Rising and Falling: Phantom Projects and the Lived Experience of Funding Failure

Jane Woollard, Davina Wright


Mike Alfreds writes that a theatre rehearsal process enables ‘a group of people to exercise their imaginations collaboratively as well as individually’ and allows them to ‘grow, develop and extend themselves until together they coalesce as a unique creation, a world true to its own specific existence and only possible because of these particular people’ (Alfreds 2007, 339). When applying for subsidies or funding to support the creation of new theatre and performance projects, the independent theatre practitioner, whether director, writer or performer, must provide details about the ensemble or group– ‘these particular people’--that they have confirmed for the project. Mimicking Stanislavskian questions, the artist must outline what, where, who, how and why. To demonstrate the viability of a project, the applicant creates budgets, letters of confirmation and biographies indicating the team has the requisite expertise, and confirmation letters from presenting partners, venues and other supporters. As they comply with these grown-up administrative tasks, our colleagues and collaborators are drawn into the speculative project—an ensemble is indeed created. The process of applying for subsidy almost summons the project into being.


Contemporary Australian theatre; Arts Funding; Failure; Resilience; Theatre careers

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