Could the CAT Awards have a future?

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CATS founder Coralie Wood

FOLLOWING recent news that the registered company the “CAT Awards” would wind up on June 30, a note of confusion has set in.

While the closure of the company did go ahead as planned, with its co-founder, publicist Coralie Wood, announcing that she would step back from her involvement, news is to hand that a group of representatives from Canberra’s theatre companies met at Kaleen High School on June 27 to discuss the future of theatre awards in Canberra.

The meeting followed a message circulated by members of the former CATS board to 24 Canberra theatre companies proposing a discussion about whether the Canberra theatre community had an appetite for continuing with an awards system to discover that real issues existed with the former CAT Awards system, especially in light of diminishing Canberra membership.

Of the 24 companies contacted, 19 responded positively and representatives from 14 companies attended the meeting with apologies from five, mainly dance schools.

A variety of presentations from different theatre companies canvassed ideas such as whether any new awards should have another name, should be open to all or have nominal entry fees, or should focus on Canberra and Queanbeyan alone with schools and colleges no longer included.

The possibility of setting up an award in the name of Ms Wood was raised.

But it has emerged that a segment of the theatre community is still using the name CATs, which now reverts to Wood, who is believed to be keen to continue the regional aspect to the awards.

Founded by Wood and performer-entrepreneur Kate Peters in 1994, the Canberra Area Theatre Awards (later simply the CATs) grew to embrace schools, universities and colleges and the wider region over its 25 years of operations, attracting generous grants from the NSW Government.

A working group of 11, comprising representatives from 10 theatre/dance companies, has now been formed. This is not as yet a formal committee, but rather a group of committed theatre representatives following up on issues raised at the meeting.

CATs board to close awards after 25 years


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