Theatre Forum began back in the late ’90s. At that time, companies and artists felt that they were working in isolation, and that the sector was fragmented. The theatre community was a series of individual relationships and conversations. Many felt that the community needed to get organised.
A group of theatre practitioners met and connected more by networking and sharing. They met informally for four or five years, moving around the country gathering members. There was no organisation and no staff, but great energy. It quickly became apparent the industry needed a united voice.
Everyone agreed there should be less separation between the presenters of work (venues and festivals) and the makers of work (artists and presenters, touring companies). The sector wanted a collective voice to advocate for the performing arts to government as well as supporting the Arts Council’s advocacy.
In 2003, Theatre Forum was incorporated. Its mission was to be the collective voice for the performing arts, to represent the disparate views of members including theatre, dance and opera production companies as well as venues, festivals and individual artists. Support for each other and to improve circumstances for people making work was part of the thinking at that time too.
To this day, Theatre Forum is driven by its members and their concerns. The board is elected by the members. Members decide the company’s strategic priorities and set the agenda. The company works with members and partners in order to build and sustain a stronger performing arts community.