A new not-for-profit association has been established to support stage managers around the country, to assist in their professional development and to advocate for their wellbeing. Stage Managers Association Australia Ltd (SMAAU) was launched on 10 October, a date recognised as International Stage Management Day, and is initially focused on recruiting members, as well as promoting diversity and accessibility for all people interested or engaged in the practice of stage management.

Much has been written about the struggles of performing artists and arts companies throughout the pandemic, but of course the shutdown of productions has greatly affected an entire ecosystem of backstage crew, of which stage managers are an indispensable part.

Stage Manager Erin Coubrough preparing for rehearsal at His Majesty’s Theatre Perth. Photo by Claire Mayers.

It was the lockdowns that spurred the creation of the association, as a group of 13 stage managers working in a range of genres across the country came together to discuss whether there was scope for a professional organisation of this kind. After a year of consultation with industry, SMAAU was born.

“During the 2020 shutdown, stage management organisations overseas offered support and engaging content to their newly unemployed members. I sat wondering what we were doing here to support our community,” said Kate Middleton-Olliver, who headed up that original working group and is now Chair of the association.

“This launch isn’t our opening night,” she continues. “It’s more like day one of a workshop. We have a great vision for what this organisation can be in the future, but we’ve got to start small. We’re ready to test some concepts, find new ideas and bring the vision to life.”

That vision is to build an open and inclusive network of stage management practitioners around the country, with goals of encouraging diversity and improving accessibility and entry into the industry built in from the outset. Also among their initial goals are the creation of professional development programs, wellbeing and support initiatives, and for knowledge-sharing in order to develop and advocate for best practice across all sectors and genres.

The organisation is a not-for-profit and is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Directors are Kate Middleton-Olliver (Chair – NSW), Adam J Lowe (Secretary & Public Officer – VIC), Ingrid Rahlén (Treasurer – TAS), Erin Coubrough (WA), Will Lewis (VIC), Carly O’Neill (QLD), Melanie Selwood (SA) and Lillian Hannah U (NSW, currently overseas).


To find out more, visit the Stage Managers Association Australia Ltd website.

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