The redevelopment of the Adelaide Festival precinct will take place over the next five years.

The South Australian Government has today announced a $90 million investment to redevelop the Adelaide Festival Centre. This will be the most significant infrastructure work undertaken at the State’s largest arts venue since it opened in 1973. The major upgrade to the Centre is part of a $180 million infrastructure renewal project of the Festival Plaza area of the city, which will include an increase in restaurants, cafes, shops, underground parking and office buildings.

The Festival Centre refurbishment will address some of the long-standing issues with the building’s design, including improving views of the centre’s riverbank location, and increasing the number of access points, as well upgrades to the building’s exterior to improve its appearance and deal with unsightly water-damage. There will also be major improvements to the venue’s foyers, upgrades to the internal technical facilities including new sound, lighting and stage equipment, and the introduction of an interactive “children’s arts play area” to encourage families to visit the Centre. The Festival Centre redevelopment will also see the decommissioning of some of its existing facilities, such as the amphitheatre, which will be demolished, and the removal of the Hajek sculptural installation, which currently occupies the existing plaza.

The Hajek sculptures in the existing plaza will be decommissioned.

Building works are expected to commence later this year, with the upgrades to the Festival Centre completed within two to three years. The Festival Plaza redevelopment has a projected completion date of 2020. The impact of construction on the operations at the Festival Centre will be “carefully managed” to minimise the disruption to the venue’s activities. The SA Government estimates that by the project’s completion, the Festival Plaza precinct of the city will attract 15.6 million visitors annually.

The significant injection of funds into arts-related capital projects mirrors the recent announcement by Michael Baird’s NSW Government of an investment of $600 million to make the Sydney Opera House and Walsh Bay area of Sydney into the primary arts hub for the Asia-Pacific region. The planned redevelopments include $202 million earmarked for substantial improvements to the Sydney Opera House, including upgrades to the Concert Hall’s acoustics and stage equipment. Conspicuously however, no investment was committed to any refurbishment of the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the Sydney home of Opera Australia and Australian Ballet, which has historically been criticised for its small stage, poorly designed orchestra pit, and inferior acoustics.

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