The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award is the most prestigious award for Indigenous playwrights in Australia. The $25,000 award includes a $15,000 commission for a new play and a cash prize of $10,000. Applications are open nationally to writers of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. They are assessed by a panel including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists.
Now in its sixth year The Balnaves Award has become one of the most prestigious playwriting awards in Australia, be it for Indigenous or non-Indigenous Australians. The calibre of entries and winners has consistently proven the depth of talent in the Indigenous theatre industry.
In the past four years the award has recognised playwrights Katie Beckett, Leah Purcell, Jada Alberts and Nakkiah Lui, but also inspired many Indigenous artists to dream up new plays. The award is open to everyone from the most experienced playwrights, to people just starting out on their first plays and any writer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decent is encouraged to apply, regardless of whether or not they have written for theatre before.
Actor, singer and writer Ursula Yovich (A Christmas Carol, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie ) won the Award in 2016 with a commission to write a play that touches on traditions and rituals in Indigenous culture that are little known to the non-Indigenous community.
Since 2011 The Balnaves Foundation has supported the presentation of two Indigenous-led works per year as part of Belvoir’s annual season. To further their commitment to the telling of Indigenous stories through theatre, the Foundation has committed $25,000 per year to this annual award for an Indigenous playwright. The Balnaves Foundation is committed to working towards reconciliation and has supported numerous Indigenous arts projects including the creative development of I Am Eora and Black Diggers for Sydney Festival.