The ANU has accepted there is more to be done to secure access to performance space during the Union Court redevelopment and apologised for a lack of communication about the plans, while giving the go-ahead for bookings in alternative theatre spaces.
In a meeting late last month with the ANUSA President, James Connolly, the ANUSA Social Officer, Cameron Allan, and theatre campaigner Kat Carrington, the Union Court redevelopment project manger, Robert Hitchcock, apologised for poor communication.
The Executive Director (Administration and Planning), Chris Grange, was also present at the meeting.
Hitchcock conceded that there wasn’t enough available space in Theatre 3 to cater for the theatre groups on campus, who have been scrambling in recent weeks to secure performance space after the demolition of the Arts Centre.
Grange had previously said in an email, seen by Woroni, that his ‘understanding is that we achieved enough additional theatre time with the Rep [Theatre 3] to provide the alternatives we need. This means we would not book time at other theatres, and in any case, the Gorman Arts Centre is a bit far away to be considered a good option.’
However, following meetings with campus theatre representatives, the ANU now understands the need to secure more theatre space during the redevelopment period.
A deal could still be reached with the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) to secure space there. But despite the building being on campus, the space is unsuited to productions which involve sets.
Interest in a deal with the NFSA came after it was found no time was available at School of Music venues.
The ANU is currently looking into the possibility of housing student productions at the Street Theatre next year during the redevelopment process.
Kat Carrington told Woroni that the outcome of the meeting ‘bodes well’ for theatre groups on campus.
A number of campus theatre groups have already made alternative arrangements for their shows this year, including securing space off campus.
Jonathan Peake, the director of the 2017 Med Revue, told Woroni last month that the disruption caused by the planned demolition of the Arts Centre have been a ‘huge pain in the arse’.
The Med Revue will be performed at Canberra Grammar School, in a move which adds around $4000 in costs to the production, which donates its profit to charity.
The redeveloped Union Court precinct will feature an outdoor amphitheatre with a seated capacity of 300, a 200-seat theatre and an events facility with a capacity of 1000 non-seated patrons.