Entries open for prestigious playwright award

Belvoir is now accepting entries for The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award, open to all writers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

The Award is open to everyone from the most experienced playwrights, to people just starting out on their first works.

The winner will receive a $7,500 cash prize and a $12,500 commission to write a new play with the support of Belvoir.

Now in its fifth year, The Balnaves Award has become one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia, be it for Indigenous or non-Indigenous writers, and the calibre of entries and winners has consistently proven the depth of talent in the Indigenous theatre industry.

The Balnaves Award is an act of generosity from The Balnaves Foundation. As noted by Wesley Enoch, a previous judge and Artistic Director of Sydney Festival, Indigenous storytelling does not always fit the structures of funding models offered by government organisations, which makes this specifically designed award even more important.

In the past four years the award has recognised playwrights Katie Beckett, Leah Purcell, Jada Alberts and Nakkiah Lui, but also inspired many Indigenous artists to dream up new plays.

“We have uncovered some extraordinary talent through this award,” said Hamish Balnaves, The Balances Foundation general manager. “In Belvoir’s 2016 season, the first Balnaves Award commission to be completed will have its world premiere. We cannot wait to see what the formidable Leah Purcell has done with her adaption of Henry Lawson’s The Drovers Wife, and even better, she’s playing the title role.

“Our aim with The Balnaves Award is not just to encourage and support Indigenous playwrights in their writing, but to see their story and vision through to production. This is why we fund both the Award and the production of Indigenous-led work at Belvoir.”

Since 2011 the Foundation has supported the presentation of two Indigenous-led works per year as part of Belvoir’s annual season. To further their commitment to the telling of Indigenous stories through theatre, the Foundation has committed $20,000 per year to this annual award. The Foundation is committed to working towards reconciliation and has supported numerous Indigenous arts projects, including the creative development of I Am Eora and Black Diggers for the Sydney Festival.

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