A SERIES of grants and donations have helped Arena Theatre Company keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Executive director Sharon Custers said two grants would help develop new works while donations help keep the company operating.
The grants include $15,000 from Regional Arts Victoria to develop a new theatre work with local South Sudanese women and $20,000 from the Australia Council for support to develop a new virtual reality work.
"It's really exciting. We were approached by Bendigo Community Health Services to work with them to start a choir (with the South Sudanese women) to write their own music and songs and tell their story," Ms Custers said.
"A lot of our work is (also) moving in that direction of technology-based work, so it's exciting to have that financial support."
Ongoing support from Creative Victoria and a donation of $20,000 from The Besen Foundation will go to company operations while $6000 donated by local individuals and companies through Arena's end-of-financial-year campaign.
"(The donations have) been a life saver," Ms Custers said. "We have got eight staff that work for us who have had their livelihood saved by these funds. We will definitely able to keep all of our staff and are grateful for that."
"We have had a huge amount of support from Creative Victoria for operational costs to keep going over this time. Local donors are giving what they can which gives more support to the company to keep going."
Ms Custers said Arena was looking to be able to deliver programs and theatre shows to schools in the future.
"We are really looking to the future to when we can connect with young people again," she said. "We are working to making that happen as soon as possible. If students can't leave school to go to theatre, we're bringing it to them."
During the shutdown, Ms Custers said Arena had to re-think what company was able to do.
"Everything was on the table and still is. It was pretty dire (at one point) but we are lucky to have support," she said. "We are still having to really think about what the future of the company looks like.
"The support of these different organisations gives us room to look to the future. We are planning for a future where we can continue to deliver the type of projects we have for 55 years."