Friday 3 September 2010

CALL TO ACTION: The Actors Studio needs your help!

So, I know it is the afternoon of audition day and I am going to blog about everything but there is a bigger and more pressing topic that I would like to address first.

The Wellington Actors Studio needs your help!

Barbara has been teaching the Meisner technique in Wellington for over eight years and opened the Studio last October to take her small business to the next level.
She has never had trouble to fill her classes and weekend workshops, which is testament to the amazing work she is doing. She started offering classes and workshops in camera and audition techniques, and recently took on a young actress to teach an acting class for teens part-time. Barbara also offers networking opportunities and passes on audition opportunities she comes across, blogs about the ins and outs of acting as a business and her door is always open for actors who need a pep talk, good advice or one-on-one session to prepare for their next big audition. Barbara works tirelessly, six sometimes seven days a week, 13 to 14 hour days.

She is at the point where she just can't keep up with the growing potential of the Studio all by herself any more. Like any small business the Studio is at the point were it needs to take a big leap forwards, realising its full potential or wither and die. The class schedule needs to be expanded, new teachers needs to be trained and employed, the marketing needs to be taken to the next level, an NZQA approval would be stellar and a full time, rounded programme not unlike those offered by places like the Neighborhood Playhouse or the William Esper Studio would be an absolute dream.

Just imagine a place where new actors and professionals alike could go to train full time in one of most widely recognised acting techniques (particularly with a view to the international markets!) but also take all these other classes that are invaluable for a well-rounded actor - I am thinking voice, movement and dance, script work, mask, stage combat and the like. A place that is run by industry professionals and offering an alternative to those places New Zealand already has in Toi Whakaari, AUT, and NASDA, adding another strong voice to the New Zealand film and theatre industry.

I don't know if Barbara is daring to dream this big at this stage but I hope she does because I believe in the potential of the Studio, and I believe in her potential.

The problem is, as you will well have guessed by now, that taking a step forward with any business requires resources - money and people power. Unfortunately, neither tends to just grow on trees.

The situation is even more dire though. At this point there is no way Barbara can keep up working like labourers did during the industrial revolution without breaking her back. She needs help to keep going and make the necessary changes to grow her business, this wonderful refuge for actors and anyone who wants to get back in touch again with their creativity and inner artist.

Barbara has worked tirelessly for hundreds of students over the past eight years, helping us out wherever she could, creating opportunities for us, making us braver and better actors, and encouraged us to believe in our potential and to follow our dreams, and passions, and desires. It's time for us to step up to the plate and give back to her and the place that has nurtured and helped us grow.

What the studio really needs is an investor. So, if you are or know someone who believes in the creative community of New Zealand and its potential, the Wellington Actors Studio is THE place for you to invest in.

I am also calling on Barbara's students from both her classes and workshops to give a little, so all of us can keep gaining a lot!

At the moment the Studio has to raise $20,000 in either financial or 'in-kind' contributions until the end of the year. Barbara is doing everything she can to raise that money. She is applying for grants, has a potential sponsor who would contribute a significant amount to the fund, and has brought on board several expert volunteers to help her improve her business systems and alleviate much of the pressure on her.

My fellow classmate Abby has already sent out a call to action to everyone on the Studio's Facebook page. Here is what she had to say

There are 240 of us on this Facebook page. That means that 240 of us value The Studio whether it's for training, networking, audition notices, advice or blogs. Well, what if we all pledged Barbara $20 to save The Studio? That one time donation from each of us would create $4,800 on its own! And what if we all pledged just $20 once a month for the next 4 months... That's $19,200 already!!! Our support alone for just 4 months would be all it would take to raise most of the money to keep The Studio open!!!! ... I think it would be really great if we all rallied around both Barbara and The Studio, and showed her and the greater Wellington community that we value our Studio, and we are going to do our part to save it.

So, please do your part. Make a pledge to contribute to the Save the Studio fund, and if you would like to invest in the Studio on a greater scale, please have a chat to Barbara and listen to her amazing visions!

I love the Studio and I love Barbara. She has helped me become so much more than I thought I could be. I hope that she and the Studio will be around and flourishing for a long time to come, so she can work her magic on future generations of actors and other creative types, and help them discover their creative potential, the vastness of their courage and strength, so they have a shot at succeeding in living their creative dreams in the real world.

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