Take a knee ladies and gentlemen, Brisbane’s iconic Princess Theatre is up for sale.
Built in 1888, and located in the heart of Woolloongabba, the Princess Theatre (originally named the South Brisbane Public Hall) has had a rich and varied history. From presenting some of the best theatre in Brisbane, to hosting black and white pictures, to being home for a variety of small businesses the Princess has certainly seen it all.
Current owners, Lifecity Church, have used the Princess for everything from a wedding venue to church events. It has hosted trivia nights, school productions, opera, full scale musicals and perhaps most recently was the venue of Lynch and Paterson’s jaw dropping revival of Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’.
Church Director, Frances Koops, has indicated that she would like to see the venue be bought by someone who will keep it open and accessible to the community.
“The theatre is such a valuable piece of history, with so many drawn in by its Old World charm and beauty,. We are looking forward to seeing it sold to someone who can lovingly restore and rejuvenate it, so it can be brought back to life and continue to be used as a space for the community for events.”
While it is true that there are parts of the venue that need a little touch of TLC, the venue has undergone some recent refurbishments, including the painting of the theatre and the proscenium arch that frames the main stage, new carpet, polished floors, new lighting, and perhaps most importantly in an ever warming Brisbane climate – air conditioning. The area is also rich with amenities including nearby parking, bars and restaurants, and a hotel next door for those wanting to stay a little longer.
It remains to be seen who will grab the coveted venue, interest from the arts sector is high, with proposals already being floated for a community buy in to be established which would allow personal investors and commercial investors to become joint shareholders. Potentially making the idea of a community owned and run space in the heart of one of Australia’s fastest growing capital cities more than just a pipe dream.
With the impending closure of the Schonell at UQ, and the Garden’s Point Theatre at QUT, and the recent rehousing of Metro Arts – venues of this size in Brisbane are about to become a rarity. Which prompts the question, have we now reached the point that the protection of our performance venues needs to land on the shoulders of the community at large?
One thing is for sure, the entire industry will be watching what our Princess does next. Fingers crossed that Brisbane’s arts sector stays just as royal as can be.