For more than 35 years, the Friends of the Academy have been assisting students at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, (WAAPA).
The small but hard working Friends of the Academy Committee ensures students continue to directly receive the benefits of the Friends’ fundraising efforts and pastoral care. The help provided by the Friends Committee on behalf of the membership takes many forms, including individual assistance grants for students, a ‘meet and greet’ service for new interstate or country students arriving in Perth without local contacts, opportunities to interact with their audiences and ongoing recognition of high achievers after they leave the Academy.
Financial grants are provided mainly to supplement travel and accommodation for final year students undertaking work experience secondments around Australia and overseas. In addition to individual grants of up to $600 each, and group grants of $15,000, the Friends provide almost $20,000 each year to help fund the annual Showcase tour that sees final year Musical Theatre and Theatre students demonstrating their talent for promoters and agents in Sydney and Melbourne.
While annual membership fees from the more than 1,000 members of the Friends help provide student assistance, most of the money to pay for these benefits is generated from fundraising each year. Fundraising activities include Friends performances, hosting behind-the-scenes tours of the Academy, and providing food and drink at the Academy’s annual Open Day. The Friends of the Academy benefit financially from selected student performances each semester. The performances are billed as special ‘Friends Events’ and we rely heavily on members of the Friends and the general public to support these shows because we receive a small fee to contribute towards students travel grants. Many new members don’t realise that by supporting these events they will not only still receive discounted tickets but also be able to share the complimentary light refreshments after the show, and to meet and chat with the cast and staff.
The resultant income from these events has meant that, in addition to student grants, the Friends have been able to provide the furniture and kitchen equipment for the student Green Room, a new industrial type dishwasher for the foyer bar, the lighting hoist for the theatres, a high-tech portable sound and lighting desk, a new electronic key- board, a drum kit, and assistance in purchasing major musical instruments. The list goes on.