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You can’t save Urban Myth - but you can save Warren


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Any hope of saving Adelaide’s Urban Myth theatre company is gone, but a crowd-funding campaign is still trying to raise enough money to save Warren – a play which more than 50 young performers have been working on for two years.

A group of former staff is also planning to continue youth theatre workshops through a new, pared-back organisation based in Unley.

Urban Myth board chairperson Paulette Kolarz said that despite publicity over the 34-year-old company’s troubles and expressions of support from the community, it had not managed to secure funds to continue operating.

A meeting was held on Monday night for the purpose of appointing a liquidator, but was adjourned until November to allow time for consideration of other options – such as de-registration or dissolution – to “more effectively provide outcomes for potential creditors”.

“Essentially we have entered into discussions with our state funding body (Carclew) so that we can organise a more orderly wind-down of the company,” Kolarz told InDaily.

Urban Myth – a not-for-profit company which for 34 years has helped young people develop artistic and personal skills through workshops, classes and performances – announced last month that it was likely to close as a result of financial problems. These were blamed partly on the fact that it took longer than expected to generate revenue from the Goodwood Institute in Unley, which it moved to in 2012.

Former Urban Myth general manager Rebecca Pannell  and visual artist and curator Kat Coppock are currently trying to raise enough money through a crowd-funding campaign so that more than 50 young people aged eight to 14 can present a play they have been working on with the company for the past two years.

The Save Warren campaign, on Pozible, has so far raised more than $3400 and has just nine days left to reach its $7250 target.

Pannell and Coppock stressed that none of the money raised would go towards clearing Urban Myth’s debts. It will instead pay for things such as theatre hire, set building materials and director’s fees for Warren, a play created and rehearsed with Adelaide playwright Sean Riley which tells of a rebellious group of rabbits on a family estate that has been plundered by its owners.

“We really need this campaign to hit the target of $7250 – and the more pledges, no matter how small, will help us to secure not only the target but more exposure for the campaign,” Pannell said.

“If all the people who have expressed sadness at the loss of Urban Myth pledge to support the Save Warren campaign, we are assured of hitting our target.”

The campaign includes a video featuring messages of support from Sean Riley and former Urban Myth director Glenn Hayden.

In a statement on the crowd-funding site, Pannell says: “I started at Urban in March 2014 just as the crisis was truly hitting, and in this brief period of time I have come to know the kids, the young adults and the parents and to respect their talent, bravery and sense of community.

“We may not be able to save the company from insolvency, but we can put on this production, and we can organise for the workshops to continue in some form, somehow, somewhere.  I am determined to make this happen and this campaign is one way of doing it.”

Pannell told InDaily that she and a group of former Urban Myth tutors were planning to launch a new youth theatre organisation focussed on providing workshops.

It has been given the working title Unley Youth Works and is in the process of securing spaces from which to operate, with a view to launching a 2015 program in November that will continue to service around 150 young people a week.

“We’re going back to the model that worked, which is basically just doing the workshops … we will keep it absolutely lean,” Pannell said.

“There will still be what we call performance outcomes – that might be an end-of-term showing for parents, it might be that we do one production a year, it might be that we do something in conjunction with someone else.

“We are going to be very cautious – we want to go back to grassroots; we want to go back to community.”

Tickets to Warren can only be purchased through the Pozible campaign.


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