program since 2003.
The criteria for the Impact Awards are intentionally broad to attract nominations that reflect the complexity and diversity of our ever-evolving industry. Importantly, PAC Australia members can nominate each other, themselves, as well as non-members.
At the heart of the awards format is the recognition of the winners’ contributions to the sector and up to eight awards will be bestowed each year.
The highest achievement in the awards is the Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award, which rewards exceptional, long-time service to the performing arts industry. This Award honours the illustrious career and the services of Wendy Blacklock AM, who is a pioneer of national touring and founder of Performing Lines.
The 2023 Impact Awards were presented in Cairns on the evening of Wednesday, 30 August as part of the Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX).
Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend: Restless Dance Theatre
Performing Arts Centre of the Year: Riverside Theatres Parramatta
Innovator Award: Tech Connect QLD – Arts Centre Melbourne, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Stage Queensland
Impact Award: Simone Flavelle
Impact Award: Milk Crate Theatre
Impact Award: Bendigo Venues and Events – Der Ring Des Nibelungen
Impact Award: Terrapin Puppet Theatre – Forever Young: Puppetry in Aged Care
Impact Award: NORPA – Love For One Nightread more
Winners for PAC Australia’s IMPACT Awards were announced on Wednesday 30 August 2023 at the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns, as part of the Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX).
The highest achievement in the awards, the Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award, acknowledges exceptional, longstanding contributions to the performing arts field by an individual or organisation. This Award honours the illustrious career and the services of Wendy Blacklock AM, who was a pioneer of national touring and founder of Performing Lines.
The 2023 recipient of the Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award is Restless Dance Theatre from South Australia.
Restless Dance Theatre is Australia’s leading creator of dance theatre by dancers with and without disability. Led by Artistic Director, Michelle Ryan, the company draws on everyday lived experiences to create outstanding contemporary works full of warmth, humour and searing honesty. Their impressive repertoire is a celebration of diversity and creativity, cherished by PAC Australia members, industry peers, and audiences globally.
The Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend award recognises Restless Dance Theatre’s contribution to the Australian performing arts landscape and honours their leadership and achievement for more than 30 years.
The 2023 Performing Arts Centre of the Year Award is Riverside Theatres Parramatta.
Riverside has been recognised for fostering a diverse and vibrant local urban culture and for being cultural leaders in Western Sydney. Their commitment to programming and delivering work of artistic excellence that reflects their community is underpinned by strong producing and commercial partnerships and over the past year, the centre has rebounded from the impacts of the pandemic with their most successful programming and attendance since 2018, including breaking the 35 year box office record for a single season.
Riverside’s producing company, National Theatre of Parramatta, also continues to punch above its weight. The company sets the standard for inclusion, talent cultivation and community engagement for the people of Western Sydney including young, LGBTQIA+, and BIPOC artists and audiences.
The Innovator Award is granted to an individual or organisation that demonstrates innovation for the sector. The 2023 winner is Tech Connect QLD, an industry development program between Arts Centre Melbourne, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Stage Queensland that addresses a significant training and pathways gap for technicians in Queensland.
The award panel noted the collaborative nature and influence of the program that ensures the sustainability and rigour of technical skills development for the industry. With a national shortage of experienced and qualified technicians, Tech Connect QLD safeguards the ability for venues and events to continue to deliver exceptional experiences.
A total of five Impact Awards (general category) are presented each year. The winners are:
Simone was chosen for her extraordinary contribution to growing vibrant, innovative, and sustainable Western Australian Arts and Disability practice. She was instrumental in shaping DADAA (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts Australia) from its earliest beginnings and 25 years later, it is the largest organisation of its kind in Australia.
The panel commended Simone’s commitment and work at the forefront of complex disability communities and her encouragement of artists with disability to reach new levels of empowerment and artistic excellence.
Milk Crate Theatre
Building on a rich 24-year history as Australia’s leading theatre company working at the crossroads of the arts, homelessness, mental health and disability, Milk Crate Theatre has spent the last two years forging new ground. By investing in an Impact Manager they have built an Impact Measurement Framework that supports clear measurement and articulation of their program’s impact across the arts, individual participants and audiences.
