Any theatre-lover in Perth will be very familiar with the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), as a world-leading performance school that has launched the careers of some of Australia’s biggest stars including Hugh Jackman, Tim Minchin, Lisa McCune, Virginia Gaye, Eddie Perfect and the list goes on.
Less well known is the group of passionate individuals who have, for the last 38 years, provided support to WAAPA and its students by regularly attending productions and financing the secondments of the next generation of Australian performers.
Friends of WAAPA was launched in 1983 by a group of avid theatre-goers who love the arts and are invested in supporting local arts and culture. Now made up of over 500 members, through donations and fundraising initiatives Friends of WAAPA have helped promising students to achieve their dreams of a career either on stage or behind the scenes.
Dedicated to supporting WAAPA’s students, the team at Friends of WAAPA provides assistance including individual student grants, which go towards travel and accommodation for final year students obliged to attend a secondment as part of their studies. Annually, they provide over $60,000 in students grants, on top of putting $30,000 towards WAAPA’s annual showcase tour that sees final year Music Theatre and Acting students travel over east to Sydney and Melbourne to perform in front of talent scouts. Grants are also given to students in WAAPA’s prestigious Aboriginal Performance program, which prepares Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for a career in theatre, film, television and radio.
Recipients of Friends of WAAPA’s student grants include LINK Dance Company, who were able to travel to and perform on stages in cities such as Marseille and Montpellier as part of their international tour in 2016. It has also enabled talented young students across dance, arts management and theatre to pursue training at world-class institutions in New York, Sydney, Melbourne and Canada. The support that they provide to WAAPA and its students is incredible, and given purely out of an interest in seeing the arts thrive and grow.
Fundraising activities, including exclusive members’ performances and behind the scenes tours of the academy, which have proven exceptionally popular and consistently sell out. The benefits of becoming a member include discounted tickets, priority advance bookings with no booking fees, plus invitations to special Friends events such as post-show Q&A sessions where the audience can ask questions of the cast and crew. Considering some of the stars that have come out of WAAPA, it’s a rare opportunity to have an informal interview with the next Tim Minchin.
In light of the announcement that WAAPA will be moving into the heart of the city in 2025 with the development of a state-of-the-art city campus, membership will open up even more opportunities to experience the best of live performance on a regular basis. WAAPA is expected to host 300 performances at the new campus every year, which is set to attract thousands of spectators into the city. Becoming a member of Friends of WAAPA means that theatre-goers will have priority access to tickets for shows that often quickly sell-out.