Since 1984, the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards have recognised and celebrated many of Australia’s greatest artists, organisations and facilitators. Now in its 34th year, the Awards continue in that tradition with the announcement of their 2016 recipients. Gavin Webber, Australian Theatre for Young People, and Kathy Burns, have taken home an Individual Award (worth $60,000), a Group Award (worth $90,000), and a Facilitator’s Prize (worth $25,000), respectively.

“The Sidney Myer Fund is delighted to recognise the invaluable contribution that each of these wonderful winners makes to the arts in Australia and to the wider community.  It is the dynamic and tireless work of these, and indeed so many other artists perusing their visions that greatly enrich our lives and helps build a more cohesive Australian society. I congratulate each of them”, said Carrillo Gantner, Chairman of the Sidney Myer Fund.

This year, those on the judging committee, chaired by Gantner, included arts luminaries Iain Grandage, Louise Herron, Lindy Hume, Andrew Ross and Noel Staunton. The committee aims to not only recognise nominees’ past achievements, but to consider their future contribution to Australian society through their work in the arts.

Winner of this year’s Individual Award, Gavin Webber is co-Artistic Director of The Farm, a performance company that showcases the strengths and vulnerabilities of the human condition. Webber has worked in Australia and Europe, directing theatre, dance, circus, film and installation. The Farm has toured internationally and nationally to critical acclaim.

Australian Theatre for Young People has snagged the Group Award in its mission to help young people find their creative voices. A national youth theatre company, ATYP connects young people with the professional theatre industry locally, regionally and nationally. The organisation believes that an involvement in theatre builds the confidence, creativity, and sense of community that an engaged citizen requires.

“It’s a huge honour for ATYP to win the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award. Where once youth theatre was appreciated as being a useful tool in personal growth, it is now recognised for delivering work of artistic excellence,” said ATYP Artistic Director and CEO, Fraser Corfield. “This Award marks a dynamic shift in youth theatre in Australia and heralds an exciting new era for ATYP.”

Kathy Burns has been awarded the Facilitator’s Prize for her committed work in regional and remote communities. The Artistic Director of Barkly Regional Arts since 2011, she has worked in remote Indigenous communities to implement arts programs – encompassing music, film, visual arts, dance and theatre – for all ages. Burns has also been the Festival Manager of the Desert Harmony Festival since 2011, a five-day celebration of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural art forms in the Northern Territory.