Meet Jason Dunstone

April 12th, 2022

Passionate supporter of the arts, father of daughters Lily and Elodie and Managing Director of award-winning agency Square Holes, Jason Dunstone is a dedicated Patch Theatre board member. He shares what being on the Patch board means to him, Patch highlights and his favourite Patch show.

Lily, Jason and Elodie (2021)

Lily and Elodie enjoying Patch’s Emily Loves to Bounce (2008)

How did you discover Patch Theatre and join the Board?

Way back in mid-2008, when my daughter was four (prime Patch Theatre audience age), I was approached by then Chair Deborah Pontifex to see if I’d be interested in joining the board. I didn’t grow up in South Australia, so Patch wasn’t top of mind, but it sounded like a cool opportunity. After seeing Emily Loves to Bounce I was keen to get involved! I remember sitting close to the front, being captivated by the show, and occasionally turning around to see a theatre of children and their parents, grandparents, carers, all equally mesmerised, joyful and engaged. Where do I sign?

What did your children think of their first Patch show?

From memory it was silent absorption, and they have loved every Patch show since. Early on I’d try to discuss the shows with them, but I found that over debriefing just killed the joy – my girls enjoyed interpreting shows in their own way. Children and adults often love Patch shows equally, but adults can overthink and ruin the fun when children just wish to enjoy. Not everything is an immediate learning experience – embrace the moment.

Patch Theatre board Boram Lee, Ben Opie, Janet Worth, Peter Campbell, Anne-Marie Shin, Jason Dunstone and Amanda Wheeler (2019).

What does being on the Patch Board mean to you?

It’s informed a great deal of my thinking as a parent, a professional and person trying to adult as best I can. Both of my daughters have grown up with Patch and they are better people for it. They have gained an understanding of the value of art not always having the same meaning from one person to another and how much joy comes from theatre. It likely has informed how their brains work and I’m sure they will continue to be ever curious about art in its different forms.

Professionally, our agency Square Holes has the arts and creativity as part of its DNA. Patch was the first arts company I worked with professionally, and since we have worked with and/or sponsored most of South Australia’s key arts organisations, including Helpmann Academy, State Theatre and Adelaide Film Festival.

What are some of your highlights from your time on the Patch Board?

From a helicopter perspective it’s nice to see the constant evolution of Patch, and how it goes from strength to strength – never a boring, static moment. Certainly, being in the inner-circle and hearing the mind clinks and clunks of artistic directors Dave Brown and Geoff Cobram has been wonderful. Watching the Patch team come together and leverage networks as they turn concepts into reality has been amazing. Being a small part of this has been a privilege. Over my career I’ve dealt with many commercial creatives, but the creative minds I’ve observed in the arts are next level. Watching such clever adults keep their inner children alive and fresh has been a true highlight of my at Patch experience.

The interesting thing about Patch is that their core audience, being 4–10 year olds, is ever new – it would be easy for Patch to just regurgitate, but in contrast they ever invigorate. The ability for the Patch team to move in new and ever imaginative directions, unlocking new local, national, and global audiences is admirable.

Jason hiking South Australia’s Waitpinga trail (2021)

What do you think is Patch's biggest highlight in its 50 years?

Progress and constant evolution is Patch’s biggest highlight and achievement. The company is in a good spot, likely the best ever (in what seems to be the craziest world ever) but being an arts company aimed predominately at children it doesn’t always result in long-term government funding, so Patch needs to work hard to sustain and continue to prosper, attract donors, increase ticket sales, maintain school support etc. Survival and progress for 50 years is a pretty amazing highlight, but we’re not there yet.

Which Patch show is your favourite?

Too hard to say. Emily Loves to Bounce was brilliant, but my family and I have never been to a bad Patch show.