Adelaide-based Patch Theatre, based in The Mill, is Australia’s flagship theatre company making professional theatre for an audience of 4–10 year olds. Patch has created and performed 113 new works to more than 2 million children and their families since their inception in 1972. For many South Australians, seeing a Patch production is a family tradition, with parents bringing their children and now their grandchildren to see their work.
With a broad range of inspiration from storybooks to science and beyond, light is an integral part of their work. It plays a strong role in the way they tell their stories and provides audiences with an opportunity to join in on a journey of curiosity and delight.
After premiering new works in Adelaide, they tour extensively in regional South Australia and nationally each year. They have performed in over 90 towns and cities around Australia, whilst internationally have completed over 30 tours in countries including the USA, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Patch connected to GigCity at the end of 2018, after moving into an office at The Mill on Angas Street, one of the pilot locations for Creative Industries. Penny Camens, Patch Theatre General Manager says, “The speed of GigCity was a big selling point, especially with the subsidised pricing for this pilot. It allowed us to consolidate accounts for the office VOIP phones, mail server and internet connection, reducing the monthly costs to less than half.”
When connecting to GigCity, Patch was in the midst of overhauling all IT systems, to modernise systems, streamline both mail exchange and server via utilising cloud-based storage. Fast, reliable and affordable internet was the key to enabling this update to succeed.
“The update project was very successful and continues to grow, keeping our touring party connected to the company from anywhere in the world,” says Penny.
This ensured that Patch was easily able to switch to remote working during lockdown periods, vital for the continuation of work throughout the pandemic and increasing flexible working arrangements for the better.
As well as the aspects of fast internet and unlimited bandwidth, Penny has appreciated the service from SABRENet who delivers GigCity on behalf of the government together with EscapeNet. “It has been great to work with a local provider, in a globalised environment where suppliers are not always easy to reach, the support from EscapeNet staff has been fast and friendly.”
As well as the core team of 9 staff, Patch works with a range of up to 50 creatives, artists and technical crew when making and presenting performances. Having capacity for the extended team to work in the office during crucial times on a project has been very valuable, supported by unlimited fast internet. Some artists have even been coming in to use the office specifically for the transfer of large video files.
Patch’s work has a strong digital element to the live performance – music and sound files, animation, video documentation and more, needs to be uploaded to the cloud to be shared with theatre venues where they tour. “Hosting online Q&As with teachers and presenting partners has been reliable and worry free with the GigCity connection”, says Penny.
Since the pandemic started and borders closed, there has been limited opportunity to travel and present Patch’s work beyond South Australia. To ensure they stay connected with the industry globally, Patch has been attending online conferences and marketplaces to showcase their productions with colleagues from around the world. Sharing high resolution videos and presentations about their style of work has allowed Patch to continue fostering relationships and planning presentations as far away as Canada, USA, Korea, China, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.
This year is Patch’s 50th year of operations, and there is a big program currently underway, including creating and premiering a new in-theatre work, Home, delving into what it means to belong and exploring difference whilst celebrating diversity in a unique collaboration with Restless Dance Theatre. Home will open to schools and families in August at Adelaide Festival Centre, before touring regional SA.
They have just presented at the National Maritime Museum, inviting audiences to paint a voyage in light at a 5-week season of Sea of Light, at Sydney Festival in January then followed by Bathurst in February. Also in February, their Ruby Award winning interactive light and sound wonderland The Lighthouse appeared at Perth Festival. March saw the premiere of Mirror Mirror, an outdoor interactive kaleidoscope installation created bespoke for WOMADelaide’s KidZone. September school holidays will see a season of ZOOOM at Sydney Opera House and touring to Hobart and Western Australia. In between they’ll be rolling out Spark, their on demand in-schools program, and hosting a new opportunity for an Artist in Residence in partnership with Adelaide Fringe.
While their work is in live performance, they couldn’t do it without the administrative backend that relies on fast and reliable internet. Penny says, “Using GigCity has enabled us to thoroughly modernise Patch’s operations, increasing accessibility, reliability and streamlining of the behind-the-scenes operations, to allow our on-stage productions to shine.”
See Patch’s inspiring work in this video: https://vimeo.com/545301238
GigCity is a Government of South Australia initiative delivering affordable, high-speed internet to innovation precincts across the state. Participating businesses experience gigabit speed broadband, enabling greater collaboration between colleagues and easy sharing with clients around the world.
For more information, visit www.gigcity.com.au.