The Palais Theatre

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It’s official: the Palais Theatre is the best theatre in Australia for ticket sales. According to Pollstar Magazine, a prestigious publication for those working in the live music industry, this much loved theatre came in at number 36 in the top 100 of the most successful live music venues in the world, and the most successful in this country.

Joel Cohen sat down with the CEO of this revered cultural institution, Neil Croker, to talk about the theatre’s success.

The Palais Theatre has been added to a prestigious list of theatres. Is that right?

We are very, very pleased, honored and proud. Pollstar, which is the trade journal for the entertainment industry, an American publication, publishes tables every six months, one of which is the top 100 theatre venues in the world for concert ticket sales. Last year was the first time we made that table and we have again for the first six months of this year. Palais Theatre has come in around the 30 mark in both surveys, and that is a table that is headed by Radio City Music Hall in New York, for example. And we are the top rated Australian theatre for concert ticket sales.


And the Princes Theatre in Melbourne is at number 57. Does this show how strong our arts and culture scene is here in Melbourne?

Definitely does. It is one of those things that always amaze me. I travel to America each year to see agents and managers to make sure acts keep coming to the Palais – and you arrive in LA and look at the gig guide and it is half the size of the gig guide in Melbourne. We have a thriving music scene here, and people love to come and see bands perform, and we are seeing that at the Palais.


It seems that other traders, such as restaurants and cafés benefit as well. If, for example, someone goes to a show at the Palais, it’s very likely that they would also have dinner or a drink nearby.

Definitely, and we have worked hard with local traders to ensure they get the benefits of the shows we have at the Palais. We list local restaurants and accommodation providers on our website. We direct people to those venues. The Palais now has a quarter of a million people come to the theatre each year, and a very high percentage of those will spend more time in St Kilda than just the concert.


Ticket sales are strong. How do you see the future for the Palais, especially in the context of the recently announced new Triangle vision?

NC: The Palais is a listed building. It is a treasure. I don’t think there is anyone who does not love the Palais. So it is important that the Palais continues to flourish and grow, that it has money found for its long term investment. The Triangle Vision statement certainly sees the Palais as part of the Triangle in the long term. It is very important for the Palais that there are still some car parking sites on the Triangle somewhere because we need our patrons to be able to stay close to the theatre. A long term funding model needs to be found for the Palais.


You have recently hosted the Sacred Heart of St Kilda Concert, which I attended. There was a good showing. When there are a lot of local people, is there a different vibe than usual?

Very much so. With Heart of St Kilda Concert, and the St Kilda Film Festival, the biggest problem we have is getting people into the theatre and out of the theatre, because they are just so busy catching up and chatting in the foyer that we seem to start late and finish late. And most of our shows have a high content of local people. I think if you live in the St Kilda area, you have chosen to live here because you like the vibe, you like the live music scene, so it’s logical you are going to come to the Palais quite a bit.

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