The Brisbane Times reports here that, although it seems there is no major tenant (Suncopr said no to a proposal), demolition work will begin soon on the Regent. Another black day for heritage in Queensland.
Now that it seems nothing short of a miracle, will save the Regent, here's a two-part eulogy from John Knox of Brisbane radio station 4KQ.
The State Government has released its "heritage management plan" for the Regent. While being more than the developer originally offered, it is far less than we hoped for. There will be more comment on this over the next days and weeks, but sadly this could be the end of the road. Please continue to let your elected officials that you are not happy.
Savetheregent.com webmaster Brett Debritz says:
This is basically a token effort, when so much more could have been done to save the Showcase cinema, which includes original fabric from the 1920s, or perhaps restore the original auditorium of the Brisbane CBD's last remaining Hollywood-style picture palace.
Stirling Hinchliffe has finished the work begun by Joh Bjelke-Petersen in decimating Brisbane's cultural heriage. The Regent has been sacrificed to the gods of development.
A government that truly cared for our heritage would have brokered a much beter deal, such as the one that saved the now-thriving Regent in Melbourne after 30 years of lying in disrepair.
In America and Europe, there are many examples where heritage theatres have been incorporated into office towers, but the owners and developers of the Regent chose not to go down that track and the government did not insist that they do. This is despite the fact that Brisbane desperately needs another large multipurpose auditorium. As Arts Minister, Premier Anna Bligh should be acutely aware of how Sydney and Melbourne score cultural events that Queensland cannot accommodate. Or is she too busy trying to secure big sporting events like the Commonwealth Games to worry about her own portfolio?
Nearly 20,000 people of all ages and backgrounds signed petitions and joined online groups to stop this from happening, but our leaders did not listen.
The grand Regent Theatre in Melbourne is being used to host the AFI Awards. The Herald Sun has a great picture of host Shane Jacobsen in the ornate foyer. The Regent in Brisbane is closed, pending its partial demolition to make way for an office tower with only token cinema space. With half a dozen large, working theatres (mostly beautiful, restored heritage venues), Melbourne has become Australia's Broadway. Brisbane can't hold two big theatre events on the same night.
Yet another petition opposing the current plans for the redevelopment of the Regent has been presented to State Parliament; this one with with the signatures of more than 3200 people who want the plans for the cinema to be changed and for the cultural heritage of the site to be recognised adequately. This is in addition to the 9100 signatures on the FIVE petitions that have previously been presented to parliament protesting the Regent redevelopment, making it a total of 12,300 signatures from people who want to save the Regent! This is a remarkable number, considering many petitions tabled in Parliament attract only a few hundred signatures. Sadly, all of the Regent petitions -- plus vocal protests online, and two peaceful rallies -- have so far been ignored by Premier Bligh and her government.