Leeton’s Roxy Community Theater to be redeveloped as a performing arts institute

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Leeton’s Roxy Community Theater will soon be home to a Performing Arts Institute to train the next generation of actors and industry specialists.

As Henry V’s last performance at the theater draws to a close on Saturday night, the building’s future as the home of a performing arts institute has been revealed.

The Roxy Institute of Performing Arts (RIPA) will train young people from the Riverina who wish to pursue a career in the industry.

RIPA’s creative director, Jake Speer, said he hopes the institute will expose young talent from the bush to a wider audience.

“It’s a place where people from across the region can come and learn and connect with the industry and create the highest quality regional content possible,” said Speer.

“I see no reason why people have to travel all the way to Sydney or Melbourne to have access to high quality entertainment.

“I think there is incredible talent in the area and there are incredible stories to be told here too.”

RIPA Creative Director Jake Speer wants the youth of Riverina to have access to world-class arts training at the local level.(

Provided: Katherine Herrmann

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Speer, an actor and resident of Leeton, had to move to Sydney to continue acting.

“I’m an example of someone who had to leave so I’d like to see a world where we could take the city to the bush,” Speer said.

“Artists, performers and technicians can really make their own lives here by working in these amazing places, creating amazing work.”

Two people stand in front of a sign reading "VIP wrap party"
The announcement of the institute of the arts was made during the Henry V.(

ABC Riverina: Mahnaz Angury

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The program will involve mentors and industry experts to train students with skills that will enable them to tell their stories and develop pathways to employment in the arts.

Jock Lander, who played The Dolphin in Henry V, is another young actor who had to move to a big city to access training.

A brown haired man in a black t-shirt smiles at the camera
Actor Jock Lander had to travel to Sydney and Perth for acting training.(

ABC Riverina: Mahnaz Angury

)

“I’ve been to Sydney and Perth, but a lot of people don’t have that option and don’t have the funds,” Lander said.

“It would be so amazing to give people the opportunity to learn from professionals in the industry.”

RIPA director Katherine Herrmann said she was confident the institute would establish the Roxy as the center of artistic excellence and train the next big names in the industry.

“There is some amazing talent on the Australian scene as we speak that comes from the Australian bush,” Ms. Herrmann said.

“It’s not about reinventing the wheel, but how can we work with what people are already doing, which is fantastic, and just adjust it so that we can expand the reach.”

Black and white portrait of a woman smiling at the camera
RIPA Director Katherine Herrmann said there is a lot of talent in the Australian region.(

Provided: Katherine Herrmann

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There are plans to expand the program nationwide, with Ms. Herrmann encouraging other rural and regional communities to partner with RIPA.

“Really, the Roxy is a beacon and provides a proof of concept of what’s possible.”

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