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Since taking over as artistic
director and chief executive
of The Street Theatre in
2006, Caroline Stacey has
Now her grand vision for
the theatre is coming to fruition, with work
underway to extend and upgrade the venue.
For the passionate performing arts
campaigner, theatre is an important way
to connect artists and audiences. She sees
The Street Theatre as a conduit for local
talent and a place to share Canberra's
"There's a sense of connecting across
communities to build community, to give
us a stronger sense of who we are as
Canberrans and how we sit, not just here,
but nationally and also internationally,"
The upgraded Street Theatre is one of
three arts hubs proposed in the Loxton
Review into the Arts. The others will be a
music hub at Ainslie Arts Centre and the
controversial visual arts hub at Kingston
The $3.18 million extension and
upgrade to the current facilities will
provide Canberra its first custom designed
The extension will become a place for
performers, writers and directors to come
together and develop local theatre.
Encouraging local talent has been
Stacey's biggest achievement since she
arrived at The Street Theatre.
It was her vision to move the theatre
from basically being a venue for hire to
being a centre for independent artists with
a focus on contemporary performances.
Stacey sees the theatre's role as
providing the support for artists to tell new
stories and explore different mediums.
"We have a process that goes from the
glimmer of a first idea to creating a work
that's production ready and produced,"
"We're still in a process of really opening
up as many voices as possible."
When completed, the extension will
include a custom-designed rehearsal space
with a sprung floor, storage spaces, and
administrative spaces including meeting
rooms and offices.
The upgrade will also address issues
in the existing building with new sound
proofing, an upgrade to dressing rooms
and the external courtyard, and a basic
landscaping treatment. The foyer will also
be extended, the cafe and box office will be
moved and the current office space will be
The office space will allow staff to move
out of the demountable building currently
used for administration.
"We've really sort of outgrown the
building as it is," Stacey said.
Once the physical development is
complete, Stacey will turn her focus to
attracting more specialist skills to the
team such as producers and production
"We'd love to have two or three
producers more, more producers in-house
to really support a myriad of careers," she
With a sprung floor, the new rehearsal
space will allow performers to work on
different forms of theatre and Stacey hopes
it will lead to further collaboration.
Without support from Canberrans
though, local theatre will continue to
struggle to fund ACT-produced works.
"It's important to be able to give people
work and it's important for people to be
able to earn a living from their artistic
practice," Stacey said.
"We're not at a point in Canberra's life
where many artists in the performing arts
can be confident of sustaining themselves
through their art making."
As well as marking Canberra's 100th
birthday, 2013 will also ring in The Street
Theatre's 20th year of operation.
"We've got a right to be accepted as a
grown-up, sophisticated city and clearly
The Street Theatre's a space where that
should be reflected," Stacey said.
"The centenary is a real rites of passage
moment that will allow us to really move
through all of the baggage into perhaps
another way of being as a city.
"There's a vibrancy and there's an
energy and there's a momentum."
Some interior work has begun in the
theatres, including recarpeting and
upgrading seats. Construction on the
extension will begin in September.
The Street Theatre extension is set to
be completed by March 2013 and Stacey
hopes it will be completed in time to
celebrate Canberra Day.
"I feel very privileged to be living in
Canberra at this time," she said.
Caroline Stacey has a grand vision for growing and developing Canberra's performing
arts community and giving them a theatre they deserve. BY JONI SCANLON
"We've got a right to
be accepted as a grown-up,
sophisticated city and clearly The
Street Theatre's a space where
that should be reflected..."
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