There’s alot of change at the moment- well- I am sure there is always alot of change- its just I have the time to notice it at the moment. There are movements in the theatre sector- Artistic directors announced, seasons launched, programs developed and changes- the theatre, the biological microcosm that it is- is expanding, dying off, burning, growing epicormic shoots, and its all in the natural course of things- natural selection.

It would be terribly amiss of me not to acknowledge one significant change I will feel the loss of and that is the ceasing of the regular (and not so regular) writings of Nicholas Pickard aka Sydney Arts Journo.

It seems that sometimes in the land of blogs/ e-pistles/ “the blogosphere”/ online journalism/ electronic commentary (whatever you call it) that there are a thousand voices making contributions that range from “wow I love the wallpaper I just bought” to “Britney spears is a bitch”… and amongst all the dross and the self-reflexive narcissistic junk, there are little windows into significant and intelligent discussion… My list of people I read regularly are- James Waites, Kevin Jackson, Theatre Notes, Sydney Arts Journo…. and I bounce between these bloggers and more refined online websites- and less refined…. I’m no snob- I’ll read it all!

And in the last little bit , Alison Croggan aka Ms Theatre Notes has said-
“Over the past few months, it’s become very clear to me that TN is unsustainable. I love doing this, but it eats me up; and I can’t delude myself any more that it isn’t at the expense of my own work. I haven’t finished a single project now for more than 18 months, and that is beginning to weigh heavy. I’ll be considering a number of options, but I might as well warn you that one of them is ceasing blogging (if not theatre going) altogether next year.”

Sustainability is a tricky one- on one hand Alison Croggan is purely independant- sans funding or sponsorship to contribute to the landscape of theatre culture as she has been- but writers can’t live off air and sunlight. What is the cost of independence? What is its value if it can’t be sustainable? I think in the case of Croggan- it remains true- just because she is not paid does not mean it has no value. In fact I believe it has more- her contribution means more because it is an ulitmate gift of time and energy…. which is missed and appreciated more than she may know.

But when you are giving so much… something’s gotta give. Croggan should pursue her own writing- her own career- as she sees fit. Nick Pickard should pursue his noble aspirations… and I am sure there will be a time for me too…

Sydney Arts Journo also has declared its now time to move on, to take up the position of Arts Policy Advisor to the State Government. Which is wonderful as I have found Nick to be highly intelligent and passionate arts advocate (how can he NOT after 3 years of supporting theatre through documenting and reviewing). And as Nick moves on- I wanted to thank him for always fighting for the little guy- the independent and the local practitioners. I’d like to thank him for leading the discussion, leading this online platform… for the casual chats we’ve had at The Fitz or at Belvoir or Griffin. He is, as I’ve said, a top bloke who has been honest and supportive of arts discussion in Sydney.

Sydney Arts Journo’s blurb says : “The Sydney Arts Journo blog is designed to bring praise, criticism and discussion to the performing arts and cultural industries of Sydney. It’s a place to share ideas, voice concerns as well as being a forum to provoke consideration and passion.”

And this is a vital part of our theatrical and cultural landscape.

I believe in discussion, debate, conversation as the key to a diverse and therefore healthy theatre eco-system. We need robust thinking, confident and compassionate voices- talking about how/ what/ where/ who. SAJ has been an historian of the Sydney scene for the last few years- and many voices have been added to the chorus and we need to keep this going.

Personally, I’ll miss Nick around the traps -and the use of the phrase “to Nick Pick” something…. but his new opportunity is brilliant- for him and the arts and I wish him well.

I hope that for you out there (if you do exist), that you can be inspired to engage with bloggers et al about the arts- that we can disagree still speak articulately about what we want from our arts, what culture means to us and why it is important. For we need everyone to join in the conversation- punters, practitioners, journos, critics- so that we have a strong and robust arts culture.

So thanks Nick Pickard- for encouraging debate, for provoking thought and for allowing a space to share ideas and concerns- I’ll miss you!