Milk Crate Theatre has demonstrated substantial positive effects on their community, empowering individuals to acquire skills, establish connections, and build confidence. Their mainstage performances have broken down barriers and elevated voices of the underrepresented.
Bendigo Venues and Events
Bendigo Venues and Events were bestowed an Impact Award following their partnership with Melbourne Opera to present Der Ring Des Nibelungen in early 2023.
Renowned for its complexity and duration, the production of Richard Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle Opera included a 90-piece orchestra, 130 performers and crew who presented performances that spanned a total of 15 hours.
The collaboration delivered a city-wide arts celebration built around the themes and opportunities that the Ring Cycle created. The program of more than 30 unique events with multiple sessions over the 37-day period was celebrated for providing new opportunities for local talent; building local workforce experience, skills, and capacity; securing local government, sponsorship and philanthropic support, and attracting new audiences.
Terrapin Puppet Theatre
Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s innovative project, Forever Young: Puppetry in Aged Care, merges entertainment with therapeutic delivery, bringing a unique performance and puppet visits into aged care residences. The program prioritises audience and access, with the physical, cognitive and psycho-social needs of residents embedded into every aspect.
Developed by Terrapin in collaboration with drama therapist and performer Dannielle Jackson, Forever Young has clearly demonstrated impact on the lives of older audiences and their carers. The program supports a range of quality-of-life indicators, with an increase in opportunities for older adults to experience and express feelings, participate in interactive relationships, exercise cognitive processing and engage imaginatively.
NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts)
NORPA – one of Australia’s most exciting regionally-based theatre organisations – was recognised for its innovative presentation of Love For One Night at the Eltham Hotel. The hotel, located in a community of just 343 people, was transformed into an outdoor theatre and became the backdrop for a project that provided paid employment opportunities for more than 50 artists and creatives, reaching an audience of almost 4,000 people.
Following the devastation of the 2022 Lismore mega-floods in which NORPA lost its home, office, theatre and equipment, this impressive organisation turned to what it does best; creating exceptional performances for its community that supported healing, coming together and partnership.
PAC Australia’s Executive Director, Katherine Connor said “Congratulations to all of our winners, who embody the essence of creating impactful and outstanding artistic work in their communities and beyond. This is just year two of our new awards format, and again it’s been an incredibly special evening, celebrating the trailblazing work that connects and inspires us all”.
The annual Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX) continues until Friday 1 September in Cairns, Queensland with conversations, panels, and networking opportunities for performing arts professionals.
2023 Key Dates
18 May 2023: Nominations open
30 June 2023: Nominations close
30 August 2023: Awards Ceremony, Cairns as part of the Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX).
Who can nominate?read more
- Only PAC Australia members can lodge a nomination. They may nominate themselves, a fellow member, or a non-member.
- A non-member cannot nominate themselves, but may be nominated by a PAC Australia member.
- PAC Australia members may submit a joint nomination in support of a nominee.
- PAC Australia members may submit multiple nominations each year.
- PAC Australia members can choose to keep their nominations confidential, if they so wish. If the nominee is not the member themselves, and the member would like to keep their nomination confidential, the nominee will only be notified if they are to be bestowed an award.
What can be nominated?read more
- An individual, organisation or venue, production, tour or project can be nominated.
What awards will be bestowed?read more
In addition to the general category IMPACT Awards, three specific awards will be bestowed each year:
- The Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend award – awarded to an individual or organisation.
- The Performing Arts Centre or Presenter of the Year Impact Award – awarded to any performing arts centre or presenter based.
- The Innovator Impact Award – awarded to any individual or organisation working within, or with, the PAC Australia membership specifically delivering innovative for the sector.
Up to a five IMPACT Awards will also be bestowed each year, to individuals or organisations who have had a positive impact on the sector, either through a short term project or initiative, or longer term contributions.
Who will determine the winners?read more
Representatives from the PAC Australia board, plus a panel of five performing arts leaders will determine the winners each year.
PAC Australia calls for nominations to sit on the awards panel every two years. As part of this process there is considerations of experience and representation taken into account when determining the final panel.
The PAC Australia board will make a determination each year for the Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend award, without a specific call for nominations. This award may be bestowed to an organisation or an individual.
