2020 President's Report

News & Community

2020 President's Report

June 17, 2020

Dear Members of Willoughby Theatre Company,

2019 proved beyond all doubt that the stability of this not for profit Theatre Company is solid and sustainable due to the efforts of so many people who sacrifice many hundreds of volunteer hours to maintain our production standards and our financial future. To you all I say thank you, I truly appreciate all that you do and am humbled by the dedication of our casts and crews, as well as management, who maintain our status as one of the leading non-professional theatre companies in NSW.

MAY 2019 Sweet Charity
With a flash back to the 1984 production of Sweet Charity, we felt it time to revitalize this marvellous show to audiences once again and re-live those hit songs like Big Spender, Rhythm of Life and I'm a Brass Band. With a production team headed by Janina Hamerlok, Harry Collins, and Melissa Ayres and set design by Simon Greer, we were guaranteed a superb production and we got it in spades. All stops were pulled out to make this show a winner, however as you will see in our financials the audiences were below our expectations. Such a pity as the set, lighting, costumes and talent was outstanding. If you missed it - I am sorry, it was fantastic.

JUNE 2019 Launch of ROCO and the 2020 Season
ROCO? What does this mean? It means the Register of Community Organisations. And what does that mean? It means WTC now has official Charity Status and can offer Tax Deductible receipts for all donations to the company. Any funds so donated must be used for productions only and not to off-set management costs. We took over the Pavilion Room at the Concourse and over 200 loyal supporters attended to hear of our new status and to hear what 2020 had in store. The response was very pleasing with pledges coming in (and can still come in) to help us sustain this great company.

JULY 2019 The Cabaret Season
Both WTC and Century Venues (The Concourse) felt that the five years of staging the “Magic of the Musicals” in the concert hall was due for a change. They were highly successful shows and provided an avenue for choir and performers together with a 30 piece orchestra to showcase much loved music. However, it was time for something different and that came in the form of a Cabaret Season, in the Pavilion Room, around tables with bar service and snacks available to patrons in a true cabaret setting. The production team of Tom Sweeney, Mark Pigot and Janina Hamerlok gathered 12 amazing performers, selected 26 songs from the A-Z of Musical Showstoppers, added arrangements by Mark, a four-piece band and created a two hour musical journey which audiences loved. I want to thank Sean Clarke for his creative lighting and Joy Sweeney for the elegant costumes What fabulous feedback did we receive from the 700 patrons who attended the four performances? Please do it again they said! And so we will in August 2020.

OCTOBER 2019 Fiddler on the Roof
2019 was always intended to be a year of revivals and so we selected Sweet Charity and Fiddler on the Roof, both much loved shows from our archives. A number of elements evolved that guaranteed our success with this show. First we were able to appoint Andrew Benson as Director (you’ve seen him on stage many times), Matt Herne as Musical Director ( a new musical genius to WTC) and Stephanie Edwards as choreographer (remember Tina Sparkle in Strictly Ballroom?). With the help of Murray Dwyer we purchased the brilliant set designed by Simon Greer and the costumes from Moriah College in Waverly. This was a beautiful production with brilliant direction, remarkable dancing, great vocals and stunning costumes added by Chris Pitcairn. The cast and patrons adored this heart- warming and poignant tale of family traditions and separation. People still remark on how much they enjoyed this show. Audiences responded with excellent attendances and so another great show was instilled into our memory and into our archives.

This building remains one of our most valuable assets with sets, props and costumes which from time and time get recycled to save money. Nearly all of the Sweet Charity costumes and The Cabaret costumes were sourced from our stock, saving thousands.

SEPTEMBER 2019 Spring Fair
This annual festival of everything multi-cultural and community based was blessed with a perfect day, with thousands of people flooding the main streets of Chatswood to enjoy the food and the stalls. WTC again had a prime position promoting our shows and our commitment to Council activities. Thanksto Nikole, Peter, Taz, Terry Smith, our Fiddler Cast and all the volunteers who helped on the day. COUNCIL GRANTS Our heartfelt thanks to Melanie Smith the Community Culture; Leisure Director for Willoughby Council, together with Debra, the General Manager, who submitted to Council a proposal to grant WTC a $10,000 grant for a period of five (5) years. Council accepted the proposal and so we breathe a little better knowing that for the first time in 62 years we have funding for 2020-2024. In addition, we were able to access the Council Community Arts Subsidy of $5000 for performances in the Concourse for both Sweet Charity and Fiddler. Thank you Willoughby City Council!

As mentioned earlier, we now have the ability to attract Partners and Patrons and offer them tax deductible receipts. We can announce that for 2020 we welcome a major show partner with co-naming rights for all of our 2020 productions. We are extremely grateful to StorageWorks and the Lee family for their support of the performing arts. Donations as little as $100 to $1000 are Patrons with major sponsorships of $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000 are all eligible to be Show Partners. Please contact me on 0411 709 380 or head to our website for more details.

As we approach the election and I hope in many cases the re-election of people for our Committee, I take this opportunity to thank Felicity, Taz and Stig all their dedication and hard work in 2019. I also acknowledge the help of Arnold Andrews in the marketing team, Murray Dwyer for managing our Roseville Storage and Leonie Lovell and Fiona Harsanyi for mentoring Felicity in her first year as financial manager. We will be hoping to fill the current vacancies of Asst. Tech Director and the renamed position of "Executive Assistant" on 18th March. To my Board; Janina, Scott, Peter, Nikole and Sean I cannot express enough how grateful I am as President to have you as the "engine room" of WTC. I am also heartened that a new breed of members are coming through to breathe new and fresh ideas into the Company and ensure its success well into the future.

We said a sad goodbye to both Doug Forsyth OAM and Clive Davis who passed away during 2019. Doug was a co-founder and past president of WTC and Clive was a committee member and performer.

What other company has achieved all that WTC has done in one year? It's truly amazing. 2020 will be my last year as President as I will step down at the next AGM in 2021 having spent, together with Joy, 51 years as a member of the Society and now Company and nearly 40 years on Committee and Board of this vibrant and highly successful community based organisation.

Best wishes,