Sydney's independent theatre scene has lost a significant voice, with the unexpected closure of the Rock Surfers Theatre Company. The company made the sad announcement earlier this week, revealing that "due to a shift in funding priorities," they no longer had the capital to remain open.
"Ticket sales only cover a fraction of the cost of delivering an annual program for professional arts organisations. Support from foundations, individual giving and investment from local and government bodies are crucial in helping us to achieve our onstage ambitions," read a statement by Rock Surfers Chair Nell Schofield. "Every effort has been made to find alternative funding to bridge the gap and we have been incredibly well supported by the Waverley Council, but we feel now that winding down the activities of the Company is the only responsible form of action."
Rock Surfers Theatre Company began its life as Tamarama Rock Surfers in 1996. In the almost two decades since they've produced more than 200 stage shows and helped launch the careers of numerous local actors and theatremakers, including Tim Minchin, Ewen Leslie and Sarah Snook. News of the company's demise has been met with dismay by local theatre lovers, with many expressing their feelings on the company's Facebook page.
The closure marks the latest blow to Australia's independent arts community, which has been feeling the pinch of major budget cuts announced by the Abbott government last year. The Turnbull government has pledged to reassess their funding priorities, but for Rock Surfers at least, it appears to be too late. The company's Artistic Director Shane Bosher confirmed to ArtsHub that they unsuccessfully applied for Australia Council funding in September, and had been similarly unlucky with Arts NSW.