Who is Wendy Blacklock?read more
From the early 1950s Wendy Blacklock spent 30 years as a performer working on radio, television and the stage in England, around Australia and New Zealand. She then decided in the early 1980s to become a Producer and joined the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust (now Australia Council for the Arts) where she set up an Australian Content Department. The Department was inundated by local artists who wanted to tour and in 1982 it began the important support of Aboriginal work by helping to get Robert Merritt’s The Cakeman to a world festival in Denver Colorado USA. Jack Davis’s work followed, representing Australia in Canada in 1986 and in London in 1989.
After 10 years the Australia Council set Wendy up as an independent not for profit company named Performing Lines. It began with one assistant, but when Wendy retired after 21 years it had seven producers, departments in three states and was turning over millions of dollars from producing, touring and supporting work both nationally and internationally.
What kinds of nominations will be considered?read more
As a guiding framework, not as specific categories, organisations or individuals may be nominated in response to:
- An outstanding or innovative collaboration/partnership, whether that be working directly with artists, industry colleagues, government or outside the sector;
- Innovative touring models;
- Achievement in programming/presenting;
- Significant outcomes in performing arts centre management e.g. measurable and significant increase in audiences;
- Achievement in producing or tour producing;
- Significant audience response to a particular production/work;
- Specific innovative local programs or engagement activities;
- New initiatives in the fields of accessibility, sustainability or diversity;
- Specific achievements for, and with, audiences and/or community;
- A significant project which has delivered sector-wide outcomes.
The above list is not intended to be prescriptive – we welcome nominations that may sit outside these frameworks and they are provided as a guide only.
Award process and Panel Code of Conductread more
- Panel members must declare conflict of interests. A conflict may be perceived or actual. A conflict will occur in the following instances:
- A panel member is connected to a nominated organisation by virtue of their employment (either currently employed, or employed within the last three years)
- A panel member is connected to a nominated individual by family ties or through a current or recent collegial relationship.
- A panel member is financially tied to a nominated organisation, project or individual including by being a producing partner or an investor in any phase of a project/production.
- If a conflict of interest is declared, it may be deemed necessary for the panelist to exit the deliberation at the discretion of the panel Chair, or the PAC Australia President, either for the entire deliberation process, or simply during the discussion of the nomination for which they have a conflict of interest.
- Panel members are required to keep all discussions about awards confidential both before and after the awards are made. All emails, correspondence, reports and files must be kept confidential leading up to the awards and destroyed after.
- Panel members must not publicly talk about the awards in a manner that is less than positive. It is not acceptable for panel members to talk about the awards in a disparaging, vindictive or harmful manner.
- The panel’s decision is final, and no individual panel member may dispute the award or express their individual disagreement in public about decisions made.
- “In public” is not limited to talking in public arenas. It also means talking to colleagues, friends, industry members, publishing articles, sending emails or sharing information with other nominees.
- Panel members must act honestly, with integrity and be impartial.
2022 Winnersread more
The 2022 Impact Award winners were announced at the ceremony as part of the Australian Performing Arts Exchange (APAX) on 5 September at the Yallamundi Room, Sydney Opera House.
2022 Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award winner: Stephen Page AO
Innovator Award 2022 winner: HOTA, Home of the Arts
Innovator Award 2022 winner: Arts on Tour
Performing Arts Centre of the Year Award 2022 winner: Art House Wyong
Impact Award winner: ActNow Theatre
Impact Award winner: CDP Theatre Producers
Impact Award winner: Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya
Impact Award winner: David Lloyd
The highest achievement in the awards, the Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award, recognises the outstanding contributions and exceptional, long-time service to the performing arts industry from an individual or organisation. This Award honours the illustrious career and the services of Wendy Blacklock AM, who was a pioneer of national touring and founder of Performing Lines.
The 2022 Wendy Blacklock Industry Legend Award winner was Stephen Page AO, Artistic Director of Bangarra.
The PAC Australia board has long observed and admired the major role the inaugural Industry Legend recipient has played as an artist and a cultural leader, establishing and nurturing contemporary indigenous dance into a place of prominence in communities across Australia. PAC Australia’s members and the communities they represent are indebted to Stephen Page for his artistic ambition, storytelling and leadership over many years.
