The Victorian Actors’ Benevolent Trust is proud to be a member of the Alliance of Australasian Performing Arts Benevolent Funds.
© 2022 VICTORIAN ACTORS’ BENEVOLENT TRUST.
Sally-Anne Upton (President)
Sioban Tuke (Vice President)
Don Bridges (Vice President)
Emma J Hawkins (Treasurer)
Marg Dobson (Secretary)
Michael J Wilkie
Michael is a man of mystery, hiding in the shadows working his magic.
His Melbourne based PR company, Make A Difference (MAD) PR, specialises in publicising the arts – theatre, films, music, events.
Michael is passionate about the arts and promoting the vital work of the VABT.
For nearly 30-years, Michael was a professional actor performing leading roles with Australia’s major theatre companies as well as several TV dramas.
Most recently Michael was a senior partner at Nelson Alexander, one of Melbourne’s largest and most successful residential real estate agencies. He now works in the conservation sector for Trust for Nature protecting Victoria’s biodiversity.
Michael lives in Northcote with his wife Jude. Michael’s hobbies include oil painting, studying French, travelling, playing golf and getting out into our beautiful country whenever possible.
Joanne works as an actor and producer, and has devised and performed with many companies and events within Australia and the U.K.
She has a love of multi-form work, often collaborating with artists in film, dance, & live art performance. In 2015, she launched arts company, Anvil Productions with Rebecca Lister.
Joanne feels honoured to be a part of the hard-working VABT team.
Stephen is currently the Associate Producer / Senior Company Manager at Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Stephen began his career in Stage Management before stepping into Company Management when offered the opportunity to establish the role at MTC.
Stephen has long admired the work of the VABT and is proud to join the committee in supporting Victoria’s vibrant community of artists and arts workers.
At this time, we are only able to support people who are experiencing an emergency health crisis.
We are not able to support people who have lost jobs and income as a result of this worldwide pandemic.
But help is available for all of us and we strongly recommend you keep informed of the Federal Government’s announcements about providing support for casual workers and make your voice heard in forums in support of our industry.
Our Community and our leaders are working on our behalf in advocacy including Live Performance Australia, Theatre Network Australia, National Association for the Visual Arts and others, to secure emergency support assistance from federal and state governments. We highly encourage workers to report lost jobs and income at I Lost My Gig and the MEAA survey so they can help build a strong case to government about the economic, financial and social impact on the arts because of this pandemic.
Our mental health is particularly important as we navigate the extraordinary events of the Coronavirus and we encourage all of you to reach out to others for support. The Arts Wellbeing Collective is an incredible resource that all of us can utilise to ensure we stay connected, mentally healthy and resilient.
We also highly recommend looking out for others in need – particularly those who live alone and do not have families to call on. Making contact through a caring phone call, FaceTime/Skype or an email, can make a huge impact on our collective mental health.
We are all in this together.
The VABT Committee wishes all of you, your families and friends, strength, resilience and good health in the days, weeks and months ahead.If you are financially stable and would like to help your colleagues, you can now donate directly for COVID-19 Assist on our website at www.vabt.com.au/donate.
Emma is well known for her performances across Australia and internationally in many events, festivals and productions, from Shakespeare to burlesque and all things in between. A keen advocate of fair representation of disability in the arts, she speaks at many events, forums and recently became Secretary for the Persons with a Disability Committee under MEAA.
Emma also has an administration and bookkeeping background, currently runs her own boutique bookkeeping service for creatives/artists called Small Fortunes. She is currently the Finance Manager for the Women’s Circus and enjoys the challenge of combining both her career paths of being an accountant and a performer.
This is how she found her way to being the Treasurer of the Victorian Actors Benevolent Trust, a charity that she is proud to support.
The Victorian Actors’ Benevolent Trust (VABT) Committee and Ambassadors John Wood and Julia Zemiro want to thank you again for being one of our valued and important donors in the past year. Your generosity has helped many of our cast and crew in the entertainment community who have found themselves in unexpected and dire circumstances.
This year the VABT Committee has received requests from people undergoing cancer treatment, suffering addictions, coping with mental health issues, finding themselves with long-term chronic illness, and we have provided assistance with funeral expenses for those who have no family. Through your financial aid we are able to provide emergency help and assist our community in need. With your help the VABT helps rebuild self-esteem and dignity. Through practical help we show we care.
The Donate page of the VABT website now has five options to honour entertainers and crew who have passed away, and through their family’s permission, it is a touching way of honouring their memory. Birthday Fundraising is a new initiative, with actor Libby Tanner encouraging her fans to donate funds to the VABT for her birthday during December to February. The VABT is grateful to Libby for this idea, and it helps to spread information about our charity to new people, the people who are proud to enjoy the work of our artists.
Victoria’s entertainment community is small and close-knit, like an extended family. We hope your family can once again help ours.
