Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards Announced

Musician, composer and collaborator extraordinaire, Iain Grandage has taken out the Individual Award ($50,000) while leading Indigenous theatre company, Ilbijerri, whose work is capturing national attention, has been recognised with the Group Award ($80,000). Philip Rolfe, producer, festival director, bureaucrat and cultural industry shape-shifter has been awarded the Facilitator’s Prize ($20,000).

The Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards were created in 1984 by the Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund at the time of the 50th anniversary of Sidney Myer’s death to commemorate his life and his love for the arts. The Awards pay tribute to outstanding excellence in drama, comedy, dance, music, opera, circus and puppetry throughout Australia.

In announcing the winners, Carrillo Gantner AO, Chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund Trustees remarked: “The 2012 winners are all outstanding in their field and have inspired us not just through their individual and collective achievements, but through their constant imaginative striving to challenge what is possible. Their dedication and creative genius has been a gift to us all.”

“Sidney Myer was a great philanthropist, patron of the arts and supporter of community life. These Awards support his belief that the arts are inseparable from everyday life and a rich society is one that expresses great creative spirit”.

Iain Grandage – Individual Winner
Iain is a thrillingly original artist and genius collaborator. The theatre, dance and cabaret stages of Neil Armfield, Michael Kantor, Meow Meow, Splinters Group and The Black Arm Band, to name just a few, have achieved extraordinary dimensions in dramatic narrative through his original music and arrangements, and no less some of the great classical music ensembles of our time including the Brodsky Quartet. He is a singular and much loved artist whose contribution is close to the heart of our performance culture.

Ilbijerri Theatre Company – Group Award
In twenty-two years of courageous and political Indigenous story-telling, Ilbijerri have performed thirty new works to audiences of more than 150,000. In the last five years under Rachael Maza’s inspired and spirited leadership, the company has been questioning what contemporary Indigenous theatre is to astonishingly powerful purpose. Ilbijerri are not just being invited to perform on the most sought after stages in the country because their art is urgent, they are challenging all theatre makers to take note of how theatre must evolve to speak truthfully to each generation.

Philip Rolfe – Facilitator’s Prize
Philip Rolfe makes things happen: he initiates, he drives change be it in organisational culture, policy, attitudes or in our relationships with the rest of the world. He’s been entrepreneurial in the best sense of that term: ambitious – not for himself but for art, artists, and organisations - whether establishing the Australian Performing Arts Market, the Producing Unit at Sydney Opera House (Message Sticks Indigenous Film Program, Luminous and Kids at the House), or more recently the Parramasala Festival in Parramatta. Philip’s conceptions are not just bravely of the moment, they are fundamentally game-changing.

Iain Grandage is a multi award‐winning artist who has composed and arranged for orchestras and choirs, opera, theatre, dance, cabaret and pop groups. His versatility has seen him colloborate with artists from Ben Folds to the Australian Boys’ Choir; on theatre productions such as Cloudstreet, The Blue Room and this year’s premiere The Secret River; with indigenous musicians from Jimmy Chi’s Corrugation Road to the Spinifex people of central Australia; and to performing with cabaret artist Meow Meow. Iain’s upcoming work is no less varied: a workshop with the Black Arm Band and the MSO, another with Victorian Opera developing Tim Winton’s The Riders, work on the ACO/Barry Humphries/Meow Meow collaboration and, finally, a new concert version of Shane Warne The Musical with 2011’s Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award winner, Eddie Perfect.

Ilbijerri has been creating challenging and inspiring theatre by indigenous artists for twenty‐two years. The company produces original works (such as 2010’s Jack Charles v The Crown, nominated for two Helpmann Awards), offers training and professional development to upcoming indigenous artists and theatre makers, tours extensively throughout Australia (over 25,000 kilometres each year, reaching 28,000 people) and collaborates with many of Australia’s premier theatre companies.

Philip Rolfe is one of Australia’s most respected arts and cultural administrators and producers. His most recent position was CEO and Artistic Director of the highly successful Parramasala Festival in Parramatta, NSW which brought world artists such as Nitin Sawhney and Asif Ali Khan to Australia. Other credits in his 35‐year career include: Executive Producer of Luminous, the first Vivid Sydney festival curated by Brian Eno; nine years as Executive Producer at the Sydney Opera House, which included the first ever tour to Australia of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and presenting the work of major artists such as Philip Glass, Akram Khan, Sylvie Guillem and Patti Smith; six years with the Australia Council working in several roles; Founder and Director of the Australian Performing Arts Market; Deputy Director, Arts and Entertainment for the Australian Bicentennial Authority; and membership of numerous peer arts funding panels.

The judges for the 2012 Awards were: Carrillo Gantner AO (Award Judging Convenor and Chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund Trustees) Rosemary Myers (Artistic Director, Windmill Theatre Company) Nigel Jamieson (Stage Director) Lyndon Terracini (Artistic Director, Australian Opera) Rob Brookman (General Manager. State Theatre Company of South Australia) Vanessa Pigrum (Arts & Culture, Darebin City Council)

Previous winners include Geoffrey Rush, Lucy Guerin, The Black Arm Band, Back to Back Theatre and Eddie Perfect.


Most read reviews

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Arguably one of the most popular and fiercely loved franchises of all time, JK Rowling’s creation of the wizarding world of Hogwarts and beloved characters of Harry, Ron and Hermione continue to delight children and adults with books, films, studio tours and a real life Platform 9 ¾ at London’s Kings Cross.

Seed Bomb | subtlenuance

Mind change trumps tree change in Daniela Giorgi’s Seed Bomb, a subtle, combustible comedy.

Romeo & Juliet | Australian Shakespeare Company

Currently celebrating their 30th year as Australia’s largest independent theatre company, the stalwart of “Shakespeare Under the Stars” continues to present the classics to audiences much to their delight.

Natalie Clein and Katya Apekisheva | Musica Viva Australia

I fell in love with Natalie Clein. Warm, unegotistical yet engaging, she spoke to the audience in the same vein as a simple remark attributed to her in the program, “The music is more important than me.”

Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Jersey Boys is a perfectly timed piece of nostalgia backed by a brilliant soundtrack.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required