Queensland arts companies, shake & stir theatre co (toured by Artslink QLD) and the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre have taken two of the three awards at the prestigious Australian Performing Arts Centres Association gala dinner at the Opera House on 20 August 2015.

shake & stir theatre co with Artslink QLD were awarded the Drover Award for 'Tour of the Year' for their production 1984 (based on George Orwell's novel), and the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre received the Drover Award for 'Performing Arts Centre of the Year'.

First introduced in 2003, the Drover Awards recognise and celebrate the contribution made by Australia’s best performing arts touring talent.

Tour of the Year Drover Award
The other finalists for Tour of the Year include: Pete the Sheep (Monkey Baa Theatre Company & Arts on Tour) and The Magic Hour (Deckchair Theatre Company & Performing Lines WA).

The ‘Tour of the Year’ Award recognises both the production company, with an outstanding commitment to touring, and the tour coordinator, delivering exceptional touring services. It rewards the commitment to form strong partnerships and to work collaboratively to develop audiences and enrich the cultural lives of all Australians. ‘Tour of the Year’ is awarded for overall excellence in touring, recognising the quality of the production, the marketing campaign and the people making it happen. It also acknowledges the skill and expertise required for touring – whether it be through major cities or in the often rough and challenging terrain of regional and remote Australia.

The judging panel noted that the tour for 1984 was bold, imaginative, with first class production values and that shake & stir were a passionate company with highly dedicated staff.

Performing Arts Centre of the Year
The other finalists for Performing Arts Centre of the Year include: Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, Colac Otway Performing Arts & Cultural Centre, Merrigong Theatre Company, NORPA and Whitehorse Performing Arts Centre.

The ‘Performing Arts Centre of the Year’ acknowledges the achievements of an outstanding performing arts centre who works with production companies to provide consistently outstanding production, marketing and management services and has achieved exceptional success in audience development and community engagement.

The ‘Performing Arts Centre of the Year’ was determined through a process of nominations from producers having toured to a minimum of five APACA venues. Nominations were submitted to an expert panel of industry peers to determine the winner.

It was noted that the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre had an innovative community engagement program, strong commitment to indigenous programming, and very helpful staff guided by the excellent leadership of Mark Fawcett.

APACA Executive Director Bronwyn Edinger says that the Drover Awards are an important accolade for the intense work that goes into presenting and touring shows and running arts centres.

"The Drover Awards acknowledge presenters and producers who not only offer exceptional operational standards but recognise their role in building commmunities, developing and entertaining audiences and providing support for performance makers," she said.

“There is an incredible amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes when bringing a show into a centre, work that the majority of people never see or are aware of, but the Drover Awards are one way that we can acknowledge arts professionals and the dedication they demonstrate,” said Bronwyn Edinger, Executive Director, APACA.

The final award, Touring Legend 2015, was awarded to Monkey Baa Theatre Company. The Touring Legend award recognises an outstanding contribution to performing arts touring in Australia and is awarded at the discretion of the APACA Board of Management.