2016 marks the eighth year of "The Palmies", now firmly established as the ultimate recognition of excellence in all aspects of the flourishing Gold Coast Community Theatre scene.
The Palmies were inspired by the foundation of the Canberra Area Theatre Awards in 1994. Sitting with three other people in a Canberra café, Kate Peters was bemoaning the fact that the expensive Green Room Awards ceremony they had just attended had been all about esoteric performances and thinly-attended productions, and had ignored major community productions which had enticed thousands of Canberrans out to the theatre.
She suggested that an Awards system to acknowledge the contribution of non-professional, community groups should be created. And so, with support from Coralie Wood, a long-time colleague and professional publicist, the Canberra Amateur Theatre Awards was born. Kate’s husband, L.G., suggested the replacement of the word “Amateur” with “Area”, to give the Awards a wider catchment area, and the Canberra Area Theatre Awards (the C.A.T. Awards) was off and running. It quickly became a popular and widely respected forum for the Canberra theatrical community, involving showbiz personnel and politicians as presenters of the awards, and becoming a major night on the A.C.T. social calendar.
When she re-located to the Gold Coast in 1997, Kate was asked if she was going to start the awards here, but declined. By 2008 however, many approaches had been made to her to create a similar model. Only the Gold Coast Little Theatre had an award system, and that was restricted to their own productions.
In 2009, after expanding her knowledge of groups and areas (and mounting several Queensland tours and productions herself), she launched the GOLD COAST AREA THEATRE AWARDS, a move that has been warmly and enthusiastically welcomed by the theatre groups and their audiences, as well as gaining support from sponsors and the endorsement and participation of many well-known Australian theatre professionals.