I am enthralled to share this letter written by Executive Director of Century Venues, Greg Khoury, which was submitted to Mid-Western Regional Council in opposition to the proposed DA for the Mudgee Regent Theatre to be converted into a hotel.
The special part about this campaign is that is has drawn interest from many people, in a variety of places, all over the world. Our Regent Theatre is not 'just an empty old building' and, luckily, Australia does have cultural operators who see the value of these spaces. One example is Newcastle's Victoria Theatre, which was closed for much longer than The Regent before being purchased in 2015 by Century Venues.
"We are the owners and operators of six performance spaces and complexes including: the historic Enmore Theatre 1912, Metro and Factory Theatres, the Comedy Store, the Manning Centre University of Sydney and The Concourse Performing Arts Centre Chatswood (the second largest in NSW after the Sydney Opera House). In 2015 we purchased the historic Victoria Theatre in Newcastle, the oldest theatre in NSW and one of the country’s most significant historic theatre buildings. From the 1980’s we have been instrumental in the industry-led campaigns to save the Regent and Capitol Theatres in Sydney and ourselves took charge of the Enmore as a derelict theatre building in 1986 which today is the most successful and busiest heritage theatre building in NSW.
Reinvigorated heritage theatre buildings have been well proven, time and again here and overseas, to be catalysts for urban renewal and their operation has an extraordinary economic multiplier effect to their local economies, in addition to the very real cultural, social and architectural benefits they provide. In a recently updated Economic Impact Study conducted by the University of Technology, the Enmore Theatre resulted in an economic impact over and above theatre ticket sales, of $38 million in 2016 of additional elective spending to the Newtown Precinct alone.
Mudgee is blessed by having an intact heritage theatre building with a sizable stage and fly tower for live presentation of all genres and cinema capacity. The building is sound and in good order. People however are a key to making these buildings work and benefiting the entire community."
Revive The Regent has been a campaign that has drawn attention back to our glorious Art Deco theatre and even helped us rewrite history, with local historian Mr John Broadley discovering the true architect to be George Newtown Kenworthy. In case you didn't know this, Kenworthy is a notable architect who designed a range of theatres in NSW, which means our theatre is of state significance.
Some architectural briefs of George Newton Kenworthy:
1929 State Theatre, Sydney: as managing partner of firm of Henry White
Late 1920s/early 1930s Extensions and modifications to the Paragon Café at Katoomba
1934 State Theatre, Sydney: ballroom, milk bar and coffee lounge
Ca 1934 Parthenon, Robertson Road, Centennial Park: inter-war mansion
1935 Cremorne Orpheum
1935 Regent Theatre, Mudgee
1936 Ritz Theatre, Port Macquarie
1937 Savoy Theatre, Hurstville (demolished)
Ca 1938 Royal Hotel, Orange
1938 Hoyt’s Savoy Theatre, Enfield, Sydney: extensive remodelling
Late 1930s Art deco house at 12 Cliff Drive, Echo Point, Katoomba for owners of the Paragon
Café at Katoomba. Sorenson garden
Ca 1940 Civic Theatre, Bankstown: extensive remodelling (demolished)
All of sudden, Mudgee's little theatre doesn't seem so small anymore and Revive The Regent wants to make sure people know what they would be losing, if developers get to demolish the auditorium, with all of the history that has been part of Mudgee's social and cultural lifestyle. It's not just about the small town's little empty theatre, it's about the social values of a small town and keeping them.
See the full letter from Century Venues Executive Director here.