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Barangaroo development to include new Sydney theatre?

Barangaroo development to include new Sydney theatre?
October 26, 2014

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that Sydney’s new Barangaroo casino development is likely to be the site of a new 1,650-plus seat theatre venue.

In spite of frequent calls for the development of a medium capacity theatre in Sydney, Barangaroo’s developers are reportedly in discussions with the UK-owned international entertainment company Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) for the group to open its first Australian theatre.

A spokesperson for ATG told The Age Deputy Arts Editor Bhakthi Puvanenthiran that it was an open secret that ATG was in talks with both the Barangaroo development site and Theatre Royal for a new Sydney theatre, and talked up the possibilities that Barangaroo offered as a cultural precinct.

Torben Brookman, Executive Producer for ATG's Asia-Pacific division backed Barangaroo offered as a cultural precinct, telling the Herald "Barangaroo provides a great opportunity for the city of Sydney to build on what I think could be an exciting arts precinct that would include not just theatres but galleries too.

"(ATG) has become so successful by working through a model that involves venue ownership, ticketing and producing shows (and) we'll be looking at commercial plays and musicals, probably leaning towards the musicals."

Brookman told Puvanenthiran that ATG was interested in a venie of with a capacity of 1,650 to 2,000 seats, echoing the Barangaroo Delivery Authority's 2012 report that called for a main-stage lyric theatre with a 2,000-seat capacity.

Brookman added "a theatre of this size could then accommodate larger shows but also maintain intimacy for mid-sized productions.”

Brookman also backed the expansion of Sydney’s ‘cultural ribbon’, a linear grouping of venues that begins at the Sydney Opera House and extends through the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Sydney Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company/The Wharf venues at Walsh Bay.

Potentially, this expansion could include a new theatre venue at Barangaroo.

Commenting on this, Brookmand added "around the Rocks area and then going from the Sydney theatre to Barangaroo, I think there's an exciting opportunity there."

However, both the City of Sydney it is 10-year Cultural Policy and Action Plan and British theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh, earlier this year called for medium-sized theatres in the city.

The City of Sydney Policy identified the need for a responsive 500-seat venue while, in an interview with Fairfax Media earlier this year, Mackintosh said Sydney had lost too many of its medium-sized theatres – Her Majesty's Theatre and the Regent among them – leaving behind a city with only the very big (2,000-plus seat theatres like the Lyric and the Capitol) and the very small.

Commenting on the Barangaroo development, Mackintosh stated "zillions are being spent" and a medium sized theatre should be a part of that, "it could replace the torn-down Her Majesty's Theatre and could connect that area (which includes the Walsh Bay venue) Theatre] along the wharf."

ATG, founded by British entrepeneurs Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire, owns more than 30 theatres across Britain as well as one on Broadway. It has further acquisitions in Asia, the US and Australia to come. Most recently it toured Legally Blonde in Australia.

Click here to read the City of Sydney’s Cultural Policy and Action Plan.

Click here to read the full story in Sydney Morning Herald.



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