Page 5128 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 17 November 2009

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Canberra area theatre awards

Miss Saigon

MR COE (Ginninderra) (4.35): I rise this afternoon to offer my support to the Canberra area theatre awards. The CAT awards are an integral component of the Canberra arts scene and ones that I think we as a community should be supporting in any reasonable way possible.

For thousands of people in the region involved in theatre, the CAT awards are the high point of their efforts and achievements over the past year. The awards recognise the many people integral to the production of plays and musicals who otherwise do not necessarily get the recognition they deserve. In addition to recognising front-of-house performers, the CAT awards also recognise back-of-house contributions, with awards such as best set designer, best costumes, best lighting designer, best choreographer, best director of a play, and others.

The CAT awards cover a large geographical area, including Batemans Bay, Bega, Bowral, Canberra, Cowra, Merimbula, Orange, Parkes, Queanbeyan, Wagga Wagga, Wellington and Yass. So the positive impact of the CAT awards extends far beyond the territory and adds considerable value throughout our region.

Given the area covered, it makes the contribution made by judges even more impressive. The judges travel considerable distances at their own expense to give support and recognition to and to assess the shows, which include school and youth performances. I would particularly like to acknowledge the judges: Ted Briggs, Garrick Smith, Ian Mclean CSC, Charles Oliver, Stephen Pike, Oliver Raymond OAM, Norma Robertson, Rose Shorney, Anne Somes, David Whitbread, Don Whitbread OAM, and Coralie Wood OAM. All those involved in the CAT awards, and in particular Coralie Wood OAM, go well above and beyond what could be expected of them. They give tirelessly of their time, energies and resources.

Last week, the Chief Minister announced the 2010 ACT arts fund recipients. It is disappointing that, once again, the CAT awards were not successful in spite of their very professional application. I recognise and welcome the independence of the panel who assess the applications. I also share the disappointment of those involved in the CAT awards who were once again rejected and deemed not worthy of any of the $1.3 million allocated to the fund. When you look at all the successful grants, the CAT awards are certainly up there with having the widest reach, and they support people of different ages and support tourism, local talent and more.

Whilst the CAT awards might not be the most “alternative” applicant, they certainly do support originality, new talent and diversity. They go a long way towards harnessing and developing a vibrant community. Obviously the CAT awards go on without the grant. However, I think it is important that we do not take the generosity of those involved with coordinating and running the CAT awards for granted. Their contribution is significant, but not endless. If the territory does not support the CAT awards, their future is far from certain. I urge the government to consider what support might be able to be offered to the CAT awards.

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