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Currency House Platform Papers

TNA partners with Currency House to launch and create industry dialogue around Platform Papers – extended performing arts essays that are published quarterly to fuel 
the current debate. The purpose of Platform Papers is to give artists and other practitioners the opportunity to speak out, independently, about the health of their practice. Papers are available from

Future launch events for Currency House Platform Papers are listed in the events section. Please check back for more information, or subscribe to our monthly eNews using the Sign Up form to the right of this page to receive TNV event notifications.

Previous Industry Events

by Cathy Hunt

This paper was the Keynote Address at TNA’s 2015 Victorian Theatre Forum, CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE, with author Cathy Hunt interviewed by Julian Meyrick. 27th November, 2015. Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne.

In the week this paper went to press Malcolm Turnbull challenged and overturned the incumbent Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a late-night ballot and announced the appointment of Senator Mitch Fifield as Minister for Communication and the Arts. Now Australia waits to see if this new leadership will overturn the hasty decision by former Minister George Brandis to seize more than $120 million from the Australian Council arts budget and place it under his own control. This paper shows this ill-conceived action has exposed the fragility of our national arts funding, and the urgent need for change. Cathy Hunt responds to this challenge by arguing that only changes at a system level to the task of building sector resilience will enable the excellence called for to be achieved. This must include introducing a new funding framework with government and the philanthropic sector working together, new business models and new forms of financing to get there. Her findings are surprising.

by Katharine Brisbane

This paper was launched at ABC Southbank, Melbourne on Tuesday 5th May 2015 as part of ABC RN’s Books and Arts program. Featuring Presenter Michael Cathcart in conversation with author Katharine Brisbane, the launch was broadcast across Australia at 10am, 7th May on RN.

What is art? What is culture? And what value do we place upon it today? Theatre critic and historian Katharine Brisbane looks back on our changing culture and the way public subsidy since 1968 has built massive opportunities for our artists, performers and those who have built an industry around them. She also traces the divisions that grew between the community and the arts sector, and the divide created by regulation between art and commerce. She concludes that the promised ‘pursuit of excellence’ has been fulfilled and exhausted; and proposes a way to salvage the achievements public subsidy has brought. She proposes throwing open our major institutions to public investment and private enterprise, releasing creativity into new directions and reconsidering how we might together build an inclusive cultural environment.


by John Senczuk

This paper was launched as part of TNV’s 2015 Australian Theatre Forum at the Seymour Centre, Sydney in January 2015. The event saw theatrical polymath John Senczuk in conversation with critic Martin Portus and featured musical highlights from singers and pianist/composer Tim Cunniffe.

If Australians love musicals so much, why are there so few big works telling our own stories with our own music? In this provocative new Platform Paper from Currency House, theatre designer, director and scholar John Senczuk dismisses each excuse and proposes a national development program to sustain new work right through to commercial readiness. In The Time is Ripe for the Great Australian Musical, Senczuk argues that –despite audiences for musical and opera representing 30% of national market share – this special fusion of music, theatre and dance remains largely unsupported.


by Meg Upton with Naomi Edwards

This paper was launched at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne on Wednesday 12th November 2014. Authors Meg Upton and Naomi Edwards were joined by Suzie Thomas (Melbourne Theatre Company), Dr. Christine Sinclair (Melbourne University) and Christian Leavesley (Arena Theatre Company) in a facilitated discussion by Martin Portus.

Extensive research shows how transformative the arts are to learning and understanding. But while both education and arts organisations are at one on this, they are a long way from understanding each other’s practice. The authors of this paper argue that for live theatre to prove its relevance in the digital age, young people must become the core business of every creative arts company in Australia.


by Julian Meyrick

This paper was launched at Auspicious Arts Incubator, Melbourne on Tuesday 20 May, 2014. Author Julian Meyrick was in discussion with playwright Lally Katz followed by an informal Q&A with the attendees.

In 2013, growing dismay over changes in the repertoire of Australian theatre erupted in a debate about the value of original drama versus adaptations of classic plays. Julian Meyrick believes the adaptive mindset goes back further than the present quarrel, to the beliefs and practices of Australian theatre’s commercial founders. Today we need both forms more than ever: the benchmarks of the classics and the challenges of the new; but we have lost our dramatic consciousness. We have surrendered the ground won for our playwrights by the New Wave. Audiences no longer appreciate the difference between creating a new play and buying an old one, and both the theatre profession and public policy contribute to this confusion. Making new work is hard primary research. To succeed we need a dedicated national theatre, a co-commissioning, co-production house that will address seriously the development of new Australian drama—and the construction of our own classic repertoire.


by David Pledger

This paper was launched at Theatre Network Victoria, South Melbourne on Friday 2 August, 2013. The event featured an address by author David Pledger followed by an audience discussion facilitated by Dr Mark Williams.

What is the real value we put on our artists? The author examines the long-awaited national cultural policy, Creative Australia, and finds it offers much to praise but fails ‘to penetrate the lower depths wherein the independent artists hang out’. His paper addresses the problems and achievements of the independent artist and their role as outriders of the arts, sometimes so far ahead they are out of mind. What kind of an industry do we work in, he asks, when its primary producers live on or below the poverty line? What would happen if artists decided that they would no longer work under these conditions? Pledger proposes action to find out.

Watch David Pledger’s launch address here.

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