Funding boost for performing arts at Merrigong Theatre Company at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

Arts support: Merrigong Theatre Company's Simon Hinton with Kiama MP Gareth Ward at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Picture: Robert Peet.
Arts support: Merrigong Theatre Company's Simon Hinton with Kiama MP Gareth Ward at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Picture: Robert Peet.

Merrigong Theatre Company will benefit from $126,000 in NSW Government funding for its cultural development program.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward announced the Arts and Cultural Development Program funding at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre on Monday.

Mr Ward said Merrigong had a great tradition of working with organisations such as the Disability Trust. And a large part of the funding ($70,000) will help actors with disabilities involved with the theatre on stage. 

Merrigong artistic director Simon Hinton said it would help the Disability Trust Actors Ensemble.

“We have been working the last 10 years with the Disability Trust on a very successful program where we run their open access drama classes for people with a disability. This funding allows us to take the step of establishing a permanent ensemble for actors and theatre makers with physical disability who will be employed one day a week here at the centre”.

“They have already begun that in the last couple of weeks. And they work one day a week with other professional artists both developing their skills and devising and creating the work that will then be shown on our stages in the future.”

Mr Hinton said there were very few ensembles like it in Australia.

So it is really significant for Wollongong to be working at the forefront of mixed abilities theatre. They are fully professional productions performed on the main stage.

“The last one we had called The Outside Man was incredibly successful with our audience. People just loved that show,” Mr Hinton said.

Mr Ward said he was looking forward to coming to watch the next production.

“The amatuer theatre I am used to watching is Question Time. So I am looking forward to coming and watching some professional theatre,” he said.

“As someone who was part of the amatuer theatre at the Nowra Players when I was growing up I always love a good Merrigong Theatre production. I also think encouraging regional performing arts is incredibly important”.

Another $56,000 in funding from NSW Government’s Cultural Development Program – Regional Arts Touring initiative is going towards the state leg of the national tour of the Merrigong Theatre Company’s production of ‘Letter to Lindy’.

“It premiered here and is going to 21 venues around the country,” Mr Hinton said.

”It is Federally funded for the interstate legs.”

The tour will run from June to September.

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This story Funding boost for performing arts at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.