Some Canberra Theatre Centre quality of life renovations are among a handful of ‘screwdriver ready’ construction projects green lit by the ACT Government to keep local jobs.
A long-awaited upgrade to the theatre centre’s toilet facilities, along with a handful of security works, will employ 29 people. When combined with other government construction projects around Canberra, the job figure increases to 83.
Café servery upgrades at the National Arboretum, a full internal repaint of the National Convention Centre, an office fit-out for the ACT Integrity Commission and providing an election results display system for the Electoral Commission round out the latest works commissioned by the ACT Government.
A redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre Centre complex has long been at the top of the city infrastructure wish-list for the Barr Government.
While it’s yet to be seen how significantly the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the ACT Government’s bottom line, Canberra Theatre Centre director Alex Budd said the works undertaken now will be complementary to the future redevelopment of the facility, whenever that may be.
“All of the projects we are working on have the longer-term redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre Centre in mind,” Mr Budd said.
“I think the Theatre and the rebuilding of the Theatre will be a major contributor to the ACT economy when it’s able to be rebuilt, but I’m absolutely cognisant of the impact that COVID’s had, not just on our industry but the Territory more broadly.
“I think the most important thing is that as Canberrans we rally together and agree on the priority of a whole range of projects of how we come out of COVID.”
With COVID-19 throwing live performance and the arts at large into disarray, Mr Budd said the Theatre has certainly not been immune to that.
“Canberra Theatre Centre very proudly raises a great majority of its revenue through ticket sales … When we close the doors, we can’t sell tickets, and that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.
“We are completely supportive of the reasons that this has had to happen but starting up again is going to be a big challenge for theatre around Australia,” he said.
As for when productions will again tread Canberra Theatre Centre’s boards, Mr Budd said it’s dependent on how the State and Federal governments manage the crisis moving forward, with touring productions making up the bulk of their season.
“We hope that smaller scale local production will be able to happen here first,” he said.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said his government plans to announce other projects of this kind, as they seek to bring forward work that would otherwise have been undertaken in the second half of 2020.
“We’re looking at ways we can bring forward other projects of this scale that do provide important support for business at this time but also achieve really practical and important outcomes for the community,” Mr Barr said.