The Innovator Award is awarded to an individual or organisation specifically delivering innovation for the sector. The 2022 Innovator Award was awarded to two organisations. The winners of the 2022 Innovator Award were HOTA, Home of the Arts and Arts on Tour.
HOTA, Home of the Arts was recognised for leadership and innovation in the development and delivery of models that support artist and sector development, particularly through their ArtKeeper program.
In an effort to improve secure and fair work conditions for artists across the sector, ArtKeeper roles were advertised as jobs for artists, not as opportunities or grants. This reaffirms that the work artists do is essential to venues, the sector, and to the audiences who have relied on artists work more than ever over the past two years – to lift our spirits, keep our cultural connections, imagine new futures and more.
Arts on Tour was recognised for their leadership in promoting green touring and providing resources to the sector to support the transition to environmentally sustainable touring practices.
Arts on Tour started the Green Touring Initiative in late 2020 with the aim of providing tools and strategies to minimise emissions and work towards carbon neutral touring. The outcomes of this Initiative, The Green Touring Toolkit and accompanying resources, and Arup’s emissions calculator Circulate, were launched in 2022. These initiatives support artists and organisations to develop environmental sustainability goals both in the touring practices and across their operations.
The 2022 Performing Arts Centre of the Year Award was Art House Wyong.
The Art House has contributed significantly to the cultural urban transformation of Wyong and the surrounding Central Coast region and is leading the way a new, regional performing arts centre can operate under an independent business model and achieving high audience engagement. The Art House has positioned itself as a venue of national significance in only six short years, in an area that didn’t have an existing theatre or audience. It has made significant contributions to the community, artists, and region as a destination, through its dedication to presenting renowned live performance locally.
Four further Impact Awards were bestowed to two organisations, a production and an individual. Impact Awards recognise individuals or organisations who have had a positive impact on the sector, either through a short-term project or initiative, or longer-term contributions. The 2022 Impact Awards winners were ActNow Theatre, CDP Theatre Producers, the production Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya and the late David Lloyd.
ActNow Theatre was recognised for their award-winning program of interactive performance projects that are steered by social justice.
ActNow’s ongoing mission to democratise and decolonise storytelling, celebrates and amplifyies the voices of our First Nations, POC and Queer communities. Most significantly, this crucial work is led by ActNow’s staff, board members and artists from these targeted communities.
CDP Theatre Producers was recognised their sector-wide support and contributions to safely reactivating touring throughout the pandemic.
As one of the most active touring organisations during the early days of Covid-19, it was important to the whole CDP team to share experiences and learnings with the industry at large. The company’s commitment to make sure touring was still possible, where permitted and safe to do so, broke through challenges of multiple border closures and state-based lock downs. Most importantly, as one of the active touring organisations through the early days of COVID, this award recognises CDP’s commitment to sharing their experiences and learning with the industry at large, including their contributions to PAC Australia’s own sector reactivation planning, and as a member of the LPA Working Group which developed the National Guidelines for COVID-safe touring.
Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya producing partners, Wulgurukaba Walkabouts, Big Eye Theatre (Mula Jina Warran and Mula Jina Jalbu), Sambo Productions, Komet Torres Strait Islander Arts and Culture, and Dancenorth Australia were recognised for their significant achievement in elevating First Nations stories and culture and fostering social cohesion through their cross-cultural collaborative performance project.
Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya (now we have arrived) was a ground-breaking celebration of First Nations culture from across the North Queensland region. The impact of this work was felt deeply by community and the participants themselves. Not only did the non-Indigenous collaborator on the project celebrate and respect cultural protocol, but that overall, Dungarri Nya Nya Ngarri Bi Nya was a vitally important and impactful event for the First Nations community.
The late David Lloyd was recognised for his dedication to the support of contemporary performing arts practice particularly through the Roadwork and Blaklines consortia, his leadership of PAC Australia and VAPAC at board level and his role in the development of the Ulumbarra Theatre. Lloyd’s award was accepted by his daughter, Celeste Lloyd and sister, Kate Russell.