2010 was a year of reckoning for Chamber Made. Having lost half its government funding in 2009, it faced the real possibility of collapse. Newly appointed Artistic Director, David Young had to act quickly to reimagine and reposition the company. As he recounts in his essay, Desperate Measures:
I had 12 months to re-establish strong ties with funders, secure diversified and sustainable income streams, revamp the company structure, get back old audiences and find new ones, put my own stamp on the company’s brand and reputation. Oh, and make some art.
Young responded to this challenge by streamlining administration, forging new supportive alliances, and producing performances that were relatively inexpensive.
There followed a remarkable period of growth and change. A series of 10 ‘Living Room Operas’ were produced between 2010–2014. Each was privately commissioned and performed in a domestic living room, and many went on to re-produce, with future versions presented in both live and digital spaces. These nomadic artworks were a pragmatic response to hard times, but also an opportunity to take risks which are impossible when working at a larger scale. The result was a collection of critically acclaimed works that re-established Chamber Made as a significant feature of Australia’s music theatre landscape.
During this time, David Young also made contact with Associate Professor Lawrence Harvey of RMIT’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios, as part of the Company’s forging of new supportive alliances.
The partnership between Chamber Made and RMIT University developed over several years. The first collaboration between SIAL and Chamber Made was in 2010 (Manifest: Revealing auditory spatial performance), while a second followed in 2012 (The Box). These projects focussed on performance-making processes, but their success suggested ways that a Chamber Made/RMIT partnership project might support Chamber Made in a more integrated way; focusing not just on artistic production but also on organisational operations and audience development in a climate of rapid technological change.
A research group was established in 2011, and developed an ARC Linkage grant proposal, successfully obtained in 2013.