News & Media

Star takes centre stage to kickstart construction

Actress Sigrid Thornton today joined Bracks Government Ministers John Lenders and Mary Delahunty to officially kickstart the construction of Melbourne’s new theatre and recital hall in Southbank.
Mr Lenders, the Minister for Major Projects, said Bovis Lend Lease, the builders of the $120 million project, had already started foundation work on the 500-seat theatre that will be the new home for the Melbourne Theatre Company and the 1000-seat Melbourne Recital Centre.
“Today we are not only laying foundations for a new theatre, we are also laying the foundations for new vibrant cultural precinct for Melbourne,” Mr Lenders said.
“The MRC/MTC project is the missing link in Melbourne’s enviable network of arts infrastructure and will attract new audiences and performances for all Victorians to enjoy.
“The centre will also be vital in supporting Victoria’s emerging musical and theatrical talent.”
Ms Thornton, who was the lead star in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s blockbuster Blue Room, is a keen supporter of local drama production and the project and made a print of her hands in a concrete slab to be auctioned for charity to mark today’s event.
As well as a recital hall, the recital centre will boast recording and broadcasting studios, rehearsal and function rooms and a café/bar. The theatre will also include a rehearsal studio and offices.
The Melbourne Theatre Company’s new theatre would end a 25 year search for a new home for Australia’s oldest professional theatre company. The company has been without a permanent base since the Russell Street Theatre closed.
The Minister for the Arts, Ms Delahunty, said the hall and theatre would complement Southbank’s other first-class arts venues, such as the Melbourne Museum, State Library, National Gallery, ACMI and the Arts Centre.
“This is part of the Government’s $1 billion investment in arts projects across the State which also includes major new regional arts and cultural centres at Sale, Swan Hill, Warragul, Bendigo, Benalla, Ballarat and Shepparton,” she said.
“In addition to cultural benefits of enjoying world-class performances, the project will also deliver an economic boon for the State.
“Once opened, the recital centre will employ up to 15 full-time staff and about 2000 local and international musicians will use the facilities each year creating additional economic spin offs.
“The theatre will employ about 10 full-time workers and create jobs for actors, casual technical, box office and catering staff each year. The construction phase alone will create 500 jobs.”
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne Professor Glyn Davis said today marked a new beginning for the Melbourne Theatre Company.
“The new theatre will give the theatre company a firm financial footing on which to build its impressive national and international reputation,” he said.
Mr Lenders said the State Government was contributing $82 million to the project, the university $12 million, Crown Ltd $16 million and the remaining funds will be obtained from fundraising.
“The new recital centre and theatre is part of the Bracks Government record $12.6 billion investment in infrastructure across the State that is creating jobs and opportunities for suppliers and contractors as well as providing better facilities for all Victorians to use now and in the future.”
The recital centre and theatre are expected to open for business in 2009.