Benita De Wit heads to prestigous theatre school in NYC

30 June 2013

University of Sydney Performance Studies alumna, Benita De Wit, has been accepted to study a Master of Fine Arts  (Directing) at Columbia University in New York City - one of the most prestigious theatre schools in the world.

Each year, only six applicants from around the world are accepted into this three-year degree to study under award-winning American theatre and opera director, Anne Bogart. The degree offers its students the opportunity to work daily with actors, playwrights, dramaturges, and managers, and their highly practical training includes directing great classical texts, working with playwrights on new plays, and collaborating with artists of many disciplines to put together over 20 productions.

Education is expensive in the US, especially at its leading universities, so De Wit is funding her Master's through a number of grants and scholarships, and is also getting some help from supporters thanks to the crowd-funding platform, Pozible.

"It's been a really surprising and touching experience so far" says De Wit. "I've reconnected with old school friends and I've had donations from London, California and Germany - from people I've never even met!" Her former places of work, the Griffin Theatre Company, the Seymour Centre and Dendy Newtown are donating rewards for Benita to offer in return for support for her campaign.

"There isn't a lot of funding for the arts," she says. "This is why crowd-funding and social media are so important. You can reach out to people you would never otherwise be able to get in contact with. And you can maintain that contact over a career or across continents. I think we're only starting to realise what is possible when we connect artists directly with audiences."

Once she has completed her Master's, De Wit hopes to Sydney with international networks and the skills to create dynamic new work as a young leader in the Australian arts sector.