Adelaide Festival Centre receives $90 million

Adelaide Festival Centre Redevelopment Project 2015In an incredibly exciting announcement for the arts community, the South Australian Government declared it will contribute $90 million towards the redevelopment of the Adelaide Festival Centre. This is the most significant capital infrastructure works undertaken at the Centre since it was opened in 1973.  


The redevelopment will address the long-standing issues with the exterior of the building and create new features, including entries, foyers and an interactive arts playground on the bank of the River Torrens.


Specifically, the works are designed to: open up the northern side of the Festival Centre so that the venue is able to better leverage its riverbank location; build new entries to the Festival Theatre and Dunstan Playhouse off a new access pathway that runs along the Northern side of the building; upgrade the Elder Park Kiosk and toilets and construct an interactive children’s arts play area to add to the growing list of attractions on the river bank; renew the Festival Theatre foyers; create new entries for the Theatre off the plaza in line with the original architect John Morphett’s plans; upgrade the exterior of the complex to improve its appearance and to resolve a number of long-standing problems with water damage to the building; and enable an internal technical upgrade – including new sound, light and staging equipment.


Centre Chair Michael Abbott AO QC said, “When it opened in 1973, the Festival Centre was the first performing arts centre built in Australia and it secured South Australia’s reputation as a leader in the arts and culture. This investment will ensure that we can maintain and advance that reputation into the future.”


Centre CEO & Artistic Director Douglas Gautier stated, “The redevelopment is great news for South Australia and the Precinct. It is also great news for our patrons, partners and the artists and performers. The works fix the exterior of the building and the new technical equipment and internal works will make a good start on upgrading the interior, so that audiences can continue to enjoy the best possible arts and entertainment experiences.”


In addition, the State Government has committed to the redevelopment of Festival Plaza under an agreement reached with Walker Corporation.


The whole precinct redevelopment will provide a sweeping multi-purpose plaza seamlessly linking Elder Park and the Riverbank Footbridge to the Adelaide Railway Station and North Terrace and includes a new underground car park, a premium office building along a closed-to-traffic Station Road, a row of cafes, restaurants and retail. The value of the total Government contribution is $180 million.


“The private and public investment into the car park, the Plaza and the precinct will ensure the Adelaide Riverbank becomes one of the great public places in Australia,” said Gautier. “The Adelaide Festival Centre will be integrated with the Plaza at the very heart of the precinct, drawing locals and visitors to the area.”


“We have seen at the Adelaide Oval how an infrastructure investment can help to significantly drive audience growth and we hope to replicate that experience at the Festival Centre,” he added. “Our facilities will be renewed and fully integrated into the precinct.”


Today, the Festival Centre attracts about 750,000 patrons a year, and makes a momentous economic contribution to SA. This capital investment and the eventual full redevelopment will enable the Centre to “meet its true potential as a driver of the arts, culture and entertainment in Adelaide and as being a significant contributor to the State economy.”


The Government estimates that by 2020 the precinct will attract 15.6 million visitors annually.


Abbott noted, “The redevelopment of the Festival Centre and the construction of the car park and plaza will be managed to minimise disturbance and ensure that the Centre remains open and operational during this period.” 


Included in the funding is over $11 million for new technical equipment to ensure that the Centre’s facilities continue to attract the biggest and best shows to Adelaide and to provide enhanced entertainment experiences for Adelaide audiences.


The Centre’s Director of Venue Operations, Michael McCabe, said, “The funding for technical works will enable the Festival Centre to address its most urgent and pressing technical requirements. It will help to bring us up to speed with other venues around the country and will ensure we can continue to present our South Australian and visiting audiences with outstanding theatre experiences.”


These works mark the start of the Adelaide Festival Centre redevelopment. The Government understands that much work still needs to be done on rejuvenating the interior of the building and these additional priorities will be the subject of future discussion.

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