Page 2856 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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Gallery and historic places Lanyon, Calthorpes’ House and Mugga Mugga. Under the corporation’s management, the Canberra Theatre Centre has continued its proud tradition of presenting high quality performing arts and of serving the Canberra community.

In February 2003, the Canberra Theatre Centre worked with Circus Oz in presenting a big top production on the lakeside arena. The opening night of Circus Oz paid tribute to the victims and heroes of the Canberra bushfires, with over 1,000 tickets being donated to locally nominated heroes, emergency services personnel and people who were severely impacted upon by the effect of the bushfires.

Throughout its history, the stages of the Canberra Theatre Centre have not only played host to many international and national touring companies but also provided a strong focal point for local performing arts organisations. AusDance ACT has been a long-term presenter of the annual dance festival, as well as eisteddfod competitions, and many local theatre companies have trodden the boards of the Canberra Theatre Centre. These include companies and organisations such as Free Rain, Canberra Rep and the Australian Choreographic Centre with their Quantum Leap at the Playhouse production.

Those of us who have attended the Canberra and area theatre awards, known affectionately as the CAT awards, know that the Canberra Theatre Centre plays an important local and regional role as well, a role that demonstrates that Canberra is more than the seat of federal government and the home of national institutions.

Today, the Canberra Theatre Centre continues to provide a full and balanced program of performing arts activity. To ensure that it is accessible to all members of the Canberra community, in recent years the centre has focused on improving access for its audiences. This has included the introduction of audio description for vision-impaired patrons and the introduction of live theatre captioning, as well as the use of Auslan for subscription season productions, an Australian first. These new programs have built on and extended the centre’s strong connection to its local community.

In 2005, a new era is starting with the construction of the Civic library and link. This project will bring greatly improved facilities and services to theatre patrons, including much improved access for people with disabilities. It will also provide many opportunities for the centre to work with the ACT Library Service, for example, by linking children’s theatre productions to book reading activities. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ACT government’s commitment to lifelong learning and cultural facilities.

The government has committed over $1 million to an extensive public art program. Perhaps most relevant to those whom I directly represent in this place, the Stanhope government has made a strong financial commitment to the arts community in Ginninderra by allocating over $500,000 to the planning stage of the Belconnen arts centre. This centre will build on the strength of the facilities provided in other areas of Canberra and will provide the residents of Ginninderra with a quality facility for their artistic and cultural expression.

The ACT government is committed to providing Canberrans with cultural outlets for their skills and interests. The Canberra Theatre has provided such an outlet for 40 years, and it is envisaged by the ACT government that the Belconnen arts centre will emulate

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