Revolution coming for Sydney's north

In September Willoughby City Council will add to the entertainment and performing arts landscape of Sydney and open the doors to The Concourse, a hub of culture, information and entertainment in the heart of Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore. The centrepiece of The Concourse will be the live arts venues.

In September Willoughby City Council will add to the entertainment and performing arts landscape of Sydney and open the doors to The Concourse, a hub of culture, information and entertainment in the heart of Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore. The centrepiece of The Concourse will be the live arts venues.

Sydney has demonstrated a huge demand for specialist venues and this welcome addition to the ever growing world of the performing arts will showcase a huge variety of entertainments in a complex purpose built to suit many needs.  The Concourse will offer a unique mix of venues, including a 1,000 seat Concert Hall, 500 seat theatre, studio space, rehearsal rooms, conference and event venues.

The Concourse will first open to the public on Saturday 10 September with an Open Day, followed by a Gala Opening on Saturday 17 September.  A star studded line-up of Australia’s most popular performers will entertain an invited audience of local dignitaries, politicians, VIPs, celebrities, community groups and locals.

In Sydney, theatre venues are in high demand and The Concourse is receiving bookings from all sectors of the performing arts.  A full program will be announced soon, but some events already scheduled include Pam Ayres, Selby and Friends, and The Willoughby Theatre Company production of The Boy From Oz.

The Concourse is a thrilling new entertainment precinct – an inspirational, welcoming gathering space for Sydney Festival artists and audiences to play in each summer, and certainly one of the most impressive live venues in Sydney.  Each of The Concourse’s environments is equipped with a fantastic array of performance facilities and limitless creative possibilities – from the generous, light-filled foyer spaces to the handsome 1,000 seat Concert Hall and intimate 500 seat Theatre.  I can’t wait to present to you the best Sydney Festival has to offer in these glorious venues this coming January.  Congratulations to all!” – Lindy Hume, Festival Director, Sydney Festival 2012.
 
Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly said the $171 million project would add to the growth of the Chatswood CBD. 

“The Concourse will bring an extra element to Chatswood, which is already established as one of Sydney’s leading shopping destinations.  It will provide a dynamic, accessible and progressive nucleus for live art and entertainment, providing a performance venue for local, national and international artists as well as providing an opportunity for students, emerging artists and young performers to take to the stage of a leading performing arts venue.  The extensive library will also provide a state of the art learning centre and information and resource hub for the community,” he said.
 
Willoughby City Council has engaged Century Venues to manage the Performing Arts Centre on The Concourse.  Following a thorough tender process, the industry renowned venue operators were selected due to their experience and contacts in the industry, ability to produce a mix of community and professional shows and their track record of nurturing young and emerging artists.  A leader in the industry, Century Venues currently manage six venues, including the Enmore Theatre and The Metro, and a suite of related businesses including film and television product.
 
Greg Khoury of Century Venues, who will manage live arts and conference venues on The Concourse, is excited about the potential of the venue with its unique offering and variety of performance spaces.
 
“Century will work with local community artists and groups, schools and the performing arts sector to operate the facility as more than just a hall for hire.  Part of our roll will be that of a producer, guiding the venue to develop its own product.  This could result in the creation of Sydney Fringe Festival or Sydney Comedy Festival hubs for The Concourse,” he said. 

Century Venues experience also includes the development of the Newtown Entertainment Precinct in conjunction with Sydney City and Marrickville Councils, the Sydney Fringe Festival and the instigation of the live music program for youth Access all Ages.

The Concourse Performing Arts Centre contains –

The Concert Hall – based on a traditional European design, creating an intimate space with the high ceiling maintaining a sense of grandeur.  Two levels of seating accommodate approximately 1,000 patrons – with 462 stalls, 424 balcony and 114 choir stalls.  Performers will enjoy an open concert platform and exceptional wing space, dressing rooms, storage and technical facilities.   Acoustically excellent, the Concert Hall provides a sensational atmosphere for a diverse range of performances, from classical music to chamber ensembles, jazz, world and pop music.

The Theatre – two tiers of seating accommodate approximately 500 patrons (361 stalls, 139 circle).  The Theatre also features a fly tower, orchestra pit, level loading dock access and numerous practical support spaces.  Attracting regular seasons of professional touring theatre companies, cultural workshops and amateur musical societies, the Theatre is a space where world-class performances and local community events come together.  With excellent sightlines and acoustics, the Theatre is perfect for corporate events, seminars, product launches and presentations.

The Studio 149sqm semi-sprung floor makes it ideal for community dance performances, workshops and rehearsals.  It can also be used as a recital room for small chamber groups or solo instrumental concerts, and for corporate conferences and presentations.  For formal events, the Studio can accommodate approximately 150 people.

The Civic Pavilion offers state-of-the-art features and flexibility, in a light-filled, vibrant space, the Civic Pavilion is perfect for corporate functions, exhibitions, weddings, celebrations and large community events.  This multi-functional venue features a flat 500sqm floor with a divisible wall, dressing rooms, and a full catering kitchen.  It can accommodate up to 500 patrons in theatre mode, 430 in banquet mode, or 300 in classroom mode.

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

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