Canberra's professional theatre practitioners will have the city's first custom designed rehearsal space when The Street Theatre's new $3.18 million extension, a modern bright structure, is built.
The architects have released an artist's impression of the work which is due to start in May and will transform the building into a performing arts hub.
The building, designed by Collin Stewart Architects, is part of the ACT government's vision to develop three arts hubs in Canberra over the next 12 months. The others, recommended by the Loxton Review into the Arts, are a music hub at Ainslie Arts Centre and a visual arts hub at Kingston Cultural Precinct, where Megalo Print Studio and Gallery was scheduled to move into the abandoned Fitters Workshop adjacent to the Canberra Glassworks.
Arts Minister Joy Burch said the 2011-12 ACT budget had committed $3.18 million over two years for the overhaul, ''which the ACT government identified as vital due to the need for additional rehearsal space in what we hope will become a thriving performance arts hub''.
The extension will provide desperately needed accommodation for the theatre's administration which has been housed in a dingy demountable building.
The proposed design is a clean, modern building in a dark metal cladding with large windows providing natural sunlight.
The works include a custom designed rehearsal space, with a sprung floor for dance and movement rehearsal, and an internal ceiling height of seven metres to enable physical theatre.
The Street Theatre chief executive and artistic director Caroline Stacey said the work should be complete by March next year and would make a huge difference to how the company operated.
''The rehearsal space is fantastic because currently there is not a dedicated rehearsal space for professional artists in Canberra. It should make a difference to both creating and producing work,'' she said. The Loxton Review recommended that by collocating in hubs arts organisations could share administration and resources but there are no decisions about which other bodies could move to the new Street Theatre.
A spokesman for Ms Burch said artsACT was in discussion with various performing arts companies and independent artists and producers but no decisions had yet been made.
Jigsaw Theatre Company general manager Rohan Shearn said they were keeping their options open as their preference would be to move to the Canberra Theatre Centre where many of their youth theatre productions were staged. He said Jigsaw, which now works from offices in Civic, had been in discussions with The Street but was ''taking a wait and see approach at this stage but there is the potential for us being collocated at the Canberra Theatre Centre''.
Ms Stacey said the philosophical basis of an arts hub was more important than accommodating existing organisations. ''I am interested in looking at models that move beyond collocation. I think that's a very narrow imagining of possibilities. I think when we are looking at maximising resources we should also be looking at connecting artists and ideas.''
The extension will provide additional storage and office accommodation for up to eight people.