Griffith Regional Theatre Upgrades
Griffith Regional Theatre is currently undertaking significant works to renovate and revitalise public amenities and backstage areas, and to create additional performance space and public areas. The works include:
- Upgrading all existing public toilets
- Upgrading and remodelling all dressing rooms
- Construction of new accessible toilet facilities, and additional general public toilets.
- Expanding public space and diversity of performance areas by creating a new amphitheatre and outdoor area in the eastside courtyard.
- Installing a new lighting control desk to activate the full capacity of recently upgraded stage lighting
- Installation of acoustic panelling in the auditorium to improve sound quality, particularly for hearing impaired patrons
- Installation of new Air Conditioning System in Burley Griffin Room
Bit more info
The project is addressing urgent maintenance issues at the Theatre to bring it up to industry standards, to enhance the experience for theatre users and to increase accessibility for groups who are currently excluded or under-represented in Theatre audiences.
The full program of works consists of:
Upgrading existing public toilets on both floors to modernise them and improve visitor amenity, increase water efficiency, and promote accessibility by providing ambulant toilets in male and female public toilets, extending the first floor disabled toilet to make it fully compliant, and creating a parents room on the ground floor;
- Carrying out extensions on the western side of the building to house additional, compliant public toilets with ambulant stalls, and a purpose built fully compliant disabled access toilet;
- Upgrading the dressing rooms to revamp the bathrooms, increasing the number of toilets and vanities, constructing built in dressing tables, robe racks and storage, and installing kitchenettes for better performer amenity;
- Installing new air-conditioning in the Burley Griffin Room cabaret/meeting room;
- Enhancing the eastern courtyard to create a new amphitheatre and outdoor performance space;
- Installing a new lighting desk to current industry standards
- Installing acoustic panelling in the auditorium
The theatre has only received one major refurbishment in its 32 year history, new auditorium seating and carpeting throughout in 2015. Due to age, wear and tear, and increasing visitation, facilities at the venue are in need of an overhaul as they are deteriorating in condition, inadequate or no longer fit-for-purpose.
In particular our ‘disabled’ access toilets are not compliant with current standards, and are not accessible to many patrons with mobility issues. Increasing visitation means the number of public toilets is inadequate for patrons, resulting in long queues and delays.
The fit out of the dressing rooms was never completed and they are furnished in an ad-hoc manner with small desks and unfixed domestic robe racks rather than industry fittings. Their bathroom configurations are not optimum to support the high level of usage, particularly by large school and dance company groups.
Some of the Theatre’s technical features are outdated and below industry standards. There was no acoustic panelling in the auditorium, a standard fixture to reduce distortion and improve sound quality, particularly for hearing impaired patrons; and Council’s recent investment in state of the art stage lighting was underutilised due to an outdated lighting desk that lacked the capacity and number of channels now standard for lighting systems.
The layout of the Theatre provides very little public gathering or informal performing space, and adjoining outdoor areas that could support casual events and informal performances by local artists are undeveloped and unfit for purpose. Developing the courtyard areas will provide additional space for patrons as well as active space for small performances and events.
The project will benefit Council by providing much needed maintenance and enhancement of a major capital asset, as well as some savings in efficiency and opportunities for increased revenue. It will benefit touring national and international performers who will have access to high quality facilities that meet current industry standards. However, the major beneficiaries will be the people of Griffith and the Western Riverina who are the major users of both public amenities and back stage facilities, the audience who will benefit from improved technology, as well as the most frequent users of the Burley Griffin Room. Local groups will also benefit from expanded access and increased opportunities to participate in cultural activities. People with disabilities will have the same access to cultural facilities as the rest of the community; local artists will have new opportunities to gain income and/or experience; and young people, ATSI and culturally and linguistically diverse communities will benefit from increased activation of informal spaces.
Due for Completion in April 2020
Council undertakes a bi-annual community satisfaction survey to gauge the community’s satisfaction with various council services and facilities including the Griffith Regional Theatre and along with speaking directly to patrons and performers there is a strong desire to see these facilities upgraded. One in five respondents in the last survey identified the Theatre as the facility of Council that they most valued. The survey also identified that people want more facilities where young people can socialise and attend cultural events – outside pubs and clubs.
Council’s Youth Survey in 2015, which attracted over 1000 responses, identified that young people wanted more cultural events, and that current facilities needed upgrading to be more suitable for youth events.
In February 2017 Council ran a facilitated community workshop around ‘Place Creation’ and activation of public space. This process identified a need for more regular and more diverse outdoor community cultural activities and festivals. Neville Place was identified as a specific site for community activation and cultural events. This project will support realisation of this community aspiration by provision of on-site cultural infrastructure through access to Theatre facilities and creating a connection between indoor/formal and outdoor/informal cultural spaces.
In-house consultation and feedback
Patrons with disabilities, either in wheelchairs or otherwise restricted with their mobility, as well as mothers with prams have told us on many occasions over the years that the Accessibility toilets are not always accessible for them, due to the layout of the cubicle and the difficulty in manoeuvring in the small space.
We know from experience that on busy nights, there are not enough toilets to service the high number of patrons, with queues streaming into hallways and into the foyer.
Production companies have told our technical staff that they feel they are restricted with the types of performances they can stage here because of the limitations of the lighting system.
Both performers and patrons have commented on the sound quality in the Auditorium and that it could be improved upon. Our technical staff are also acutely aware of this and have researched acoustic panelling and desired it for some time.
Observation on busy nights informs us that the foyer space is inadequate and additional space for patrons to gather would be welcome.
Regular feedback from users of the Burley Griffin Room, which includes senior Council staff, indicates dissatisfaction with the current air conditioning in the room.