Canberra Theatre

Canberra Theatre Centre Director Alex Budd said their new normal was about being flexible and adaptable.

20 November 2020

Canberra Theatre Centre Director Alex Budd says welcoming shows and audiences back to the iconic Canberra venue has been momentous - both for him and for arts lovers more broadly.

“It's a loved venue in Canberra… it's also nice to hear that people miss it so much. I can't think of another relationship between a city and a venue like this.”

Due to the evolving nature of COVID-19 restrictions, Canberra Theatre Centre’s (CTC) new normal is about being flexible and adaptable.

The theatre shut its doors to the public in March and the CTC team began investigating how they could continue to operate via alternative methods.

In June the theatre introduced CTC@Home, a digital season of free performances streamed via Facebook, featuring local artists. The online program was a great success, receiving more than 100,000 viewers.

“It just adds these dimensions that haven't been explored,” Alex said.

Doors reopened to the public in August – the theatre using its facility to hold showings for the Canberra Writers Festival and the Canberra Youth Theatre as well as small music and comedy performances in the Link Bar.

The Canberra Youth Theatre used the Playhouse for their production called Normal - attracting their biggest audience to date.

“It's helped us connect more meaningfully to a number of local artists through some of the small stuff we've done. It's showed us that we can do really great things,” Alex said.

The Canberra Theatre Centre’s next big production is The Wharf Revue from 1 December, and for the first time in Canberra’s history the show will run for three weeks in the ACT to accommodate additional people, given the theatre is operating at 50 per cent capacity.

Excited to have productions running again Alex said that it will be so nice to see the “arts industry get back on its feet”.

To meet current COVID-19 restrictions, a one-seat gap between each group is enforced. Staff also study security footage to ensure the audience are abiding by COVID-19 guidelines during the intervals, as well as while entering and exiting the building.

Other precautions include electronic collection of contact tracing details for every ticket holder, hand sanitisation stations, increased cleaning of public spaces, and modifications to air-conditioning.

With ticket sales soaring, Alex said the theatre had nearly sold out all their upcoming shows.

“That's really one of our key things for measuring response. If audiences know we're putting in place all of these safety measures to keep them safe when they're here, I think when they accept that coming back to the theatre is safe is when they buy a ticket. And we're seeing so much of that,” he said.

“There's been no regression, everything's been a step forward which has been good.”

To see what’s on at the Canberra Theatre Centre, visit canberratheatrecentre.com.au.

All Canberra

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