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The business of theatre

THE dream of a new theatre in Perth has resulted in a unique partnership between the Black Swan Theatre Company and Woodside.

It’s a partnership that has delivered Black Swan an innovative business plan to achieve its goal of a new home in the city.

Black Swan Theatre Company general manager Duncan Ord said he was impressed with the finely tuned planning process Woodside uses to get major projects up and running.

Black Swan already had missed out on an opportunity to secure a home in the new convention centre as a result of the push for a new soccer stadium.

A theatre attracting between 400 and 500 people an evening just can’t compete with thousands of soccer fans.

“We could see the economic drivers for both the Government and the developers,” Mr Ord said.

“I thought we could work with Woodside and take the process they would apply to, say, gas train number five, and apply that to our project.

“So we looked to use the way business goes about getting a project up.

“We developed our first stage identity (to identify) what the drivers were for getting the new theatre built, including community response, competition and arguments like we should fix hospitals before we build a theatre.”

Black Swan explored corporate support for the construction and ongoing costs for running the theatre.

The building could work as a showcase for a business’s resources, including structural elements and technology.

“Ultimately we see this as a project for the arts industry … perhaps private (property) developers see the theatre married into lifestyle or use it as a trading card for another area they are looking at developing,” Mr Ord said.

“It’s taking a fairly lateral approach with the intention of reducing the up-front capital cost to the Government and finding a way to operate the facility with the least amount of drain on government resources.

“The last thing the Government wants to do is build something that costs more money in the future.”

When Black Swan Theatre Company floated the idea of a theatre in the city it prompted interest from a number of councils around the river.

The derelict power station also has been flagged as a possible location in addition to sites in East Perth.

This unique sponsorship model has been recognised by the Government and is one of the projects short listed for the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Scheme Awards.

p In the coming weeks Business News will feature profile pieces on a number of the projects shortlisted for the 2000/2001 State Arts Sponsorship Scheme Awards and a special feature, including the finalists, in the November 22 issue.

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8th-West Australian Ballet$10.5m
9th↑WA Opera$6.6m
10th-Black Swan State Theatre Company$5.9m
11th↓FORM$5.8m
12th-Country Arts WA$5.1m
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