In November 2009, a group of local Parramatta business people headed up by Riad Tayeh got together to form a committee to raise much needed funding for WAPD…which is now called Beyond the Square. On March 26, 2010 the inaugural fundraising lunch was held and was a major success raising over $35,000.00 in the first year, $41,000.00 in the second year and $45,000.00 in the third year.
The luncheon is held actually on the main stage at Riverside Theatres Parramatta and is now going into its fourth year.
Part of the funding raised was put towards two very unique positions at Riverside:
- The appointment of Alison Richardson as a part time Creative Director for Beyond the Square and the overseeing of general accessibility within Riverside.
- The appointment of Gerard O’Dwyer as the first person with a disability to be employed at Riverside undergoing duties in front of house, box office, administration, cleaning, public speaking, publicity and workshops.
Riverside Theatre has been running workshops for people with disabilities for over 14 years – six sessions per week, forty weeks a year. The workshops focus on improving skills in movement, dance, drama and singing. One of the most professionally run programs of its kind. Beyond the Square helps hundreds of participants with disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and vision impairment. All the workshops are at a maximum capacity and there is still a huge demand for places. With extra funding Beyond the Square can offer additional places and maintain, or hopefully even improve, the teacher: participant ratio. Riverside Theatre is the only mainstream theatre company in Australia to have a position dedicated solely to the development of opportunities for people with a disability in the arts.
de Vries Tayeh are extremely proud to play a major part in the development of this event. If you are interested in attending the Get on Stage Luncheon or joining forces with other high profile businesses in the region sponsoring the event or just making a kind donation please contact our office about same on 9633 3333.