History of JUTE
JUTE was founded in 1992 when three passionate women living in Cairns met and the creative sparks began to fly. JUTE’s first production launched International Women’s Day in March 1993 at the height of summer in the local arts centre, a shed, with no air conditioning. The work was fiery, raw and unique in the region; it was an instant success!
Since then, the company has dedicated itself to carving out a niche for its work and its artists. Within the first two years JUTE began to focus on new work, both text based and devised, that told stories from the region. Designed in collaboration with regional writers, the Write Sparks Program (previously titled Enter Stage Write script development program) has been the creative heart of the company from which JUTE draws almost all of its productions and from which other development programs have grown.
In 2001, JUTE secured funding, developed and, in 2004, moved into its home at the Centre of Contemporary Arts. This refocused the company to pursue a season of plays and build a diverse audience for new work in our 248-seat theatre. Over more than two decades our theatre artists and audience have been part of an extraordinary outpouring of new Australian stories that have delighted audiences and critics.
JUTE’s commitment to the vision and purpose are evidenced in its many achievements over the last 3 years:
- Employed 30 diverse artists (CALD, Indigenous, Disability) across 12 projects.
- 49 writers went through the script development program.
- Secured 24 weeks of touring for 2016.
- Secured significant philanthropic funding in 2015/16.
- Took part in the Tropics to Tropics Festival in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
- Undertook 7 co-productions and exchanges of work.
- Raised $11,160 in Pozible Crowd Funding.
- Confirmed Playlab publication of 3 new works from JUTE’s 2014 season.
- Hosted a 6 month internship for Technical Theatre student Henryk Streege from Beuth Hochschule Fur Technik, Berlin (University of Applied Science).
- Signed MOU with Department of Education & Training and Department of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Partnerships.
- Celebrated 23 years of professional practice in northern Australia.
- Engaged and mentored five emerging directors and stage managers on creative projects.
- Delivered two JUTE Regional Playwrights’ Conferences, the second conference theme was based on diversity with 64 attendees of which 12 were young and emerging artists.
These achievements are built on previous achievements such as:
- JUTE has been instrumental in developing an independent theatre sector in this region.
- JUTE is recognised as a key driver of programs that connect and strengthen the regional theatre sector.
- JUTE and KickArts Contemporary Arts successfully lobbied and gained $2.7M to develop the Centre of Contemporary Arts.
- JUTE has received two awards in recognition of its work with regional writers – The Playlab award for Services to New Work in Queensland and the Queensland Writers’ Award.
Susan Prince, Kathryn Ash and Suellen Maunder (1992)
Kathryn Ash is a playwright, actor and dramaturge. She has written over 14 plays, 12 of which have been professionally produced by JUTE and also Queensland Theatre Company. Her play Bag O’ Marbles, a lively family drama won The New York Dramatists’ Exchange, a national award that took the play and the playwright to New York. Regular JUTE Theatre audience members may also remember some of her other plays produced by JUTE including Digging In (1998), Flutter (2004), Pop (2005), Hands Of Lesser Men (as part of JUTE’s 7 Deadly Australian Sins production of 2008) and Cake! (2008). Ash was also one of the driving forces behind the instigation of JUTE’s award-winning and highly respected script development program, Enter Stage Write, which has opened career pathways for many regional playwrights. She is a founding member of JUTE, and is delighted to work with the company on a project by project basis.
Suellen has lead the company for the past 15 years as it developed into a nationally recognised, multi-award winning regional theatre company. Suellen is a director, actor, producer and mentor to many emerging artists and theatre companies. In her role of Artistic Director & Chief Executive Officer of JUTE Theatre Company, Suellen was one of the key players in gaining $2.7m in capital works funding from State Government for the building of JUTE’s home in Abbott Street, Centre of Contemporary Arts. She was integrally involved in the design and development of the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns and consulted on the $2m rehearsal studio development at the Centre. From 2009 – 2012 Suellen served on the Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts and in 2011/2012 was a member of the Arts Queensland Sector Plan Reference Group. From 2000 – 2007, Suellen was a Trustee of the Board of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust and was an Adjunct Lecturer at JCU, Cairns Campus, 2008 – 2012. She is committed to the development of regional theatre makers and the growth of the regional theatre sector.
Susan has been performing for over 45 years. She is an actor, director and playwright. When JUTE began Susan was also the costumier, lighting designer and operator. One of Susan’s main passions is working with young people, people with a disability, those at risk and indigenous cultures. “I find that working with young people, there is the opportunity for the next generation to grow using the arts as a modality for them to shape their culture”. She has worked extensively throughout the Gulf Savannah regions on community projects. Susan has performed in over 70 productions and has written 15 plays. She has won the JUTE Award for Excellence in Acting and an Encouragement Award from ‘The Australian Playwright Competition’ for her play ‘Aids the Musical’.