$150,000 grant to develop theatre talent

The llawarra's theatre community is set to receive a boost with a $150,000 federal grant to develop and support local productions.

Merrigong Theatre Company was last week successful in securing funding in the Australia Council's program presenter category. 

The Wollongong-based company, which operates the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, will receive an annual grant of $50,000 for the next three years to further support its studio sessions program in developing local theatre works.

"It will allow us to help artists to develop their work," said Merrigong artistic associate Anne-Louise Rentell.

Merrigong's studio sessions venture provides marketing, staff and production help to selected Illawarra productions, helping small-scale works find a wider audience through Merrigong's reputation and reach.

Last year, the theatre development program helped improvised on-stage memoir This is War Zone Baby, Improvise!, circus performer Heidi Hodeo's Circus Rodeo and University of Wollongong play The Defence make it on to the big IPAC stage.

Operated "on a shoestring budget" recently, according to Ms Rentell, the annual $50,000 injection would allow the program to support three productions per year.

"Program Presenter grants are for organisations with a track record of successfully developing new, high-quality contemporary theatre work," a spokesperson for the Australia Council said.

"It will be used for its Merrigong studio sessions to develop and present new contemporary work from independent artists."

Ms Rentell said Merrigong was now on the lookout for worthy ideas to support.

"There will be three opportunities curated by us. Our existing support will continue, but some will get extra support," she said.

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