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Call To Refurbish Ageing Adelaide Theatres

Call To Refurbish Ageing Adelaide Theatres
June 7, 2010

Adelaide's shortage of arts venues would best be fixed by refurbishing existing theatres, according to Adelaide Festival Centre Chief Executive and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier.

Writing in Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser, Gautier was critical of South Australian Government report into the city's shortage of performing arts space which suggested building a new multipurpose 'black box' cultural venue.

Gautier suggested that the best, and by far the most economical, way forward was to refurbish the aged and deteriorating infrastructure in the city's existing theatres.

Gautier explained he had been working with the South Australian Government on plans to update the Festival Centre along with Her Majesty's Theatre in Grote Street, which is also run by the Festival Centre Trust.

"Make no mistake, these are a great set of venues," he wrote, adding "by far the most cost effective option for the city is to get them properly refurbished and fully utilised, before we start thinking about building new ones."

The report, by consultant Elizabeth Raupach, recommends planning for a new 'black box' complex of recital hall and drama spaces, as well as harnessing the Adelaide Entertainment Centre's new hall at Thebarton into a 'high arts' venue.

In her report, Raupach lists a series of technical and functional shortcomings of the Festival Centre complex.

She also pointed out that the spaces are prohibitively expensive for most local companies, which cannot afford the front of house and technical staff, let alone the venue hire.

She says Her Majesty's Theatre suffers from a cramped foyer, bad sightlines, uncomfortable seating, inadequate seat row spacing, inadequate disability access, bad dressing room facilities, buzzing in the sound system and an orchestra pit that is too small.

Gautier said that since he had taken charge of the Festival Centre four years ago he had been able to build activity from less than 50% to 83% of capacity.

Gautier said an updated Adelaide Festival Centre had a central role to play in the greater riverside recreational precinct.

Image shows Her Majesty's Theatre in Adelaide's Grote Street.


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