Co-Curious is a unique not for profit organisation in the Australian film and theatre industry. They recognise that much of the work produced by the entertainment industry doesn’t always reflect the lived experience of contemporary Australians… and they are dedicated to providing a platform for the voices we rarely hear.
“We believe Australian audiences are hungry for the kinds of stories that reflect contemporary Australia, that reflect themselves on screen and stage, that include all Australians as a critical part of the national story.
Co-Curious exists to discover and nurture those kinds of stories, and help them reach our main stages, festivals, TV screens and cinemas.”
We spoke with Annabel Davis, Acting CEO, about the amazing achievements of the organisation and how partnering with True Accounting has made her life much easier.
Screen Australia enterprise funding
Co-Curious is the sister company of CuriousWorks and was founded in 2018 through the support of Screen Australia’s enterprise funding, along with support from Create NSW. Annabel explains:
“My colleague, Shakthi, founded CuriousWorks in 2005. CuriousWorks is a vibrant ensemble of next gen artists, storytellers, media makers and mentors from Western Sydney, working with their own communities to build grassroots innovation, foster social connection and create inspiring arts experiences that connect us, hold up our truths and resonate with global significance and reach. They create artwork across many forms and a lot of audio-visual work, but they weren’t necessarily accessing stakeholders like broadcasters or distributors.
Shakthi was keen to broaden the reach… start working with other stakeholders so that we could facilitate projects with higher budgets, higher profiles and a wider reach.
So, we set up the new company – Co-Curious – to sit alongside CuriousWorks. The ‘Co’ speaks to our intent to always co-produce with other companies that have the infrastructure to produce, where our focus is on talent identification and development work.”
The enterprise funding from Screen Australia enabled the company’s creation and also financed the production of their first piece of screen work.
Award winning productions
The first Co-Curious theatre production was the award-winning play ‘Counting and Cracking’ (*photo credit below). In partnership with Belvoir St Theatre, its season ran during the Sydney Festival in January and February 2019. Annabel tells us:
“‘Counting and Cracking’ was initially developed by Shakthi when he was with CuriousWorks. It was an amazing Sri Lankan Australian story and won a whole raft of different awards… seven Helpmann Awards – including Best Play and Best New Australian Work and won best mainstage production at the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards. It won both the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Drama at the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.”
Following on from the success of ‘Counting and Cracking’, Co-Curious is now in the middle of a second production – this time it is a film called ‘Here Out West’ – co-produced with Emerald Productions. With funding from Screen Australia, Create NSW and finance support from the ABC and Spectrum Films, it is a highly collaborative piece of work that is giving a platform to people who don’t normally have access to key industry stakeholders. Annabel continues:
“It’s important for us to find new talent and nurture that talent. We work with people to help establish career pathways and to develop content. We do the two things simultaneously.
It’s quite difficult to pull those things apart… while you’re developing content, you’re meeting people, you’re networking and you’re making those inroads into the industry.
For the film, we did a call out for Western Sydney writers. We got about 70 applications and from there we selected eight writers to work with.
A critical component of our model is that we bring really experienced people to scaffold this new emerging talent. We’ve got people who have amazing stories, but maybe not lots of industry experience, maybe not a lot of craft experience, so we bring in very carefully selected like-minded experienced people to support the new people in their development. They never impose anything… it’s a true support role, coupled with mentoring.
While 2020 has been a tough year… we’ve had an incredible 12 months. We’ve just reached the mid-point of the ‘Here Out West’ shoot. We finish filming December 10, then we’ll focus on marketing and publicity ahead of its theatrical release in mid-2021, followed by a broadcast on the ABC towards the end of next year. ”
Partnering with True Accounting
Annabel was referred to True Accounting after having some challenging experiences as she took on the role of Acting CEO. NFP accounting can be challenging and even more so when you are left to work things out on your own. Annabel believes that Carol Tran and the True Accounting team have made the world of difference to her day to day workload.
“Carol really changed things around for me. We had started with an individual accountant, who didn’t work out. Then we tried another person… but when we moved to True Accounting everything changed and it’s been seamless ever since!
As the sole employee, I really need that support… I am running the company and producing the film but accountancy is not my strength. With Carol, I feel like I’m always learning something new and I know I can call her any time with a question.
We use an True Accounting budgeting template that works really well and Carol provides me with all the material I need for our Board. They also do all the acquittals for our funding, which is excellent. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders.
Working with True Accounting is the perfect solution for Co-Curious… if I didn’t work with Carol, I’d have to have a part-time person on salary and I would have to manage them, but it’s actually the other way around with True Accounting – they manage me, which is a much more efficient relationship.
Their holistic view of Co-Curious is really important and the guidance they provide is invaluable.”
*’Counting and Cracking’ image courtesy of Belvoir and taken by Brett Boardman.