Sunday, May 26, 2024

Launceston theatre project DA in the wings

The City of Launceston Council has today announced it expects to lodge a Development Application for a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Princess Theatre and Earl Arts Centre Complex before the end of 2024.

The major project would see significant upgrades to the backstage, performance, front-of-house and other public-facing areas in the Princess Theatre, along with a complete redevelopment of the Earl Arts Centre.

Renowned architectural firm Lovell Chen is overseeing the planned upgrades, which are aimed at enhancing the complex’s amenities for the general public, and significantly improving accessibility and functionality in front-of-house and backstage spaces, Council said in a statement.

Lovell Chen has previously worked on similar projects involving Victoria’s Regent Theatre, Princess Theatre, Athenaeum Theatre, and Palais Theatre.

The project will represent the Princess Theatre’s most significant overhaul in more than 100 years, with the Council hoping to see construction underway in early 2026.

Acting Mayor, Hugh McKenzie said the project would deliver a range of enhancements at the Princess Theatre to improve the visitor experience and increase seating capacity at the Earl Arts Centre.

“Lovell Chen has been working closely with the Council and Theatre North as they complete the architectural work required to transform these important cultural assets, and we’re expecting to be in a position to lodge a formal Development Application for the project later this year,” Acting Mayor McKenzie said.

The Council says it will work with Theatre North and theatre companies to relocate productions where possible to other venues — including the revamped Albert Hall — during the construction period.

Theatre North General Manager, Amanda Shepherd said there was strong support throughout the theatre community for this important project.

“We’re excited by the opportunities that await when the refurbishment is complete,” Ms Shepherd said.

“In the meantime, our challenge is to ensure Launceston can enjoy a fulsome calendar of performing arts while our ‘home’ must inevitably be closed during the construction phase.

“Theatre North and our local theatre companies will be programming differently during this period and we look forward to seeing new and creative performances tailored to these different spaces,” she said.

“At this stage we’re anticipating we’ll be starting construction in early 2026, but it’s important to emphasise that we’re still in the design phase at this point in time and we have the formal planning process, construction tendering and funding options still to work through,” Acting Mayor McKenzie said.

“We’re eager to get the project to the DA stage as quickly as possible because that will enhance our ability to seek funding support from our State and Federal Government partners, as well as allow work to begin at the earliest possible opportunity — which is a top priority.

“It’s exciting to see work progressing on this transformational cultural project, and I’m looking forward to seeing a DA advertised later this year.”

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