Jack Heywood Memorial Arts Fund

The Douglas Theatre Arts Group Inc. are honoured to be part of this fantastic initiative to assist up and coming artists. The Jack Heywood Memorial Arts Fund is a great opportunity to assist many of the wonderful talented people within the Douglas Shire.

The aim of the fund is to financially assist aspiring local artists in achieving a goal that will further their arts practice in a meaningful way. The fund will be open to applicants throughout the year with a maximum amount of $1,000 able to be awarded per applicant per calendar year. The grant is open to practitioners of all art mediums and there is no age limit although they must be a resident of the Douglas Shire.

The grant will be awarded on need and merit as agreed by a majority committee decision and totally at the discretion of the Jack Heywood Memorial Arts Fund committee.

John (aka Jack, Johnno, Johnny Driftwood) Charles Heywood

John Charles Heywood was born in Ballina, New South Wales in 1937, and passed away in November 2017 doing something he loved: Acting.

Jack initially started his working life as an agronomist in Grafton after winning a scholarship to Hawkesbury Agricultural College (H.A.C.), and this is where the acting bug bit; being involved in productions and joining the local ‘Pelican Players’ theatre group.

He first visited his beloved Port Douglas in 1958 as part of a study tour of pasture species. It was love at first sight: He was struck by the contrast of his native sub-tropical environment to the tropical climes of the far north.

His love of acting then took him to the newly formed National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) from which he graduated in 1961 and then undertook his “apprenticeship years” as he called it; working in all aspects of Theatre as performer, designer, director, and in management. He toured with companies throughout regional Australia. 1964 took him overseas where he worked in Rome as a drama coach and took “bit parts” in Italian films, and for five years Jack worked around England, Europe and the USA. Arriving back in Australia he thought his time was ‘all over’ and surfed the east coast before settling in Noosa QLD. where he started and ran a successful catering business.

In 1971 he came to Port Douglas and took over the lease of the Nautilus Restaurant and while there helped instigate the ‘Play Day Port Douglas Festivals’ (P.D.P.D.) of 1976-78, the forerunner of the current ‘Port Douglas Carnivale’.

After 8 years Jack returned to the ‘big smoke’ and restarted a showbiz career vowing to return to Port Douglas “Once it was out of his system”.  So, he went to Melbourne, a new town for him. He auditioned and got a break with the Melbourne Theatre Co. and then the ABC, Crawford Productions, Grundy Productions on film and small screen working on most of the iconic shows of the time. Here he wrote his first screenplay and then ventured to SA where he worked a number of profit-sharing productions. Whether it was a stage production in a major city or an educational workshop in a regional town, Jack Heywood saw most of this great land through the eyes of an artist. As an actor and raconteur, he was able to delve into the relationships going on around him and be inspired.

Finally, after 25 years AWOL, Jack re-found his spiritual home at Fourmile Beach Port Douglas. He found accommodation with room for an art studio and settled. ‘Retirement’ for Jack meant rekindling his interest in the visual arts. Never ceasing to create and perform he worked with the local professional theatre Company in Cairns. Health issues dogged him for a while and Jack, during his convalescence, wrote a play that was produced for the Cairns Festival in 2006. With the assistance of the Regional Arts Development Fund, Jack then specifically wrote and directed 4 more plays on local historical stories. In the last year of his life Jack completed an original musical love story set against the background of the Daintree Blockade, called ‘Love in the Treetops’ –“Deep green passion and red hot drama”. A play he was hoping to stage at his beloved Clink Theatre.

Just after his 80th Birthday, in October 2017, he auditioned for a film role and to his pleasure, and concern (due to his ill health), got the role. On the day of his passing he performed his final role on film with aplomb, enjoying his brief moment with an up and coming Australian actor doing well in Hollywood and on arriving back from the film set he was elated and so obviously relieved he quietly passed away.

“I had a beautiful Theatre, a beautiful venue to play with”. “My proudest moments in all my artistic life were at The Clink Theatre”.

It is in Jack’s honour that we have established the Jack Heywood Memorial Arts Fund so that his memory may live on in the way he touched our hearts while he was still alive.

The fund has been designed as an arts grant so that we can financially assist aspiring local artists to achieve a goal that will further their arts practice in a meaningful way. It is open to applicants throughout the year regardless of medium and with no age barriers.

Please fill in the application form below for grant funding consideration. 


The Jack Heywood Memorial Arts Fund

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