After half a year out of commission, Melbourne’s iconic venue the Palais Theatre is finally set to be reopened, following months of repairs to the classic St Kilda landmark.
Following over $20 million in repairs and upgrades – covering everything from cosmetic touches to the exterior and signwork, to vital upgrades to the lighting and sound systems – the beloved venue is ready to emerge from its long hibernation this week in time to host the St Kilda Film Festival, The Music reports.
The venue was closed down soon after its 2016 acquisition by touring company Live Nation Australia, which took over from longtime operator Neil Croker last year – securing a 30-year lease in the process. In his nine years operating the venue, Croker had taken the Palais from 25 shows a year to 110, an increase in ticket sales from 30,000 a year to around 250,000, but was reportedly outbid when it came time to renew the lease.
“Both as a major presenter of live events and as a Melbourne-based and staffed music business firm, we are very aware of how important the venue is to the St Kilda community and to the people of Melbourne in general, and what a very special performance space it is,” Live Nation said at the time.
“To have been granted stewardship of this iconic venue carries a great responsibility, and we will seek to restore the Palais to its former glories, to better adapt it to the changing requirements of live performances, and to operate it for the benefit of all stakeholders, hirers, staff and patrons.”
Now, with the help of a $13.4m injection from the Victorian Government and a further $7.5m contribution from the local Port Phillip Council, the venue has been well and truly brought up to speed, with Live Nation CEO Michael Coppell and Mayor Bernadine Voss expressing their gratitude.
“We are intent on reinstating this iconic venue to its former glories,” Coppel said, “to better adapt it to the changing requirements of live performances, and to operate it for the benefit of all stakeholders, hirers, staff and patrons.
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“We look forward with great enthusiasm to successfully navigating the opportunities that lie ahead.”
“After facing closure when requiring critical repairs, the Palais has been well and truly saved for generations to enjoy,” Mayor Voss added “We are excited that Council’s film festival is the first of many fantastic events to be enjoyed at this rejuvenated St Kilda landmark.
“We thank the Palais management for having the theatre ready for the festival opening in the midst of the second stage of works.”
While the venue has been reopened, works are set to continue until September, with increased access for those with impaired mobility, along with further restoration of the distinctive domed ceiling and glass balcony.
Despite those finishing touches remaining incomplete, we’re just happy to see the venue back in action for what is hopefully a very successful 30 years.