Belvoir and The Balnaves Foundation will announce a new national award for indigenous playwright’s at a launch at the Belvoir St Theatre on Wednesday 4 April.

In 2010 The Balnaves Foundation announced it would partner with Belvoir to support the presentation of two indigenous works as per year as part of Belvoir’s annual season. To further their commitment to the telling of indigenous stories through theatre the Foundation has committed $20 000 per year to an annual award to an indigenous playwright. ‘Reconciliation is difficult without an understanding of Indigenous issues, culture and history by the non-indigenous community,’ said Hamish Balnaves. ‘We hope that by supporting Indigenous playwrights these stories will be told.’

The award will comprise of a $7 500 cash prize and a $12 500 commission to write a new play with the support of Belvoir.

‘Belvoir is thrilled to have the support of the Balnaves Foundation for this Indigenous Playwrights Award to help us find and develop the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,’ said Belvoir’s Literary Manager Anthea Williams. ‘We hope the award will help us find exciting and new voices from across Australia.’

Williams will be joined on the judging panel for the award by the Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company Wesley Enoch and the Artistic Director of Ilbijerri Theatre Company Rachael Maza.


The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves AO to provide support to charitable enterprises across Australia.

Dispersing over $2 million annually, the Foundation supports eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.


Wesley is the Artistic Director for Queensland Theatre Company. Wesley has directed for Queensland Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Adelaide Festival of the Arts, State Theatre Company South Australia, Company B Belvoir, Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Malthouse Theatre, Windmill, Melbourne Workers Theatre, Alphaville and the ERTH Festival. As a playwright he has written The Story of the Miracles at Cookie’s Table (awarded the 2005 Patrick White Playwright’s Award), The Sunshine Club, Life of Grace and Piety, Black Medea and he collaborated with Deborah Mailman on The 7 Stages of Grieving.  Wesley has been Artistic Director of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts and Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre, Associate Artist with Queensland Theatre Company, Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company, Director of the Indigenous section of the opening ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games, a Sydney Opera House trustee, a NSW Government Arts Advisory Council member and on numerous other committees.

Rachael is the Artistic Director of Ilbijerri Theatre Company. She is well known as a television presenter on SBS’s ICAM and ABC’s Message Stick, and for her stunning performances in Radiance and The Sapphires. Most recently, in her role at Ilbijerri Theatre Company, she has directed Jacky Jacky in the Box (Federation Square 2009, Melbourne Museum 2010), A Black Sheep Walks into a Baa… and Black Sheep: Glorious Baastards (Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2009 & 2010) and Chopped Liver (National tours 2008 & 2009). She performs regularly with her sister Lisa in the duo ‘The Maza Sisters’, and together they wrote and performed in the highly successful theatre production Sisters of Gelam, which premiered in Melbourne in 2009.

Anthea is Literary Manager at Belvoir, prior to working at Belvoir Anthea was the Associate Director at London’s Bush Theatre. While at the Bush she directed Two Cigarettes, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover at Christmas,, Turf and The Great British Country Fete. Prior to working at the Bush she lived in Auckland and was the Co-Artistic Director of SmackBang Theatre Company and the Producer of Massive Company. Anthea trained as a director at the Victorian College of the Arts and the University of New South Wales.