Thank you again for your kindness and vital support. We wish you and your family a safe and happy festive season.
Very best wishes,
Sally-Anne Upton, President VABT
Sue Roff (President)
Elspeth Ballantyne (Vice President)
Kevin Harrington (Vice President)
Lois Collinder (Secretary)
Helen Hartnell (Treasurer)
Lois Collinder (Treasurer/Secretary)
Jasper Bagg (Vice President)
Melanie Beddie (Vice President)
Judy Stolfo (Secretary)
Jasper Bagg (President)
Sue Roff (Vice President)
Lois Collinder (Treasurer)
James Wardlaw (Vice President)
Maria Popov (Treasurer)
Sally-Anne Upton (Vice President)
Lady Viola Tait (Patroness)
Kenrick Hudson (President)
Peter Randall (Vice President)
Philip Phillips (Vice President)
Victor Arnold (Secretary)
Max Bruch (President)
Lloyd Cunnington (Vice President)
Louise Homfrey (Vice President)
Kenrick Hudson (Chairman)
William. P Carr (Treasurer)
Peter Randall (Vice Chairman)
P.D. Phillips (Vice Chairman)
Joan Arnold (Treasurer)
Joan Arnold (Secretary/Treasurer)
Lloyd Cunnington (President)
Paul Flaherty (Vice President)
Monica Maughan (President)
Beverley Dunn (Vice President)
Joan Arnold (Secretary)
Cliff Ellen (Treasurer)
Luke Elliott (Vice President)
Anne Harrington (Treasurer)
Maria Kolaitis (Secretary)
Mary Bombaci (Secretary)
Barry Minster (Treasurer)
Mark Bowdern (Treasurer)
Melissa Jennings (Secretary)
Chris Bunworth (Vice President)
Gabrielle Dalton (Secretary)
An Actor’s Equity member since 1973, Don’s extensive credits include, Theatre: as either actor or director, includes HIT Productions, La Mama, Essential Theatre, Unicorn (London), Columbia University (New York), Geary Theatre (San Francisco) and over twenty-five productions for Melbourne Theatre Company. Films: include Judy and Punch, Two Heads Creek, Paper Champions, Tender Hook, Romper Stomper, Evil Angels, Quigley Down Under, Malcolm, Rikki & Pete, Road to Nhill, The Hard Word, The Oyster Farmer, Charlotte’s Web, Gettin’ Square and Cohen the Barbarian in TrollBridge. Television: includes regular roles in Jack Irish, True Stories, Blue Heelers, Man from Snowy River, Neighbours, Stingers, Something in the Air, The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries and Upper Middle Bogan. Don is also a musician, playing guitar, mandolin, ukulele and bodhran (Irish drum). He is grateful for the opportunity to serve on the VABT committee.
Mark is a solicitor in private practice who claims to have known everyone in Melbourne’s intrepid and courageous theatre community before they were famous. He has advised just about every professional theatre company and many venues in Victoria over nearly thirty years of legal practice. Familiar with wills, trusts and administrations for creative people, he has admired the work of VABT for many years and its significant contribution to the vibrant and supportive theatre scene in Melbourne.
Mark earned half a living as an actor in his twenties and early thirties on the fringe, comedy and corporate circuits. He has served on the boards of many arts organisations, including Chandrabhanu’s Bharatam Dance Company Inc, Arts Access Inc., Currency House Inc, Viscopy Limited and, currently, Polyglot Theatre. In addition to specific qualifications in intellectual property law, he holds a D.Phil. from Oxford University on the dramaturgy of Thomas Middleton and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Art at RMIT (probably the only lawyer in the country to hold such a post). He is a Life Member of the Green Room Awards Association and was President for six years 2005-10. Appointed to VABT in late 2016, he is looking forward to rolling up his sleeves to support VABT’s vital work where other formal and informal systems don’t reach. When not in the theatre or the office he keeps bees and cattle in north-eastern Victoria.
Clare is an award winning actor, writer and filmmaker and has appeared in numerous films, commercials, theatre productions and cabaret.
Clare is passionate about giving back to the industry she loves so dearly. Her journey with the VABT began in 2014 as a Bucket Rattler and she continued to pester the VABT until they found a place for her on the committee at the end of 2015. Clare’s goal is to raise awareness of the VABT within, and outside of, the arts community and for the VABT to become Victoria’s First Choice Charity.
Sioban has been a Melbourne based actor, director and casting director for twenty-five years. Sioban is developing a number of concepts for television dramas as a writer director.
Sioban is a graduate of Victoria College of the Arts, ECU, WA Screen Academy and Open Channel’s 2014 ‘Scriptshop’ course for screen writers.
