• performing

22 February 2021

Four of Victoria's independent performing arts producers and production houses will receive grants to help them support a range of independent artists as well as build new skills, develop their businesses and foster local, national and international networks.

The Victorian Independent Producers Initiative (VIPI) is a Victorian Government initiative, delivered in partnership with Theatre Network Australia, which recognises the vital role producers play in developing the careers of performing artists, addresses a shortage of Victorian producers and bolsters the recovery of the independent performing arts industry from the effects of COVID-19.

Each of the four recipients will receive grants of $35,000pa over the next three years, through the initiative's Unlocking Capacity stream.

Recipients include Sonya Suares, an experienced creative producer and theatre-maker; Freya Waterson, who works with a range of contemporary performing artists and companies; Malia Walsh, an established producer based in the Macedon Ranges; and Kath Papas Productions who works with independent artists across contemporary dance and theatre.

In turn, recipients will support independent artists and organisations such as: Vidya Makan, Alisa Tanaka-King, The People and Sangam Festival through Sonya Suares; Alisdair Macindoe, Chamber Made, Lilian Steiner, Lucy Guerin Inc and Melanie Lane through Freya Waterson; the artists from Circus Trick Tease; and Yumi Umiumare, Finucane and Smith Unlimited, Gregory Lorenzutti, Sandra Fiona Long and Mainteater, and Kate Hunter through Kath Papas Productions.

This is the second round of the Unlocking Capacity program, a third round will open for applications in the second half of 2021.

The VIPI Producers Mentorship Program will open for applications in the first half of 2021 and the VIPI Salon Series - professional development sessions, networking and peer learning - will run regularly throughout the year.


Sonya Suares

Sonya is an independent producer, director and theatre-maker with more than two decades of experience working in film, television and theatre. The Unlocking Capacity grant will enable Sonya to support an ambitious slate of projects including Vidya Makan’s new musical, The Lucky Country, Cancel Bigots (The People) and This Is Us (Alisa Tanaka-King, Ania Reynolds and Amy Sole), and Sangam Performing Arts Festival of South Asia.

Malia Walsh

Malia produces under the banner of Circus Trick Tease (CTT) and is based in the Macedon Ranges. The grant will support her to build business momentum and sustainability by enabling CTT to relaunch three productions for tour in regional areas; develop and integrate new protocols; and expand Hand 2 Hand Incentive, an initiative that provides seed funding and mentoring to emerging artists. The grant will also enable Malia to continue Ground Running, a series of activities to support and motivate artists through the pandemic.

Kath Papas Productions

Kath Papas Productions will be supported to undertake business planning; mentoring, upskilling and producer development activities; and to deepen support for Victorian independent artists working

across contemporary dance and theatre. The grant will also enable the team to engage associate producers on an ongoing basis, and for Kath to receive mentoring.

Freya Waterson, Independent Producer

The grant will enable Freya to support the practices of an extended group of independent artists and small companies by providing a tailored producing service and access to substantial national and international networks. Freya will also help artists reimagine their practices to increase audience engagement in the context of COVID-19, as well as undertaking a series of research projects to benefit the sector more broadly.