From edifice to ecology: how performing arts centres continue to evolve

Australia's performing arts centres are increasingly focused on sector development and supporting the country's independent artists and the small to medium sector.

Stephanie Lake’s Colossus (2018) was created with support from the Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Fringe initiative, Take Over! Photo credit: Mark Gambino.

While cultural precincts are far from new (London’s West End theatre district was established in the early 1800s) the contemporary concept of the performing arts centre  – a cluster of performance venues such as a concert hall, proscenium arch theatre and studio space, built in close proximity to one another or under the one roof, and home to a range of resident companies – are a more recent phenomenon.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts