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Not Enough Venues for Busy Festival State

Not Enough Venues for Busy Festival State
November 4, 2009

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has ordered an audit of the State's existing and planned performance venues to see if they can meet demand, especially at peak festival times.

The audit, to be undertaken by Arts SA, follows community outcry over the conversion of Adelaide University's Scott Theatre into a lecture hall and the planned demolition of Union Hall.

Speaking yesterday, Premier Rann stated "performance venues and spaces play an important role in building stronger, more culturally enriched communities.

"As the Adelaide Festival and Fringe continue to grow, ensuring that sufficient venues are available during peak times of activity is also a priority."

Adelaide University announced Union Hall would be bulldozed in January to make way for new science buildings, as part of its $400 million redevelopment program.

Two applications have since been lodged to have the building heritage-listed and the Save Union Hall Committee will hold a rally on 13th November.

A separate Save Our Festival State campaign registered nearly 1000 members online last week, according to organiser Kate Warren, Secretary of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of SA.

"With so many theatres having been closed and the imminent demolition of Union Hall, possibly limited or no access to the Scott Theatre and restricted access to the Odeon Theatre, the availability of performance space in Adelaide is at crisis level," Ms Warren said.

Premier Rann said the State Government had committed almost $100 million towards three new performance spaces over the past three years. This included $52 million to upgrade the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and build a new multi-purpose venue for 2,500 people, due to be completed early next year.

The new, $43 million Adelaide Film and Screen Centre at Glenside would also have two film studios which could double as performance spaces of 400 and 1000 metres2 respectively. The South Australian Film Corporation was already taking expressions of interest from other arts companies to book these venues from mid-2011.

The concerns come as South Australia prepares to live up to its title of being the Festival State over the coming months.

This month will see Adelaide's Christmas Pageant draw more than 300,000 spectators to the city's streets, the Classic Adelaide rally attracting a 125,000 turnout to the near-city regions, the Adelaide International Three-Day equestrian event (60,000 in the East Parklands) and the Feast festival.

International cricket matches at Adelaide Oval, the novelty of Port Lincoln's Tunarama Festival on Australia Day weekend and the German-themed Schutzenfest add variety to the list.

As of January, Adelaide will become the world's focus for cycling: the Australian mountain bike championships will merge with a big Ausbike exhibition at the Adelaide Convention Centre and overlap with the Santos Tour Down Under.

This year's, the Tour Down Under was evaluated as injecting $39 million into the state's economy while in excess of 750,000 people watched the event, of which, 36,000 came from interstate or overseas specifically to watch it.

Image: The Adelaide Festival Centre.

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