Wollongong Council will be meeting on Monday 30/5/16 and one of the agenda items will be to determine the fate of the Phoenix Theatre in Coniston. The future of the theatre has been uncertain ever since the community radio station VOXFM sold the site back to Wollongong Council for $1 a number of years ago.
Monday's vote will determine if the Phoenix Theatre can continue to support local performing artists, or if it will close at the end of July.
I've written to all the Wollongong City Councillors asking that they consider casting their votes to preserve a vibrant and important part of Wollongong's cultural life. Now I'm asking all Wollongong theatre lovers to add their voices to save the Phoenix.
The Phoenix Theatre has taken a run-down, under-utilised site and transformed it - largely by dint of volunteer labour - into an important community resource. The community centre is used by a large variety of groups, as is the theatre. It isn't just the Phoenix Theatre Company that benefits from having a stable venue to call home. The space is rarely dark - with dance schools, other theatrical companies, student groups, individual performers, musical groups etc regularly hiring out the space for both rehearsals and performances. The loss of a community minded performance space at reasonable hiring costs would have a direct impact on all these groups and the communities they serve.
Over the past decade, the Phoenix Theatre has demonstrated its ability to mount successful, high quality shows, show casing emerging local talent and original material written by local playwrights and composers. It is able to do this because its low overheads allow it to take risks other companies can't afford to do. As a result, the offerings provided by the Phoenix Theatre are able to appeal to a wide range of audience members - from those who love musicals, and well-known plays, to those who appreciate more experimental, fringe and 'avant garde' theatrical experiences. Indeed, I regularly travel down from Sydney in order to see quality, interesting theatre at reasonable prices at the Phoenix Theatre. The Sydney friends I have introduced to the Phoenix are also becoming keen supporters of this little theatre in Coniston and regularly praise the high standard of performers and performances they see there.
It would be such a shame to lose this energetic, inclusive, demonstrably viable (both financially and creatively) and valued community asset!
Please, vote to save the Phoenix Theatre!
Avid Theatre Lover