16 April 2024

Ambitious future for Civic Theatre unveiled as master plan enters public submission phase

| Jarryd Rowley
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The Civic Theatre Masterplan has officially been unveiled to the Wagga public and is up for public submission.

The Civic Theatre master plan has officially been unveiled to the Wagga public and is up for public submission. Photo: Wagga Wagga City Council.

The master plan for the Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre is now available for public feedback.

The draft plan aims to meet the current demands of the community performing arts space by adding two new venues to the existing theatre.

Venue one, the current space, will maintain the original 491-seat auditorium while the second and third spaces will focus on live music and intimate events.

Venue two will have enough space for 774 people standing, 328 people seated for a performance, or 270 people seated for a gala-type event.

The third and smallest venue will be for more intimate gigs and events with enough room for 119 people seated or 200 people standing.

The total capacity of the three venues will increase from the current 491 spaces to 1465.

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Executive Director at Eastern Riverina Arts Tim Kurylowicz has applauded Wagga Wagga City Council’s work in delivering the master plan, hoping the proposed development will draw more talent to the city while also providing more space for local performers.

“If we build this venue, the people of Wagga can expect a whole lot more dance, cabaret, magic, circus, rock and roll and business events like trade shows and conference dinners as well,” he said.

“Just as importantly, maybe even more so, local community groups, civic groups, dance groups, theatre groups and the legendary Wagga School of Arts can all look forward to a time when there’s a venue they can afford to hire that’s also available on the dates they need it.

“This has not been the case in Wagga for a lot of years now.”

The master plan proposes two new venues to provide appropriate spaces for different shows’ needs. Photo: Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre.

Mr Kurylowicz also highlighted that the master plan demonstrates the revenue projections of the expanded theatre will keep pace with the projected operating costs.

“Council basically subsidises the theatre by a bit more than a million [dollars] a year,” he explained.

“If it does dramatically expand this theatre into a venue that can support three events per night instead of one the revenue will increase to cover the increased staffing cost. I think ratepayers will be pleased to learn that all of this performance and community activity can be dramatically increased in a way that actually increases the sustainability and viability of the operation.”

With the expansions to exceed 750 standing spaces, Mr Kurylowicz believes the upgraded hub will attract more national talent.

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“This would align with the needs of the whole tier of touring artists currently skipping over Wagga,” he said.

“In the next month, you’ve got Jessica Mauboy, and Mel B from the Spice Girls all touring through venues in regional Victoria including Albury but then skipping Wagga straight to Canberra or Sydney.

“We’ve been missing out on this tier of entertainers for a very long time for the simple reason that we don’t have a venue that can serve 750 to 1000 people.

“These designs take advantage of what is probably the most beautiful view in Wagga with the view across Wollundry Lagoon.

“This is not a public space we want to get wrong, and the configurable design of the venue will do what we hoped it would, which is to enable a host of events and performances in Wagga.”

The master plan for the Civic Theatre can be viewed on the Wagga Wagga City Council website.

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