This month we heard the sad news that one of the favourites in the family is moving on from running the Matt Dann Theatre in Port Hedland.
Brad Holder , who developed a reputation for showing that no show was too good for Port Hedland audiences, ends a 16 year affair with the theatre next month.
At the tender age of 13, Brad did his first training in the venue whilst still attending the very school that houses the building. Over the ensuing 5 years of high school he would become the regular technical person, taking on the role of a paid technical position that was never replaced.
He describes his love of the venue with great excitement, cutting his teeth learning from technical staff touring with shows or helping out in music events in the town. Walking out of his final year 12 exam, he walked into his first full time job , as the tech at Matt Dann and continued his love of venues as a career.
Brad describes challenges at the popular venue including the unusual stage set up based on the Subiaco arts centre, the location inside a school with classes running, and the fact it was also a cinema that all made programming in the venue a loved and complex balancing act.
He describes Port Hedland as unique from other venues where seniors are the bread and butter of the regular audiences. A town full of families, Matt Dann needed to program differently than many regional venues with genres like children’s shows performing incredibly well.
He counts as his real success, after years of supporting local live music, programming locally written, produced and cast work. Two works in two years in a row have done an amazing amount to bring the community together and connect them. People in Port Hedland are inspired by local writers, producing, performers, musicians, staging and design and seeing 900 people for one show Brad that community engagement starts with asking the community what they want on the stage, and producing them to put it there.
Brad became known as a bit of a social media guru over the years at Matt Dann. His advice to others who are struggling for success, is take the audience on the journey of the show, people history, rehearsals, review, snippets and other background posts should be the focus with sales of tickets only a single component. He aims at 80% of his posts being story and 20% being sale.
From here on in, the performing arts world is likely to still see Brad. He operates an event business in the region and hopes to be programming touring work to fill the void that he will leave as the Shire winds down its performing arts planning.
So, don’t lose his mobile, Brad has moved jobs, but Matt Dann will very likely see him again.