MR ENTSCH: I rise tonight to talk about a much-loved community asset in my electorate, the Rondo Theatre.
Founded in 1953, the Cairns Little Theatre is a community driven, incorporated amateur theatrical company, whose charter is to choose, produce and stage the works of the finest Australian and international playwrights in a professional manner for the training, benefit and appreciation of its members at all levels, of students and of the theatre-going public.
From its foundation, the Cairns Little Theatre continuously presented an annual program of plays in community halls in the Hartley Street Theatre and in the Cairns Civic Theatre, until the Rondo Theatre was commissioned in 1983.
A season of plays at the Rondo has become established as a regular feature of the theatre calendar in Far North Queensland.
However, the theatre urgently requires major upgrades to bring the theatre’s lighting and audio systems up to 21st century standards and to address the safety concerns due ageing electrical infrastructure.
The first stage of the project has already been funded through the Cairns Regional Council Arts and Cultural Infrastructure Program, which provided $50,000 towards the purchase of equipment and the truss framework.
They already have this equipment and are ready to work on the installation of electrical renovation, including revamped surround sound and modern LED lights to replace the old halogen fixtures.
During the winter recess, I met with the Cairns Little Theatre president, Kevin Shorey, who showed me the extent of the works required.
To protect all of this good electoral work, they must also complete work on the building itself, after technicians found that there were ceiling and related structural issues that must be addressed immediately.
The works are extensive. Initially, they were looking at a cost of around $187,000 to complete the works, but I would suggest that that figure is now around the $200,000 mark in order to fix the water damage in the ceiling so as to make sure it doesn’t impact on the new electrical systems that they need to install.
I have promised Mr Shorey that I will be banging on each and every door this week in Canberra to see if I can secure this funding for them.
I know my colleagues here will be cowering at the thought of me banging on their doors, but this theatre means so much to my community and cannot be allowed to slide into disrepair.
Cairns is the home of some of the nation’s most thriving arts communities, and the Rondo Theatre is an absolutely integral part of that.
In fact, as of June 2017, there were 819 businesses within the cultural and creative industries in my electorate of Leichhardt.
Furthermore, some 2,191 people are employed across cultural and creative occupations in my electorate.
So, as you can see, Mr Speaker, the arts community is a very significant part of our economy.
The Rondo is part of the amateur theatres that we have there, but we also have coming online very shortly the new Cairns Theatre—a magnificent structure.
The federal government has contributed some $10 million to it, and we will see it finished towards the end of this year.
We have a beautiful auditorium at Munro Martin Parklands, and we also have JUTE, which is another smaller theatre.
I will be attending the opening of another magnificent theatre at St Andrew’s College very shortly.
The combination of what we have in our region gives people choice.
We have the Rondo, where people can basically sit right around the stage; they encircle the stage.
It holds about 150 people. We will have magnificent works at the Cairns regional centre, when it opens.
It will hold about 1,600 to 1,700 people.
Then we have the Botanical Gardens, which holds about 2,000 people. So we really cover it all.
Mr Speaker, I’m determined to ensure that the Rondo Theatre doesn’t fall by the wayside, and hopefully, with a little help from the federal government, it can continue to provide fantastic productions to Cairns residents and visitors for generations to come.
And I look forward, possibly, at some stage, to getting you up there and inviting you to come along to enjoy some of the cultural finesse of the magnificent Far North Queensland.
Thank you very much.