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Victoria Theatre secures $4m restoration boost

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One of Newcastle’s iconic buildings is set to undergo a multi-million-dollar makeover, courtesy of the state government.

NSW Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin announced on Tuesday (12 July) that $4m would go towards the restoration of the historic Victoria Theatre.

The financial boost, from the Create NSW Creative Capital Fund, will enable further revitalisation, with the view to opening the bottom floor for use.

“The upgrade will transform the venue into a world-class cultural asset and ensure the 168-year-old theatre can be enjoyed for generations to come,” Mr Franklin said.

“This project will cement Newcastle as a top destination for the arts in NSW and provide new opportunities for audiences to enjoy dynamic creative experiences in top-notch cultural infrastructure.

“Performances are on track to return to the historic location within 12 months, bringing 170,000 visitors, artists and staff to the theatre in its first three years.

“This is an important cultural infrastructure project for Newcastle that will shape its future as a destination for arts and culture and enhance experiences for audiences and visitors alike.

“Cultural equity is at the heart of the NSW Government’s Creative Capital program and thanks a total $72m investment, more projects like this can now come to life, providing more people with access to the best arts and culture, no matter where they live in the state.”

Both Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes welcomed the windfall for the Perkins Street premises.

“This is great news,” the former said.

“The Victoria Theatre is NSW’s oldest surviving heritage theatre.

“Restoration works have been ongoing and I’m thrilled to support Century Venues with this endeavour.

“I’m even more delighted there is funding coming.

“The creative and performing arts sector is a key part of our vibrant city.”

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with Parliamentary Secretary for Hunter Taylor Martin and NSW Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin at the Victoria Theatre.

An excited Cr Nelmes echoed Mr Crakanthorp’s sentiments.

“It’s wonderful,” she said.

“Restoring the beautiful Victoria Theatre will truly cement Newcastle’s position as the cultural and creative heart of NSW.

“The current refurbishment is complementary to both City of Newcastle’s recent $5m investment into completely renewing the public domain along Perkins Street and the Hunter Street Mall, as well as our careful planning approach to the revitalisation of the East End, which has protected residential amenity and injected new life into a long dormant section of the city.

“Council, through the COVID-19 City Taskforce, identified the restoration of the Victoria Theatre as one of the key projects to assist our cultural, tourism and performing arts sectors to bounce back from the effects of the global pandemic.

“We’re home to the highest number of arts and recreation businesses per capita in NSW, with a long and proud history of strongly supporting creativity and cultural production.

“Independent analysis indicates that a refurbished Victoria Theatre has the potential to generate up to $50m of economic activity in Newcastle within only a few short years of operating.

“So, this is a very welcome investment into our creative industries and visitor economy that ultimately support thousands of local jobs.”

Cr Nelmes said revamping the Victoria Theatre had long been an important symbol of Newcastle’s maturity as a progressive and creative city.

“So, this is a fantastic day for Novocastrians,” she added.

“We look forward to working closely with the NSW Government and Century Venues to see this magnificent piece of our cultural heritage restored to its former glory.”

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