The State Theatre Company of SA may move to a new home at Fowlers in the West End next year as part of what the State Government describes as a significant reshuffle of performing arts spaces in the city.
Both the State Theatre and children’s theatre company Windmill are currently based in the Adelaide Railway Station, and will be affected by the planned Riverbank precinct redevelopment.
Arts Minister Jack Snelling said the need to find alternative sites for the companies had created an opportunity to “invest in and revitalise the spaces we use for both theatre and dance”. The proposed moves were also in line with the Government’s goal of clustering performance art activity, he said.
“It is a reshuffle we think will create a vibrant cluster for performing arts activity with a mix of rehearsal, office and performance spaces in the burgeoning West End of the city.”
Windmill has already announced its plans to move to a new office in Sturt Street that is currently the home of Restless Dance Theatre, which works with young disabled and non-disabled dancers. Restless is exploring a move to Gilles Street, with the possibility of creating a disability arts centre.
State Theatre Company of SA CEO Rob Brookman has welcomed the prospect of the company becoming the anchor tenant at Fowlers, in the Lion Arts Centre, but said a detailed feasibility study was still required.
He said the most pressing need for the company was office space to accommodate administration staff. However, it is hoped the move might also create a “vibrant hub” incorporating a small-scale performance space with access to a bar, and a second rehearsal space.
While the State Theatre’s primary performance, rehearsal and construction space is, and will remain at, the Adelaide Festival Centre, its growth in recent years means it has to find a secondary rehearsal space for about 20 weeks a year.
“Exploring the option of the Lion as a base for our offices and secondary rehearsal and performances spaces is a very interesting prospect for us,” Brookman said.
“It could create a terrific performance hub that would contribute to the activation of the rapidly emerging West End precinct.”
The Fowlers building hasn’t undergone any significant renovations since 2010-11, and the State Government is working with State Theatre to see what changes might be needed if it was to move in.
It is currently used as a live music venue, Fowlers Live, hosting around two gigs a week. Snelling said the Government was working with the operator/lessee to look at possible future options, including using the building as a multi-purpose performing arts venue or finding an alternative live music venue.
“We are committed to working with the live music sector to examine the space needs for this specialised market and audience,” he said, when asked what alternative venues were being considered. “Until we do this work, it is too early to identity appropriate spaces.”
InDaily contacted Fowlers Live operator Flashpoint Events, but was told any comments should be directed to the Minister.
The Fowlers building is also used by Leigh Warren Dance, which will continue to have access.
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