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Historic Woodville Town Hall reborn as an inclusive live entertainment venue
Following an 18-month rebuilding process, the Woodville Town Hall in metropolitan it to reopen as a 900-capacity venue with a focus on diverse and inclusive programming.
Set to host the inaugural AltFest in June, the rebirth of the venue has been undertaken under the stewardship of Deanna Howland.
Speaking to CityMag, Howland explains “I tell everyone, it’s a mini Thebarton Theatre.”
A little under half the size of the Thebarton Theatre, the venues bear a striking resemblance – from the ornate balconies to the plush leather lounge seats in the stalls.
Woodville Town Hall first opened as a cinema in 1927 and has a long history as a community hub, hosting dances, balls, end-of-year school concerts and civic ceremonies, right up until a storm caused severe damage to the roof in early 2014.
The rebuilding process has restored the venue to its grandiose best and is now looking to recover from losing the large portion of its regular hirers who moved on to other venues.
In the rebuilding process, Charles Sturt Council brought in Howland, who has history in events and logistics - most recently with the Adelaide Festival Centre, working on projects like the Adelaide guitar Festival and DreamBig Children’s Festival - to bring a new lease of life to the space as a live entertainment venue.
Explaining that the Council have multiple aims for the venue, Howland told CityMag “they want to see it run more like a performing arts venue, and more like a business that’s bringing in hires and bringing people in, but they don’t want it to lose its touch with the community, making it affordable for community groups to still hold special events here.
“What I’m trying to do is increase the hire but still maintain a cheaper rate for community groups, and also we’re starting, this year, our own annual program of events.”
In the two years Howland has been custodian of the hall, she’s seen an array of diverse events, commenting “we’ve had a famous singer from Greece, we’ve had comedians from the Philippines, (and) we’ve had the Nepalese Idol.”
Howland aims to continue to work with local community groups looking for a suitable venue, as well as creating a diverse and inclusive program of events herself, adding “in terms of our own programming for Woodville Town Hall, we’ve made a vision statement that we want to present a diversity of artists on stage, as well as providing for our diverse community.
“So we want to see women, we want to see Indigenous, we want to see diverse cultural backgrounds, the queer community – we want to see everyone being presented.
“This venue is fully accessible and we’re really proud of that – it’s got a hearing loop, when we do comedy this year, we will have an Auslan interpreter, so we’re trying to do what we can to be inclusive in every way.”
The first event in Woodville Town Hall’s own programming will be AltFest, held on Saturday 29th June.
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