George Cinema reopens as art and music venue

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By Justyna Piechutowska

 

With so many venues closing down around Melbourne, such as The Palace in the city and recently the well-known Pure Pop Records on Barkly St, and with many more fighting just to survive, it is ‘music’ to our ears to hear that the old George Cinema is going to be redeveloped into a multi-purpose ‘Arts Hub’ in St Kilda.

For too long the old cinema’s popularity has been on decline, despite being in such a prominent part of Fitzroy Street. Now Aleksander Vass, a successful entrepreneur with his long history of production and investment in Australian theatre and film wants to turn the three cinemas into two live venues; one seating 500 people and the second one seating 250.

“I am excited to be able to develop a new ‘Arts Hub’ in St Kilda. I am determined to provide a place where high quality works can be staged, in a supportive, welcoming environment.”

Along with the General Manager for the new complex, Richard Fitzgerald, who is responsible for reviving the Arts Centre in Darwin, and bringing such acts to Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne as Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia and Mary Poppins, Mr Vass has the right tools to make the new venue a success.

“Our programming approach will be to be a local hub for the arts, supporting local work but at the same time attract productions and audiences from far and wide to bring an array of shows to the area. We want to play our part in boosting the local economy. Successful venues are good news for surrounding business, providing a boost to restaurants, accommodation, tourism, taxis, public transport the list goes on…” Mr Fitzgerald said.

The new venues will be focussing predominantly on live performance, such as: plays, musical theatre, stand-up comedy, dance, concerts and cabaret. The venues will retain its cinema screens, so it will be possible to screen films as well, making it a versatile venue.

The project has full support of Deputy Mayor Serge Thomann who is very enthusiastic about, “With it, we hope the Arts will be brought back to St Kilda, which is well-known for its music scene as well as its artistic community.”

It is truly a great development and a win for the community to have such a versatile new performance space at its disposition, which will be able to support new and local artists as well as welcome international ones and bring back the arty vibe to Fitzroy Street and with it attract audiences from all over.

As Mr Fitzgerald said: “…we want to be able to provide entertaining, professional work, with broad appeal at affordable prices.”
For enquiries about venue bookings or mailing lists please contact Richard Fitzgerald at rfitzy2@bigpond.com.

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