Matthew has worked extensively in policy development in the creative and cultural sectors in Australia. He has lead the design and implementation of creative and cultural strategy, and provided high-level strategic advice on key challenges and opportunities facing the creative sector. He has built key sector and government stakeholder relationships and gained an extensive knowledge of the economic development across international cultural and creative practice. Former Arts Adviser to Mark Dreyfus QC MP Shadow Minister for the Arts, Head of Theatre Arts GRADA (GOTAFE Regional Academy of Dramatic Arts) and Associate Course Director, Actors Centre Australia. He has worked with Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Belvoir Street Theatre and Malthouse Theatre.
Matthew’s studies include a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Art (Direction), Victorian College of the Arts and Executive Master of Arts, University of Melbourne. He currently sits on the board for the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo and considers it a privilege to be a committee member for VABT.
Chris Connelly has been acting for three decades with extensive work in theatre, film, and television. His many shows with the Melbourne Theatre Company include; Aftershocks, Pax Americana, The Caretaker, Happy Ending. Among other productions; David Williamson’s The Club and Face to Face, Hotel Sorrento, Kitten, West Side Story, Barassi and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Also solo shows; The Dream of a Ridiculous Man and The Meeting. TV credits include Deadline Gallipoli, Bed of Roses, Stingers, Blue Heelers, Neighbours and The Adventures of Lano and Woodley. Films: John Doe, Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby, Queen of the Damned and Face to Face, Chris was the co founder of the Maya Shakti Drama school in Sri Lanka.
“In my experience, actors and performers are some of the most generous, resilient and positive group of people you could find. Perhaps this is because the work of the performer is to do with the humanity of a story, what lies at the heart of the character in the story or performance. Actors and people in the entertainment industry in general, are constantly supporting causes, helping people, and on any issue will almost invariably take the compassionate position. I think our industry is full of good people who go beyond themselves not only for their art, but also for the greater good of the community. Because of the precarious nature of this business, there are many times when people in this industry need help, this usually coincides with a time of being forgotten in the community, I believe the VABT exists to make sure we’re not forgotten.”
I have worked in performing arts including theatre in education, musical comedy, cabaret and theatre. In the mid 1980’s with Women’s Community Theatre and the early days of Melbourne Fringe in the collaboratively produced Women’s Season, I wrote and presented a variety of group and solo performance projects.
These shows were usually comedy and musical, Cooking with Marg, Marg and the Beast and The Whole Shebang. Expanding later into Environmental Education with Vox Bandicoot, and street musical theatre with The Teabags Marching Band, and cabaret with The Romanoffs. In 2011 I was hostess for Finucane & Smith in The Burlesque Hour and The Carnival of Mysteries at fortyfivedownstairs Melbourne. In March 2014 at Footscray Community Arts I played the lead role in the reading of Peta Murray’s play, Things That Fall Over, a production in development over two years.
Since living in Ballarat I have worked with Lynden Nicholls on Voices as a performer and directed the life models in the Art Gallery of Ballarat for the 24 Hour Experience Ballarat. In Backspace Gallery I wrote and performed a recording of an artist response to Dora Meeson’s painting Leaving for the Front. In 2016 I narrated Peter and the Wolf and the Carnival of the Animals at Her Majesty’s Theatre for the Winderlude Festival with the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra and four dance schools.
Currently I am working on The Women of the Goldfields, a new play, using historical source material to explore the true stories of women during the Eureka Stockade. I have presented two development performances in Ballarat, at the Main Bar in November in 2014 and the Mechanics Institute in 2016.
Everybody wants to be able to give to others in need. Sometimes they just need a vehicle and the VABT is a just the ticket. Through the generous theatre audiences chucking in notes and coins at a bucket rattle, others responding to requests for donations via a letter in the mail, and the people organising to ask for the money, the VABT can give to others in need. The power of giving is enormous and the community of the theatre world is powerful.
My creative bow is well strung! I started singing on the ship out from England at the age of seven. I left school to become a RN Division 2 nurse and I’m still registered. In 1981, I started my professional career acting, and singing and In 2007, I married all these skills and became a Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant.
With 45 years in the performing arts it’s marvellous to give a hand back to the industry. I’m currently performing in “Singin’ in the Rain” till end of January 2016 and have been working in all facets of our vital industry since 1975. I also serve on the National Performers’ Committee for Actors Equity Australia.
Dina trained at NIDA and worked as a professional actor in the 70’s & 80’s.
Starting her Casting Career at Crawford Productions, she then, in the late 80’s began a seven year period as Casting Director ABC Melbourne, casting many projects, including ‘The Magistrate’ and ‘Phoenix’.
Her freelance Feature films include: ‘Road To Nhill’, ‘Head On’, ‘Mallboy’ (AFI Young Actor) ‘Japanese Story’ (AFI Best Actress, Best Film), ‘The Jammed’ (IF Best Film), ‘Lake Mungo’, ‘Black & White & Sex’ (ATOM ‘Best Experimental’) and ‘The Legend Maker’.
Dina respects actors and industry members and believes that their creative offerings should not be forgotten when times get tough.