PAWA Awards 2017
Musical theatre, News, Performing arts, Theatre

Best on the boards

As readers of Seesaw know, the WA performing arts sector punches well above its weight in terms of both the quality and quantity of work produced each year. On Monday 28 May, the industry’s top achievers will be honoured at the 2017 Performing Arts WA Awards ceremony and cocktail party. Nina Levy had a chat to Nick Maclaine, PAWA secretary and Awards committee member to find out more.

Nina Levy: Tell me all about the PAWA Awards…
Nick Maclaine: The PAWA Awards started life as the Equity Guild Awards, which were created in 2000 to recognise excellence and achievement in local professional theatre. The PAWA Awards have the same goal. It’s crucial for us here in WA to celebrate outstanding local work – and work by WA artists in particular, because we don’t always get the recognition we deserve nationally or interstate. We make incredible art and we produce first-class artists, and the PAWA Awards are one way of showing our pride.

The award categories are currently: newcomer, design, music, director, new work, independent production and mainstage production, as well as the traditional four acting categories – supporting actor (male and female) and leading actor (male and female). Next year, there will be a slightly different range of categories as we move to a new model.

NL: What will this new model look like?
NM: The new structure and judging process will bring the PAWA Awards in line with other states’ awards, being the Green Room Awards (Victoria), the Sydney Theatre Awards (NSW) and the Matilda Awards (Queensland). Our goal is to give our arts community the awards it expects and deserves.

We’re excited to be expanding the awards to encompass dance, and we would like to include more art forms in the future. The size of the judging panels will increase: we used to have three or four judges, but for 2018 there are 14 judges on our Theatre Panel and 10 on our Dance Panel. Each panel consists of a mix of professional artists, media, arts professionals and performers. The judges will still be guided by their discretion but we are asking them to consider some key principles – impact, craft/artistry and diversity – when assessing work. We will also be honouring the work of our design artists by instituting separate awards for lighting, stage and costume design, rather than bundling these into a single “Best Design” award.

NL: Why was the decision made to update the current PAWA Awards structure?
NM: To remain credible and relevant to our industry, and to reflect the diverse range of people who make art in WA, the PAWA Awards had to modernise. We want our nominations and awards to carry the same prestige as a Green Room Award, and part of getting there involves making sure the standards are rigorous, that the judges are drawn from a large and diverse pool, and that our processes (i.e. how work is assessed and decisions are reached) are transparent.

NL: Anything else we should know about the PAWA Awards?
NM: As a volunteer committee, putting on an event of this scale can be daunting. That’s why we’re thrilled to have partnered with GM Consulting, which helped us deliver last year’s awards. Georgia and Rachel at GM Consulting have been integral to realising our goal of taking the awards to another level!

The PAWA Awards cocktail party and ceremony is open to the public. To book head to

See the list of nominees for the 2017 awards at

Pictured: Last year’s PAWA Awards ceremony. Photo: Monica Defendi Photography.

Nina Levy is one of the judges on the new dance panel for the 2018 PAWA Awards.

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