According to The Australian, Opera Australia is likely to bump Opera Queensland from its regular Lyric Theatre spot next year. Chris Mangin, the Opera Queensland boss, is quoted as saying: "What we would dearly love is another 1500 to 1600-seat theatre."
How about a restored Regent?
A Courier-Mail article quoting ISPT boss Daryl Browning appears to confirm our worst fears: that the Regent back end will be demolished soon despite the fact that there is no demand for the office tower that will (one day) replace it. And he's already setting up an excuse not to build the theatre spaces promised for the new tower. Of course, everybody knows there is no commercial demand for just three matchbook-sized "theatres" that lack proper cinema technology. However, there is a demonstrated need for a large multipurpose venue, that could be built using original Regent materials.
Here's the relevant section of the C-M article:
The timing of ISPT's redevelopment of the $700 million Regent Theatre and the 50,000sq m 40-level commercial tower, in partnership with Brookfield Multiplex, will depend upon pre-commitments.
"The simple thing with the Regent is that it's driven by how strong the commercial market is," Mr Browning said.
"At the moment, we have been bidding for commercial tenants, thus far we have not been successful, but if we can get a sizeable commitment then we will build the tower.
Mr Browning said the rear of the Regent Cinema will be demolished, but the 1920s heritage feature, including those covered over in a 1980s redevelopment will be preserved.
He said the intention was to build three auditoriums of various sizes.
"They are meant to be multi-purposed for use for films, lectures or meetings for tenants in the building," he said.
"But, once again, it gets back to commercial viability.
I know that many, many people have already sent emails and letters, and made phone calls, but we really are at the 11th hour now. It may be worth contacting Ministers Andrew Fraser (who can actually stop this development or force changes to it), Kate Jones and Rachel Nolan. While we encourage people to write in their own words, here is a suggested letter. The email addresses are:
Andrew Fraser: email@example.com AND firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Jones, Heritage Minsiter: email@example.com
Rachel Nolan, Arts Minsiter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Along with many thousands of concerned Queenslanders who have signed up to Facebook groups, phoned talkback radio, and written to parliamentarians and councillors, I believe the proposed development of the Regent Theatre is wrong.
This act of cultural vandalism is against the interests of the city and the state, which already has a uneviable reputation for destroying heritage buildings, including such iconic structures as the BelleVue Hotel, Her Majesty's Theatre, the Albert (Metro) theatre, the Paris theatre, Festival Hall, the original Wintergarden and Cloudland.
The development of another office tower is also not needed, as there is a glut of commercial office space in the CBD. It was recently reported that even the State Government would be moving thousands of public servants away from the city centre. Any tenants for this new building can only come from exisiting buildings, which will then in turn be torn down, creating a merry-go-round of destruction and construction that is a danger to our fragile environment and a waste of valuable resources.
So folks, this is how it works in Queensland ... according to a report on brisbanetimes.com.au, the developers of the Regent paid to get five years immunity from further heritage applications. This is after the Save the Regent Group's attempts to have various parts of the building listed. The applications failed despite evidence that much of the material the Showcase cinema and bar area, and almost all of the rear facade is original (even though the developers continue to claim otherwise). How much of the site will be left in five years?
PS: The only person who can stop this is Andrew Fraser. His details, along with other people of influence in this matter are, here.
Savetheregent.com webmaster Brett Debritz spoke to Kelly Higgins-Devine on 612ABC in light of reports that D (demolition) day for the Regent is "imminent". The audio is here: