Well done to the 2023 Pinnacle Award winners

Don Russell Performing Arts Centre

In a period when patrons are being choosy about what they attend, Don Russell Performing Arts Centre has increased audience attendance by creating a full program of new, fresh and different artistic offerings peppered with feelgood tribute acts.

Led by Lys Tickner, the team’s successes include: giving more young people rich creative experiences by building strong relationships with vacation care centres; expanding from Morning Melodies to a Sundowner Series where patrons enjoy dinner with local musicians; Sunday Sounds with big bands; and Cabaret nights – a 60 minute cabaret show in the Studio space. They also created a social art workshop, Art with a Glass. And more programs are in development.

DRPAC as it is also known has also built relationships with other venues to jointly source great shows for their outer-metro audiences.

Congratulations to Lys and the whole team at Don Russell Performing Arts Centre. Thank you for continuing to be innovators in presenting performing arts and building community.

Libby Klysz

Libby Klysz is the rarest of commodities in Western Australia, an independent producer, both supporting the creation of new work and touring existing shows. Working across theatre, dance and contemporary performance, she is widely regarded as a committed and generous contributor to the Western Australian performing arts sector; a problem solver who always has ideas and is prepared to back them up with hard work.

Libby has successfully established herself as the go-to producer, trusted by presenters to bring them authentic and meaningful art, and by artists to shepherd their artistic process through the realities of budgets, logistics and timelines. Shows as diverse as The Golem, Bang, Bang, Wonder Woman, Julia and Hide the Dog have benefited from her expertise in recent years.

With Libby’s willingness to do the literal hard yards alongside them, regional presenters have introduced their audiences to thoughtful contemporary performances that they might previously have missed.  Generously, Libby actively supports emerging producers and contributes to the community at large; currently serving on the Chamber of Arts and Culture and CircuitWest boards, and previously as Chair of the Blue Room Theatre.

Libby represents the next wave of producers growing the performing arts ecology in WA. Congratulations Libby.

Jenny Simpson

The People’s Pinnacle is an award for an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the West Australian performing arts sector. A trailblazer, a leader, a performing arts guru; A person or organisation whose work embodies the aims of CircuitWest and has helped shape how we collectively improve the quality and relevance of the connection between artist and audience for communities across our State.

A stalwart and elder of the sector, Jenny is a vocal advocate for high quality performing arts experiences for all, but especially for young people. If you have ever worked with Jenny – or even talked with her briefly – you will know of the dedication, love and commitment she brings to the performing arts and her working life.

Previously the Manager, Performing Arts Touring at Country Arts WA Jenny developed and codified the Shows on the Go program. She sought out remote First Nations bands for touring in 2004 which left a legacy that resounds to this day.

Jenny joined AWESOME Arts in 2007, eventually becoming CEO and Artistic Director. Under Jenny’s passionate baton, Awesome Arts has grown from its previous incarnation to become an even more important part of children’s lives across the State. The Festival itself has grown in size and impact. It has shifted into the Cultural Centre where it has been very publicly visible in the forecourt as well as inside theatres.

A mighty champion of the benefits of performing arts for young people both as audience and participants, Jenny has worked extensively with schools to engage educators with AWESOME’s offerings and overcome barriers to their participation. In recent years under her leadership, AWESOME have been at the forefront in creating accessible pathways into the arts for children with access or additional needs to ensure they have a great festival experience.

Jenny is also endlessly supportive of artists, understanding of the unique challenges of creating work with and for young people, and has provided wise counsel, connections and platforms that have helped many West Australian artists and companies succeed in this space.

AWESOME Arts’ now iconic Creative Challenge program reaches far flung corners of the State every year; employing both local and visiting teaching artists in regional and remote communities across WA, and, like Jenny, leaving a legacy of imagination and impactful creativity in its wake.

Thank you Jenny for all that you do and congratulations on winning the People’s Pinnacle Award 2023.