Bluestone Church Arts Space Creative Development Program


The Bluestone Church Arts Space is a dedicated arts and performance venue located at 8A Hyde Street Footscray. It is a highly versatile performance space for emerging, mid-career and professional artists.

An annual creative development program is offered in the facility which is open to performers, artists and thinkers seeking a large space for the development of new work, testing and exploring ideas, or further developing your arts practice.

The purpose of the Creative Development Program is to encourage and facilitate creativity, encourage experimentation and innovation, increase the profile of the Bluestone Church Arts Space as a dedicated arts space within Melbourne, and to facilitate access for our community to a wide range of arts and cultural activities.

Short-term creative development residencies are offered on a yearly basis for up to four weeks, with successful applications clearly outlining the development aspect of the residency plan.

There is no requirement for applicants to be a resident of the City of Maribyrnong however connection to the local community is viewed positively. Any future performances following a residency are required to acknowledge the creative development opportunity offered by Arts and Culture Maribyrnong.

Creative Development Program Recipients 2019

The following Creative Development Residencies have been awarded for 2019.

  • She Said Theatre - to research and develop a new theatre work titled ‘Our Parents’, created by Seanna van Helten and Penny Harpham.
  • Kissing Booth Productions - to develop a performance text titled 'Leopard Print Loincloth', written by Jake Stewart and directed by Dominic Weintraub.
    Outcome: After a month-long workshopping process – which included a diverse range of approximately forty men – a well-received, full-house performance of the work took place at the end of July 2019. The process began with the simple starting points of contemporary Australian masculinity, the work of Tom of Finland, and the dramaturgy of gay pornography, and by the end of the residency, a two-hour play had been produced.
  • The Voice in my Hands - to develop the third work in a trilogy titled ‘Let Bleeding Girls Lie’ into a rehearsal-ready script.
  • wit incorporated - to develop and present 'How I Met My Dead Husband' by Lansy Feng, and to research, develop and present a new sketch comedy by Jennifer Piper and Belinda Campbell.

Creative Development Program Recipients 2018

The following Creative Development Residencies were awarded for 2018.

  • Slown, Smallened & Son - to develop ‘Lady Example’, a performance project exploring women in our culture and our lives.
    Outcome: The Creative Development Residency allowed Slown, Smallened & Son to premiere a season of this work at The Substation, Newport as part of Next Wave Festival 2018, which was very well received by both audiences and critics. The three week development at Bluestone Church Arts Space was integral to the process of readying the work for performance. The space was large enough to resemble the scale of The Substation, allowing the full ensemble of performers to work all at once, for the first time since conceiving the work.

"This was our most ambitious and largest work to date, and so having ample space was a real asset to the breadth of this vision, and made its execution possible. We worked with our performers on choreographic scores, improvisations and learnt dance material, honing and refining it to the standard of the finished piece.” Slown, Smallened & Son

  • Lab Kelpie Inc. - to work on a new collaboration between Lab Kelpie’s artistic team Lyall Brooks and Adam Fawcett, ‘A World of Our Own’.
    Outcome: "Lab Kelpie Inc. came in at a very early stage of the project's life with just a seed of an idea, really, and came out the other side with - if not a whole oak tree - at least a healthy sapling of a show! It was so invaluable having a dedicated space to write, to build the story and structure, to explore the voice and physicality of the character on the floor, and even to play with preliminary staging and design ideas. We had some incredible and unexpected moments of discovery and creativity - as well as a healthy process of learning from (and unemotionally discarding) the failures. Our goal is to now continue the show’s development ready for a premiere season at Melbourne Fringe in 2019." Lyall Brooks and Adam Fawcett
  • She Said Theatre - to develop ‘Fallen’, a new work written by Seanna van Helten and directed by Penny Harpham.
    Outcome: ‘Fallen’ was presented at fortyfivedownstairs between 15-26 August 2018 following four weeks of creative development in the Bluestone Church Arts Space during May and July 2018. The season was incredibly well received with the production receiving multiple positive reviews. Actor Zoe Boesen has since been nominated for a Green Room Award for her incredible performance as Matron.

"Fallen remains an extended engagement with a fascinating piece of history, briskly designed and atmospheric” - The Age
“Hats off to everyone involved in Fallen. It's a fabulous work.”
- ArtsHub, 4 stars
"The fallen women find their feet in this uncompromising production. Penny Harpham’s direction is flawless with a superbly cast assemble of women.” - Theatre People, 4 ½ stars

  • wit incorporated - to produce a season of ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ by Jean Betts, a play that looks at the progress made in gender equality over the past two decades.
    Outcome: Centuries after Shakespeare penned Hamlet, more often than not productions of his works stick with tradition and stage Shakespeare with 400-year-old gender roles. wit incorporated set out to shake that up a bit with this production of Jean Betts’ fast paced, feminist love story, that takes the characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet through the looking glass and back again. ‘Ophelia Thinks Harder’ was staged in November 2018 in the Bluestone Church Arts Space to high acclaim, receiving a number of positive reviews.

"A fine cast of dedicated actors fill the length and breadth of this enchanting production. Clarke’s Ophelia is whimsical yet defiant; her strength lies in her questioning rather like Alice in Wonderland. The Queen (Jennifer Piper) is superbly outrageous and pompous; she too derives from the same source, bearing her signature hearts and off the cuff ridiculous statements. This is an entertaining theatrical experience that is rollickingly good fun absorbing and captivating production." - Stage Whispers

Creative Development Program Recipients 2017

The following Creative Development Residencies were awarded in 2017.

  • Anvil Productions - to creatively develop a new work exploring women’s experiences of being judged for their appearance, and societal expectations to confirm and please others, under the working title of ‘Resting Bitch Face’.
    Outcome: A 'work-in-progress' showing took place on 3 March 2017 following a three week intensive creative development residency. Following the residency, further development funding was applied for as the MCC residency proved there was a need for further dramaturgical development of the work.
  • ILBIJERRI  Theatre Company - to develop ‘Coranderrk’ in preparation for a national tour from April-June 2017.
    Outcome: Although ILBIJERRI had presented this work previously at Belvoir in Sydney and Northcote Town Hall in Melbourne, the Creative Development Residency was used to completely rewrite the script ahead of a National Tour which took place April-June 2017. The new version of the production brought on a new director (Eva Grace Mullaley, an exciting young Indigenous director and national convenor of the Blackfella Performing Arts Alliance) and a new (smaller) all Indigenous cast (Trevor Jamieson, Mathew Cooper, Ebony McGuire & Jesse Butler). After the development Ilbijerri Theatre Company took the production to the National Theatre in St Kilda for a final rehearsal period before the opening of the tour. A public showing of the development of Coranderrk was presented on 7 April 2017.

“What ILBIJERRI is able to take from this painful history is a story of resistance and of strength.” - The Age, 4 stars

  • Moral Panic - to develop a performance text for a new work titled ‘Love/Chamberlain’ by Bridget Mackey.
    Outcome: "The Bluestone Church Arts Space development allowed us to test out new writing on the floor, and provided space and time to expand on these discoveries. In November 2017 we closed a development season of six public performances at Canberra’s Ainslie & Gorman Arts Centre. Thanks to these opportunities, we now have a strong first draft of our script." Bridget Mackey

Apply for the Creative Development Program

Applications for the annual Creative Development Program for 2020 are closed.
Applications for the 2021 program will open in October 2020.

Creative residencies are also available at Footscray’s Artsbox.