Australian Theatre Forum

The Australian Theatre Forum, run by Theatre Network Australia (TNA)is a landmark meeting place for Australian theatre industry professionals. Held in different locations around the country, this biennial event strengthens theatre as an art form by addressing current issues regarding policy and practice, sharing knowledge and view points, and cultivating fresh ideas that will, in turn, enrich Australian art, culture and society.



In 2017 and 2018, as part of planning the next ATF – the 6th since the first one in 2009 (produced by the Australia Council) - TNA undertook a review of the ATF.

In response to sector changes and feedback from the sector, we employed consultant Andrew Bleby to do a desktop review of the ATF, including analysing the feedback from past evaluation surveys. A discussion paper was prepared, and after receiving valuable feedback to the paper from members and other stakeholders, we planned changes and refocused our priorities.  Overall, we determined that we need to be very clear about who the ATF is for and what it provides them. In a nutshell we will:

  • Keep the focus on artists (55% of ATF attendees are artists);
  • Keep the focus on ensuring diversity – over half of the attendees identify as diverse:either First Nations, from a CaLD background, as a person with a disability, LGBTIQ+, and/or Regional/Remote;
  • Continue the successful Independent EOI strategy;
  • Continue to prioritise new voices – around 65% first-timers means true sector development, plus some oldies for continuity!;
  • Continue to have no more than 25% producers, and 20% ‘supporters’ (presenters, peaks, govt reps, academics);
  • Address problems around uneven facilitation skills;
  • Restructure the model in response to sector changes.

Here are a few of the changes:

  • We will run a creative facilitation program (using Deep Democracy) throughout 2019 and 2020 for a cohort of 10 leaders who will then co-curate and facilitate sessions at ATF 2021 (and leave a legacy of skills in the sector).
  • TNA has a new partnership with APAM, in its year-round operating model, and we will be contributing to the programming of national sector conversations, the first one at Asia TOPA in February 2020. 
  • This will feed into a new international and practice-based stream of sessions at ATF 2021.
  • In order to provide true intergenerational and intercultural development, we will pursue a shared leadership model for the Artistic Direction of ATF 2021.

Stay tuned (to the TNA E-news) for more updates.