A leading architectural consortium has been selected to design Canberra's theatre redevelopment project which Chief Minister Andrew Barr said would deliver a precinct in use hundreds of nights each year.
Architectus, Danish architects Henning Larsen and theatre designers Arup will lead the work to design the new 2000-seat theatre.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the firms had demonstrated they had the best plans for the new theatre centre.
"These venues - new and refurbished - will be highly utilised by local, national and international performers. There will be hundreds of nights of performance each year," Mr Barr said.
"This will boost our hospitality and tourism industries year round, during the week and on weekends. This forms another important part of our civic and cultural district."
Mr Barr said the indicative designs, described as modern and brutalist, reflected Canberra's architectural history and would meet the needs of a growing city.
The project will require public investment worth several hundred million dollars and the ACT would approach the Commonwealth for funding but that was not necessary for the project to go ahead, he said.
"We are hopeful that the design work, which will be thorough and brilliant, will also be expedited in a way that enables the government to make investment decisions in the next budget round in '24 or '25," the Chief Minister said.
Mr Barr made the announcement on stage of the ageing Canberra Theatre, surrounded by the set of a touring production of The Mousetrap, the long-running Agatha Christie murder mystery.
The Mousetrap director and well-known Australian actor Robyn Nevin said: "The announcement that is happening today is very exciting because it does impact on the national health of theatre and performing arts. And when politicians give to the arts, it's a great day for the nation."
The theatre signalled a new beginning in Canberra that suggested the capital as a place that would create new work coming from the heart of the country to be shared with the rest of Australia and the world, Nevin said.
"That's pretty exciting. It's never happened before," she said.
Arts Minister Tara Cheyne said the firms understood the territory government's vision for the precinct.
"What this announcement today will help deliver is more opportunities for our local performing arts sector: more opportunities to create, more opportunities to produce, more opportunities to rehearse and, of course, to perform," Ms Cheyne said.
Architectus principal Dr Stephen Long said for many of the people involved in the consortium, the theatre would be a career highlight.
"We're also pleased to announce that Architectus intends to establish a project studio here in Canberra to support design collaboration and design workshops. And in time, this may provide a new employment pathway for local designers," Dr Long said.
Henning Larsen were lead designers on the Harpa Concert Hall Reykjavik and the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen. Architectus led work on the redevelopment of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. Arup completed theatre design work on the Harpa Concert Hall.
MORE A.C.T. POLITICS NEWS:
Mr Barr said the revamped theatre precinct would enable the ACT to attract larger productions which had until now not been accommodated in the capital's smaller venues.
Canberra Theatre Centre director Alex Budd said the selection of a design consortium marked a significant step for the national performing arts landscape and for the culture and economy of Canberra.
"Working with these prestigious firms enables us to become a performing arts centre of national significance. Enabling Canberra to grow as a leader in the national cultural conversation, an expanded and reimagined Canberra Theatre Centre will be a destination for performance, ceremony and engagement across all performing art forms, cultures and generations, reflecting 60,000 years of storytelling," Mr Budd said.
The ACT budget last year included $28.44 million for design and consultation work for the Canberra Theatre Centre and Civic Square upgrades.
The existing Canberra Theatre and Playhouse will be retained as part of the project. The Canberra Theatre will be overhauled to allow a flat-floor set up for music events.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.