To the members of the CentreStage and Greater Geelong community.
It's a sad day for Geelong's vibrant performing arts scene. Geelong has established itself as a thriving, clever and creative live theatre destination that draws international and local artists. On March 13, when Covid-19 restriction were introduced, CentreStage was days away from staging the most extravagant musical in the past 10 years. It could be two years before we see another live performance at the Geelong Arts Centre.
We acknowledge that our our families and friends have been balancing life and struggled during isolation with lack of live performances. It has been hard. There is no other word for it. The support that has poured out in the form of phone calls, shoulders to cry on and emails has been over-whelming. As a community organisation, we really appreciate it.
Staging a musical such as West Side Story, is a mammoth undertaking. It has included over 40 cast members, 30 orchestra members, and over 200 volunteers. Over the past 12 hours, the CentreStage team has been working hand in hand with Geelong Arts Centre and Deakin University to develop alternative options relating to 'safe' live theatre.
With the unfortunate news delivered today, The Geelong Arts Centre has announced the closure of the Playhouse and Drama theatre stages. Whilst CentreStage wholly supports the decision made by the Trust and G.A.C management team, this inevitability cuts live theatre at the knees within the Geelong region.
The planned closures will allow the Geelong Arts Centre to potentially bring forward planned building works which could see the closure of the typical performing spaces (Large stages) for upto 24 months. The team at Geelong Arts Centre (highlighting the work of Angelique Helman) have been in daily contact with CentreStage since the pandemic was announced and identifying the potential solutions.
CentreStage continues to support the Geelong Arts Centre through their change management process as members of the G.A.C Creative Engine and client of their rehearsal studios (which could be used to stage intimate productions)
The news delivered today affects more than 50 local organisations and 100's of national artists that will be forced to cancel their dance concerts, school productions and cabarets planned at this venue.
Over the past 3 months, CentreStage has been extremely vocal reaching out to local MP's, Councillors and Mayors to discuss the lack of alternative venues within Geelong region. The Arts has been forgotten, and so have the dozens of voicemails and emails directed to the City of Greater Geelong. "We hope this inspires the change in culture in Geelong region to rank the Arts higher in our city's priorities". - David Greenwood
"CentreStage pledges to build a new multi-purpose theatre during this 'arts shortage' for the whole of the Geelong community to use and keep the arts alive. "
WEST SIDE STORY will return to the Geelong audience. With almost $200,000 contributed to the expenses of a community production, we look forward to announcing future dates alongside the participating venue. We want Geelong to remember the importance of arts and what it means to the fabric of Geelong.
Once again, I hope we can be sensitive to each other’s burdens in this situation and make accommodations to support one another where we can. We continue to encourage our network to actively engage with the Arts Wellbeing Collective (a complimentary service) and Beyond Blue for assistance whilst navigating this difficult situation.
To view the Geelong Arts Centre press release, click here
We thank you for understanding during this tough time and encourage you to not give up on the arts. Love theatre, be creative and support those most vulnerable around us.