07/09/2004 - 22:00

Report highlights seven city sites for $30m arts theatre

07/09/2004 - 22:00

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The State Government has committed to replace Perth’s Playhouse Theatre and build a new arts theatre, earmarking $30 million for construction of the new venue, set for completion by 2008.

Report highlights seven city sites for $30m arts theatre

The State Government has committed to replace Perth’s Playhouse Theatre and build a new arts theatre, earmarking $30 million for construction of the new venue, set for completion by 2008.

A study undertaken by theatre consultant Graham Walne has highlighted seven possible locations for the new 500 to 600-seat venue following consultation and submission with 51 arts organisations and individuals.

Arts Minister Sheila McHale said the Government’s asset management process required that all options were canvassed in determining the best site for the venue.

“The report examines a number of potential CBD and riverside sites, which will be evaluated according to issues such as suitability of location, heritage, planning, construction, and whole-of-life costs, including recurrent operational requirements,” she said.

“The location of the venue must be one that is demonstrably the best for the future of the performing arts in this city and the State and I am committed to locating it within the Perth CBD.”

Ms McHale said a study of attendances through 2002 showed Western Australia had the second highest State attendance in Australia for theatre performances and other performing arts events.

Department of Culture and the Arts director general Alastair Bryant said the proposed sites now needed to be evaluated to get the best value for the money and for the community.

“The proposed theatre is particularly exciting because it is the first time in the history of the State that the Government has built a purpose-built drama theatre for professional purposes in the city of Perth,” he told WA Business News.

Five of the seven proposals are for the southern side of the city, and incorporate contact with the river as an important element.

The other two proposals are for locations north of Wellington Street.

Respondents’ preferences were split between these two areas of the CBD.

The proposed theatre is expected to replace the Playhouse Theatre, which between 1997 and 2003 averaged 152 performances and 26 events a year.

On average during this period 244 of the 427 seats available (57 per cent) were occupied each performance.

The Walne report found that the ability of a venue to match the scale and facilities of others around Australia was vital if the venue in question was to attract touring productions.

The report said a venue of between 525 and 575 seats would serve the touring production circuit better than the Playhouse, but that a larger capacity than 575 would begin to conflict with programming at His Majesty’s and the Regal.

Once a site is selected, the report’s author recommended that the architectural design for the new venue be chosen from a design competition.

“New cultural buildings are rare the world over and design competitions recognise the role which architecture plays in many of the world’s most significant buildings,” Mr Walne said.

Western Australia has several projects that have been based on competition for design, among them the Swan Bell Tower and the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.

 

Proposed Art Performance Sites

  • Within the proposed Western Foreshore development.
  • Newspaper House (backing onto Westralia Square).
  • Old Treasury Building (50 Barrack Street).
  • In proposed development over railway line (Entertainment Centre precinct).
  • Corner of Perth Cultural Centre (bordered by Beaufort Street, Francis Street, William Street and Roe Street).
  • Supreme Court Gardens.
  • Perth Concert Hall precinct.

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