Making theatre is expensive, especially if you’re starting out and you have no funding*. Theatre requires time and space. In Sydney, both these things are at a premium. So while we can’t buy time for the artists, we can give them space.
We work with a panel of artists to select seven teams a year, out of over 150 applications. We give each time a rehearsal space and the Downstairs theatre for free. Their task is to make a show for $1500 or less, which includes their set, costumes, and marketing. There are no wages, but 100% of the box office goes to the artists, who split the profits evenly between them.
This is a new model for independent theatre, and it’s unique to Belvoir. Other (really terrific) independent venues need to charge artists a rental fee or a box office split, which creates an economy of scale and a producing burden that can be tricky to manage. 25A reduces the producing burden close to zero. The idea is that the artists can focus on the work itself.
We have called it 25A because Belvoir St Theatre is number 25 Belvoir St, and 25A is our new neighbour in the granny flat. Our hope is that in time these artists will take over the main house. If they do, it will be because 25A gave them the freedom to explore.
We know this opprtunity matters, because many of the artists who now grace our mainstage began their working lives down here. I include myself in that list.