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“Love Heart Art” photo by Ed Gregory

FROM OUR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR:

I was going to write this update as a final plea to try and ensure that our current crowdfunding campaign showed that magical “100%” figure at the top of our Australian Cultural Fund campaign page.  In a world where artists tend to give 100% percent to all we do, we don’t often get to see anything achieve a 100% success rate.  And that’s okay.  Our individual Arts projects won’t be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s why we need a diverse and multifaceted Arts industry – so there is always something for everyone to see, experience and enjoy, that caters to their personal taste and sensibility and speaks to them directly.  That is what we do as artists and why we do it – facilitate the chance to speak to you all directly, open that audience/artist conversation to introduce new ideas and thoughts and help transform each other.

As artists, we struggle with the need to ask for help, particularly financial help.  I’m not sure why – we are, after all, just another brand of entrepreneur, bringing our ideas and projects to market, hoping to have an impact on the world.  I know that I do this work with the hope that by sharing it with you guys, I give you a chance to laugh after a hard day, cry because you need the catharsis, think because you hadn’t seen things put quite that way before, cheer the hero and boo the villain and have those precious moments when you can escape whatever you are doing and visit another world for a little while.  That’s why I watch theatre, film and television, read books and engage with fictional and factual stories.  To learn, to grow, to delight, to empathise, to live for a while outside the world I personally know.

So, it was with a slightly reluctant heart, that I set myself the task of writing this post to ask, once again – as I have done with this and other projects before, and far too many times for my personal comfort this past month in particular – for your help.

And then I saw our campaign page.

ShakespeareRepublic-Crowdfunding100

I am delighted to say that as of the time of writing, our campaign stands at 103% funded.  We have surpassed 100% and so this post has turned from a plea, to an expression of deepest gratitude for our donors, our audiences and everyone who shared our updates, commented on social media, emailed family and friends, and, most importantly, put their hands in their pockets to give us their hard-earned cash to help us continue the work that is Shakespeare Republic.

The past couple of weeks have been very hard for the Arts community in Australia.  Funding decisions have been handed down from the Federal and State Government funding bodies and during that process, there have been a lot of difficult phone calls, unwelcome email notifications and uncomfortable conversations.  There has also been some joy – particularly for our Indigenous colleagues, which I heartily applaud.  But, the shock of so many losing funding, or not even getting their first injection of financial help after years of self-funding and punching above their weight, has reverberated through the industry and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Shakespeare Republic is one of the lucky ones.  But only because of you, our donors.  We are an approved Creative Partnerships Australia MATCH funding project, which means that not only have we raised our full amount for the campaign through your support, but $3,000 of those donations will now be matched by the Federal Ministry for the Arts.  Through your generosity as audience, friends and colleagues, you have ensured that Shakespeare Republic receives it’s first injection of Government funding and I can’t say thank you enough. Truly.

I began my professional career in the Arts over 20 years ago.  I was young, invigorated, excited.  Naive, some might say.  Certainly green, but full of passion.  I am driven to create, for better or ill.  I was performing at 10, writing by 12 and producing and directing in my early twenties.  I have been lucky enough to work in theatre, television and film in Australia and overseas, both in front of audiences and behind the scenes and I love this business.  Does it pay well?  No, not always.  Does it fulfill me as a human being? Absolutely yes. Why? Because it’s my way of contributing to the world and gives me the chance to work with so many amazing, brilliant people who feel the same way.

I’d like to share with you something that I wrote on Facebook last week.  Feel free to skip it if you’re short on time. For everyone else – thank you for your indulgence:

That collection of creativity we know as “The Arts” is not just theatre, or visual arts or dance or music. It’s not just festivals. It’s not just literature. It’s not just public space decor. It’s all of that and much, much more.

It gives kids a chance to explore their imaginations as they grow up and, when they go into the workforce, have the kind of minds that will find the next technological or scientific breakthrough that moves our society forward. It helps stressed-out executives find new ways of dealing with workplace issues to make our businesses thrive through healthy harnessing of human potential. It gives all of us a chance to see the world through different eyes and therefore develop and expand compassion and empathy, making our country a better place to live together. It opens the door to the undiscovered, the unknown and when shared by our own voices – shows us that we CAN do whatever we dream of locally, nationally, globally.

