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© 2021 VICTORIAN ACTORS’ BENEVOLENT TRUST.
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.
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)
Sally-Anne Upton (President)
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)
Emma J Hawkins (Treasurer)
Gabrielle Dalton (Secretary)
Marg Dobson (Secretary)
Sioban Tuke (Vice President)
Don Bridges (Vice President)
Michael J Wilkie
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.”
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.