Playmarket, New Zealand's only Playwrights' Agency and Advisory service, has just released the New Zealand play licensing figures for 2011 and the news is good.
More people are reading, studying, producing, and paying to see NZ works on stage than ever before in Playmarket's 39-year history.
In the chilly and uncertain economic climate of 2011 the New Zealand Play broke a number of records and made 2011 Playmarket's most successful year since opening its doors to playwrights in 1973.
- Playmarket licensed more NZ plays than ever before.
- Royalties - money playwrights receive for their work based on a percentage of total box office takings – collected by Playmarket reached the highest dollar-figure ever.
- A record number of licences were issued to schools and tertiary providers.
- More NZ play scripts were sold, downloaded and circulated than any other year on record.
- Two of the competitions for which Playmarket accept submissions for (The Adam NZ Play Award and Playwrights b4 25) each reached record numbers of entries.
The figures are particularly good given the tightening-of-belts across the country and the media reports of struggling theatre companies.
"We quite naturally look to the major theatre companies for trends and as measures of success, but for large numbers of kiwis their access to and experience of NZ theatre is firstly in their local communities and schools." says Playmarket director Murray Lynch "That is where for many the curiosity, the passion, and the lifelong love affair with NZ theatre begins."
The licensing of NZ Plays to schools and tertiary providers has more than doubled in the past 5 years and educators looking for NZ works to study and perform now make up a large proportion of enquiries Playmarket receives daily.
The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) recommended texts for drama now feature NZ plays proudly, and unashamedly, 22 of the 58 level three texts are by NZ writers and range from classics like Bruce Mason's The End of the Golden Weather and The Pohutukawa Tree to key works by Maori and Pasifika playwrights such as Briar Grace-Smith, Hone Kouka and Oscar Kightley.
2011 was a record year for the collection of royalties for playwrights. Royalties are based on a percentage of total box office takings and the amount collected indicates that these NZ works are gaining bigger paying audiences than they ever have before.
Centrepoint Theatre, Taki Rua Productions, Capital E National Theatre for Children and Young and Hungry have continued to develop and produce exclusively New Zealand works. Major theatre companies such as Auckland Theatre Company, The Court Theatre and Circa Theatre, are providing more opportunities for more NZ writers to be seen and heard on our stages. ATC and The Court also have dedicated literary managers and development programmes and each offer their support in a range of ways, including workshops and readings.
Playmarket will next year celebrate its 40th birthday and the organisation will be able to look back at its support for NZ playwright and their plays with great pride.