Have you ever been to a dinner party and sat next to someone and asked them, “What do you do?” and go on to learn something new? Mary Souness is that dinner party guest! Mary runs her own small business and has been a valued client of McPhail & Partners for many years. She runs an interesting business which is why we sat down with her this month so that you too could learn something new! Thanks, Mary!

  1. When people ask you, ‘What do you do for work?’ what do you say?

I run my own business “Just Shows To Go” that tours small-scale performing art shows into regional Victoria. Over the past 20 years, the type of shows have varied from all sorts of different styles of music from around the world e.g. Irish, African, American, Russian, Greek, Latin American, Indian, Hawaiian, Scottish, Tex-Mex, etc. As well as comedy, drama, circus, puppetry, film, dance, vaudeville, mime etc.

  1. Your business is heavily reliant on gaining government grants each year. This appears to be a minefield regarding how to successfully complete the applications each year. What tips would you offer someone who was looking into gaining a government grant?

Never underestimate the time involved. Do your research. Allocate ample time to the preparation and writing of the submission. Often you need information from other people and they do not necessarily work to your ideal timeline. Be accurate, don’t guess, especially when it comes to the budget items. Be succinct but include everything you are asked to submit. Be thorough.

  1. What have been the most successful shows in The Café Culture Series over the past two years; what are people enjoying?

‘Sonidos Flamencos’ a contemporary & traditional flamenco dance troupe.

“Pacific Belles” a retro style singing trio & their little big band inspired by the music, fashion and glamour of the 1940’s in the style of the Andrew Sisters.

“I Viaggiatori” Italian group playing live music to accompany a 1924 silent film documentary of a 7-week world odyssey voyage from Italy to Australia.

  1. What characteristics and beliefs do you think small business owners need to survive?

Resilience. Adaptability. Optimism. Calculated risktaking.

  1. What’s the one piece of advice you have been given that you still remember today?

When I was a kid and expressing interest in something but lacking in confidence my mum would always say “just try”.

  1. Technology seems to be changing most industries, how has it impacted yours?

Online ticketing is prevalent now. Publicity is now more online than in printed form. The submission process is now online.

  1. Sourcing new performances over the past 20 years; you must have met some interesting people! What makes a performance successful?

The main aspect of a show that an audience responds to most is artistic integrity. We often get the comment after a show “I had never heard of this act before and didn’t know what to expect but I really liked it”.  It is also important that the artists have the ability to connect with their audience. It is also important that you select the shows that are going to appeal and suit the demographic.

  1. Ten years from now, will regional Australia still be visiting the theatre to watch shows or, will they be delivered virtually or, will people still want to get outside and visit the theatre and mingle with others?

There is no real comparison to online versus experiencing a performance live. Apart from the quality of the live theatre experience people also like to be sociable and catch up with their friends and community. You can’t hug online.

Thanks so much for your contribution to our newsletter Mary and let’s hope you can’t hug online ten years from now!