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Wollongong City Council

Curtain’s up at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

Monday 5 June 2023

The shows can, once again, go on at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.

The venue has enjoyed a major refurbishment over the past five-and-a-half months with a complete re-sheeting and refurbishment of the building’s 35-year-old roof, the installation of improved heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, accessibility upgrades to the amenities, new  lighting, and changes to the foyer including the servery areas.

Within the IMB and Bruce Gordon Theatres there is new carpet, seats and changes to the spaces’ accessibility, as well as major improvements to smoke management and fire safety measures.

“While people are likely to see the cosmetic differences that this refurbishment project has delivered, there has been a lot of “unseen” work going on as part of this project,’’ Wollongong City Acting Lord Mayor Councillor Tania Brown said.

“It’s important one of our city’s premiere theatre and performance spaces continues to meet the needs and expectations of our community. I’m really pleased to see this work completed within the timeframe promised and to see the curtain rise once again.’’

Wollongong City Council General Manger Greg Doyle said it was essential the theatre’s accessibility was improved to ensure access to everyone.

“A lot has changed in terms of our expectations around accessibility since the 1980s,’’ he said.

“Going to the theatre or seeing live performances is not exclusive to age group or section of our community. This space has a diversity of uses and this means the theatres and the buildings need to cater to everyone.

“As part of this project we’ve been able to install a new hearing loop system to the box office, IMB and Bruce Gordon Theatres, improve the accessibility of the amenities that service both theatres and make it easier for people with disability or who are less mobile to move about the theatres.”

Merrigong General Manager and acting CEO Rachel Francis said it was exciting to reopen the theatre’s doors and flick the switch on the stage lights.

“We’re very fortunate, here in Wollongong, that Council supports and values the arts and its importance in building strong communities,’’ she said.

“This was an essential, multi-faceted project that has created a more welcoming, modernised, and accessible venue for all of our visitors. Arts and culture are vital to human connection and this refurbishment certainly provides more opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to come into our venues and share in the fun – to hear the stories of others, and to tell their own. We are very excited about opening our doors to our community again!”

This project is funded by Wollongong City Council and the NSW Government through Resources for Regions – Round 9.

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