Options for bottoms in Budget boost

Next week’s ACT Budget has a big boost for the Canberra Theatre Centre. FREYLA FERGUSON previews

MORE than $3 million will be pumped into the Canberra Theatre Centre as part of the 2012-13 ACT Budget; funds that will go towards the refurbishment of The Playhouse and The Courtyard Studio.

About 200,000 patrons annually come through the doors of the Canberra Theatre Centre, which houses three theatres; Canberra Theatre, The Playhouse and The Courtyard Studio.

According to director Bruce Carmichael, the funds will primarily go towards patron comfort.

“We survey our patrons, and what they have told us was they want more comfortable seating and we told the Government and they gave us money,” Mr Carmichael said. “They listened to the people.”

Along with new seating for The Playhouse and The Courtyard Studio, funds have also been allocated to projects including the refurbishment of The Playhouse VIP room and Canberra Theatre green room, security cameras for the box office areas, disability access services, the improvement of backstage occupational health and safety, and air conditioning.

“There will also be some green initiatives,” Mr Carmichael said. “It should reduce our carbon footprint because the efficiency of the chillers will mean that our bills go down and we’ll use less gas and less electricity.”

As well as new seating, The Courtyard Studio will also receive a facelift; including new lighting and new flooring.

“The benefits are not just for subscribers and general ticket holders,” Mr Carmichael said.

“Another great thing is for local performers and companies who use The Courtyard Studio. It’s a big win for local artists.”

Minister for Arts Joy Burch said the upgrade would ensure CTC remains the region’s premier performing arts venue – made more important by next year’s Centenary celebrations.

Mr Carmichael agrees; next year is expected to be CTC’s biggest year.

“It’s going to be a blockbuster year, 2013 is going to be an amazing year in Canberra not only because of what’s on offer here, but what’s on offer all over Canberra,” Mr Carmichael said.

Centenary productions already announced to be staged at CTC includes, Sydney Theatre Company’s theatre take on Kate Grenville’s novel “The Secret River” and The Australian Ballet in “Parliament”.

“Within Season 2013 there could be between 19 and 20 shows,” Mr Carmichael said.

“There will be a strong local content, strong local representation.”

Despite the multi-million dollar Budget commitment, Mr Carmichael said plans for a new theatre at CTC are not to be ruled out.

“We want to keep it bubbling along,” he said.

“It’s not something that is going to happen overnight, it might not happen for 10 years.

“The Playhouse for instance was in the planning for probably 15 years before it was actually built.”

The last time the CTC received funding was part of the 2010-2011 ACT Budget, when it received $125,000 for essential works to heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

PHOTO: Theatre centre director Bruce Carmichael… “They listened to the people.” Photo by Silas Brown

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