Stage set for Marian Street upgrade

Jessica Blaxland Ashby performing in Beauty and the Beast at Marian Street in 2002
Jessica Blaxland Ashby performing in Beauty and the Beast at Marian Street in 2002

The iconic venue Marian Street Theatre in Killara is to reopen as a state of the art $9.8million cultural centre with three performances spaces, cafe and art gallery.

The theatre, which has sat idle since 2013, has been saved by a persistent and passionate group of community members after a two year battle and many feasibility studies by Ku-ring-gai Council.

The revamp is expected to be ready by 2021.

The latest business report was agreed, and the $9.8 million needed for the build was ring-fenced at a Ku-ring-gai Council meeting earlier this month, before a packed public gallery.

Jessica Blaxland Ashby, the third generation of Blaxland family associated with the theatre and now its Business Manager, said: “It guarantees a home for Marian Street Theatre for Young People – a modern theatre needs youth outreach and youth theatre is an integral part of the daily operations of any theatre though it’s not the case for many other theatres.”

Other features in the plan include a Creative Learning Centre to introduce young people to the performing arts, a theatrical rigging system, new studios, more rehearsal space and an additional lift for car park access.

A Ku-ring-gai Council spokesperson added: “With community input we will now develop a detailed design and operating model for the theatre.

“The upgrade proposed by the Save the Marian Street Theatre Committee would cost nearly $10 million and the Council will need to investigate appropriate funding sources.”

The next step is for Council to set up a Project Steering Committee to set the Business Plan and design and building process in motion.

The fight to save Australia’s longest continuously run children’s theatre was backed by actors Hugo Weaving and Miriam Margolyes.

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