It also provides salutary lessons in what is wrong or could go wrong if we don’t pay attention, from the safety of a stage, the pages of a book or a canvas, alerting us to danger before it seeps into reality, or pushing us to fix what is broken. It makes us feel and think and take action.

Film and television can also provide these things, but there is something about the immediacy of being physically present with a work that has double the impact on both audience and artist.  It’s one of the reasons why we wanted to take Shakespeare Republic to the stage this year – find a new way to connect to our audience and take the experiment another step further, if you like.

And thanks to all of you, that is now a whole lot more possible.  We still have to raise additional monies, and that will be our focus for the next couple of months as we endeavour to build this next season of Shakespeare Republic into what we see as it’s next evolution.

But for now, I’d like to take a moment to say “Thank You”.  Thank you to my artist colleagues, many of whom I know are facing their own funding issues right now and still found a way to donate to this project.  Thank you to those from beyond Australia’s shores, who gained no tax break for donating, no benefit at all to themselves, and yet still donated.  Thank you to those of you who likely never thought about Shakespeare before this team embarked on this project, or had any interest in seeing his works, but because of friendship and wanting to support your friends, donated.  Thank you to the strangers who fell across our project and wanted simply to support the Arts in this country and donated.  Thank you to all the businesses and individuals who put your money on the line and, despite other financial demands and concerns you may have, still donated.

Magic can happen when we come together as a community.  To many, $3,000 doesn’t seem like a lot.  Even $6,000 doesn’t seem much in many circles.  But to us, it means a solid foundation to build the next level of our work and attract the next lot of money – and that is invaluable.  From a self-funded project last year to having outside money involved this year – that’s a huge step in the right direction.  And we couldn’t do it without the help of our community.  And all our donors and sponsors are most certainly now part of the extended Shakespeare Republic family.

Thank you.  Gratitude.  Welcome.

We will continue to crowdfund over these last two days, so in part, this post is still serving it’s original intended function, in the sense that we are still accepting donations to ensure we have the best chance to create the work as we envision it.  So apologies in advance, but we’ll keep posting about the campaign until the final hour.  Every dollar donated goes straight to next season.  My role as Artistic Director is purely voluntary and as I also do all the admin and run the website and marketing (at this point – hopefully that will change if we can afford it!), because that is often the way in small Arts businesses until we start generating income, know that your money goes directly into the project.

If you haven’t yet donated and would like a tax deduction for this Financial Year (if you’re in Australia), here’s the link: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/shakespeare-republic-live/

I’d like to take this moment to also thank and acknowledge the amazing team at The Courthouse Hotel in North Melbourne, who came on board last season to support the work, allowing us to film there and hosting and sponsoring our Season One launch.  They continue, and have expanded, this association for Season Two and we couldn’t be happier.  As Incognita Enterprises (the business behind Shakespeare Republic), my office is now housed in their excellent venue, when I’m not here at home slaving away behind a keyboard, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support. If you are another Arts-Friendly business and are interested in sponsoring Shakespeare Republic for Season Two, we very much welcome hearing from you.

Thank you again, everyone, for your help with this.  Thank you to the team at the Republic, particularly Billy Smedley and Alan Fletcher who went above and beyond in helping me make this possible and keeping me sane.  Thank you to my family (Marg, that means you), for engaging with their networks to help us raise the cash because they couldn’t donate themselves (it’s one of the rules when fundraising via ACF – the artist’s immediate family can’t donate, and it’s my name on the bill as fundraiser).  Everyone’s faith, kindness and tangible support means the world to myself and the team and has moved me deeply.  Much love and thanks to all.

Wishing everyone success in their own ventures.

‘Till next we speak … see you anon.

Sally McLean
Artistic Director
Shakespeare Republic
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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