Could Canberra Theatre Centre become another Enmore Theatre?


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Ms Elvin advised annual studies hearings this week the prevailing 1200-seat theatre was greater than 50 years previous, and its dimension restricted the productions that would come to Canberra.

The ACT is looking to Forum Theatre in Melbourne for inspiration to potentially repurpose Canberra Theatre.

The ACT is seeking to Discussion board Theatre in Melbourne for inspiration to probably repurpose Canberra Theatre. Credit score:Paul Jeffers

“The prevailing Canberra Theatre, which was opened 1965 and naturally it opened at a stage when a variety of the foremost performing arts centres have been entering into internationally just like the Lincoln Centre, and it pre-dated just about the entire different performing arts centres in Australia just like the Sydney Opera Home, the Adelaide Pageant Centre, the Melbourne Arts Centre,” Ms Elvin mentioned.

“It was good to pre-date it however I suppose it meant it began to age first so there are two major respects by which we’re looking for enhancements.”

Ms Elvin mentioned the variety of seats made it tough to make productions financially possible, given there have been many fastened prices no matter what number of tickets have been offered.

“The second major difficulty that we wish to deal with is the technical constraints of the venue. You’ll be acquainted from attending performances right here that … it’s received that slight letterbox look to it. In up to date phrases it’s thought of rather a lot decrease than different venues on the performing arts circuit in order that tends to restrict technically the productions we will match into the venue,” Ms Elvin mentioned.

“There are different points like the scale of the stage, the scale of the wings, the peak of the fly tower, the backstage services and that signifies that both the productions need to be re-sized for the Canberra Theatre, which will be very costly or productions can tour to Canberra alone and it’s actually a mix of these two issues – the auditorium dimension and the technical constraints of Canberra Theatre.”


Ms Elvin mentioned there was an argument the centre had a “viable ongoing life, probably as a flat-floor venue for up to date music, cabaret and comedy.

She mentioned the theatre was in “fixed demand”, particularly right now of yr.

“Dance colleges for instance are heading into a really busy time of yr and it may be fairly tough to accommodate all of these makes use of in order that may very well be an additional persevering with use for the prevailing facility,” Ms Elvin mentioned.

“We’re at the moment taking a look at different fashions just like the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, or the Discussion board Theatre in Melbourne to see if these supply viable fashions for the way we’d repurpose that venue.”

A authorities spokeswoman refused to say what different choices have been being checked out as a part of the redevelopment.

“As soon as the federal government has agreed on most popular choices for the brand new and current services, the enterprise case will likely be commissioned to discover these choices intimately,” she mentioned.

“This may happen over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 monetary years and can embody alternatives for group engagement.”

Canberra’s reside music venues have been beneath rising pressures in current instances, with the closure of Academy and near-closure of The Phoenix this yr alone.

Music ACT director Daniel Ballantyne mentioned whereas repurposing Canberra Theatre was a “incredible proposal”, there additionally wanted to be regulatory adjustments akin to these in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to permit reside music to outlive alongside residential improvement throughout town extra broadly.


These adjustments within the 2000s positioned a higher onus on new developments to include noise attenuation and set noise limits particularly for music venues.

“These core regulatory adjustments have allowed the Valley to stay essentially the most energetic centre for reside music in Australia,” Mr Ballantyne mentioned.

Mr Ballantyne mentioned the “Enmore answer” wouldn’t produce an “Enmore state of affairs” as that theatre had a selected historical past.

Nevertheless he mentioned the Canberra Theatre might develop into a “phenomenal” reside music venue in its personal proper, with standing room of 1500-2000, as long as it sustained its advertising and marketing of the venue and fascinating with promoters.

“There is a robust group at Canberra Theatre for the time being who actually get it. It comes all the way down to individuals, there’s nothing inherent within the venue itself.”

Metropolis Renewal Authority chief govt Malcolm Snow mentioned he was additionally eager to keep away from issues of St Kilda in Melbourne, which has seen reside music venues disappear in recent times as a consequence of gentrification.

“What we don’t wish to see is that we lose one of many issues that contributes to activation,” Mr Snow mentioned.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Occasions, masking ACT politics.

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