BTC Update – APRIL 2023
It is with pleasure I present my report to you for the previous year. 2022 was a recovery year after several pandemic interrupted years and as we were able to develop a full calendar of events and successfully produce six productions. We began the year in January with BTC’s Tribe Youth Theatre production of “Cats” after this had production had had several postponements and cast changes. We were finally able to stage this show at the Girton Black Box theatre and it was very well received by all audience members. Congratulations to cast and crew members for their huge efforts resulting in the show being very creative and a visual success.
Our next show was the courtroom drama that had again seen a number of postponements and that show was “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” This play by Jeffrey Archer was very well received and again demonstrated that high quality productions can be staged in our very own black box theatre with innovative sets created on the stage. This enabled the cast to rehearse on the set very early in the rehearsal process. It also means that the bump in and out are minimal and easily achieved.
At the end of March and early April we again staged one of the years favourite small productions with our 10 X 10 season. Once again, this production enabled new talent to be discovered and produced a program of ten very different and entertaining short plays.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was our major production for the company and this production in the amazing Ulumbarra theatre was a feast for audiences. It comprised a talented group of local actors and the production crew worked tirelessly to produce a wonderful family show. In particular, the visual aspects of this show were a real highlight which included the sets, properties and lighting.
In September BTC’s Tribe Youth Theatre presented the play “Puffs” and this presented some challenges both with the set and properties complexity and the consequent bump in and out of Gorton’s black box theatre. A challenging play in some respects but well handled by the young cast and the actors and crew are to be congratulated in the final result.
The Christmas concert was the next event on the calendar and was planned to be presented in December and as in previous occasions would be staged at the Schweppes Centre. As has been the situation with previous concerts, Win TV in would provide the organisational aspect of this event with BTC just providing the entertainment section. Unfortunately, after months of rehearsal, due to increasing costs and other management issues, the event was cancelled. However, BTC committee in consultation with the concert production team decided to go ahead with the concert and hold it at BTC’s Arts Shed and provide an opportunity for fundraising for Bendigo Health through a donation process. This event was well attended and the company was able to send a donation of around $650 to Bendigo Health.
Looking to the future we have a number of challenges and many exciting opportunities for the company. Firstly, during 2022 the committee made the decision that we would not be able to successfully produce the same number of shows each year. Since 2018 the company has produced two major musical, two plays, a 10 x 10, a Christmas concert, workshops and fundraising events each year. This resulted in the burnout of several major volunteers who were unfortunately lost to the company for the foreseeable future. This level of commitment cannot be sustained and hence the decision to plan to have a one major musical and one play each year with these events being shared between Tribe and the senior company. Hence in 2024 BTC will produce a major musical in September and Tribe will produce a play in April.
Secondly, as the company approached 2023, we received the news that Bendigo Council were planning to conduct significant works at the Arts Shed and we would need to cease any major productions during the January to July period for these renovations to take place.
This work comprised a major upgrade to the electrical system, a false ceiling installed in the black box theatre, installation of heating and cooling in the theatre to improve climate control, the removal of the storage container and replacement with a new storage shed and some flooring, painting and other maintenance programs. The committee recognised that although this would be a serious imposition on our ability to produce our regular program of shows, the overall benefit to company would be enormous and would see the continued development of the arts shed into a fully functional and viable performing arts venue supporting all productions. We have since learned that the disruption to the use of the shed will be further extended but we will continue to plan for all eventualities and will diligently plan for our 2023/24 program. In addition, the committee has made the decision to fund the building of additional toilet and changing room facilities adjacent to the small rehearsal room so that we can be fully compliant with child-safe regulations and produce multi-age production at the BTC shed. This will involve significant funds and hence the fundraising showcase next week to assist with this.
BTC is recognised as the premier theatre group in Bendigo being the only current company producing award winning production in Ulumbarra theatre. Also, with our recent milestone of seventy years since our formation, over two hundred productions and having the support of many thousands of actors, volunteers and audience members we can be very proud of our achievements. However, as a company we are only as strong as our membership and I would encourage everyone to continue to renew your membership, particularly in this period of down time so we have a strong base of support, and to look at ways to further assist the company through volunteer services. Since the pandemic, many organisations have faced a dwindling volunteer base and BTC has certainly seen this. In addition, a number of our older volunteers are reaching a stage where their continued involvement will continue to taper off and unless we get replacements this will adversely affect the company. To take a well know phrase and unashamedly rehash it I encourage every member to ‘Think not what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company’
To the retiring committee member Jerry Steen. Thank you for your work and we greatly admire your expertise that you have brought to the company and all the best for your endeavours in America. We know that you will be involved the company in the future and believe that you will still have regular contact with the company while overseas.
To the continuing committee I thank most sincerely for your hard work during last year and your willingness to continue to be involved. We have faced some difficult times be your dedication is greatly appreciated.
Thank you and that concludes my report.
Yours in theatre,