A new home for the Old 505 Theatre
The story of the project
Above: Hibernian House Surry Hills
The new theatre will offer a permanent home to Sydney’s independent theatre makers, allowing us to extend our subscriber season and build new audiences. The new theatre will also provide us the opportunity to test out new ways of working, a new model for the future. A space where artists can have the freedom to create the work they want, in the way they want, while also trying out new models of operation to help build a more sustainable future for the Independent sector.
We will be testing out new pay structures, new ticketing models and other bright ideas that we think might offer artists greater security and more opportunities.
For the past ten years, 505 has supported Independent artists with our two artist run performance spaces the Old 505 Theatre and Venue 505. This year we celebrate our tenth birthday and the memories of over 2000 productions and gigs that have been produced in our spaces. It’s now time to build a stable and secure home for our theatre program and we need your help.
Above: The foyer, Old 505 Theatre, Surry Hills
Over the past decade 505 has remained entirely self-funded, running on contributions from our founding Directors and a hefty team of volunteers. Our theatre space has been underwritten by our big brother venue up the road Venue 505. But it’s now time to stand on our own two feet. To have a fighting chance of surviving the current landscape of Independent arts in Sydney we need a little help to get started. So we’re asking our community of artists and audiences, those who remember the good old days up in the warehouse, those who met their future husbands and wives there, who started their career there, who saw the best gig ever there, who met a creative partner there, everyone and anyone who values the community that has been built around 505 and the place it holds in our City, to dig deep and be part of a new project that will in turn continue to shape our community and support new artists and work.
How the funds will be used
Above: one of our many working bees in the old space
This new space will have all the bells and whistles, will be 100% compliant and offer our community a stable and terrific facility to present their work in.
Above: floor plan of the new space
That of course comes at a hefty price tag. The start up of this project will cost close to $50,000. We’re asking our community to contribute the cost of our new seating bank. $15,000 is our target and for that we will have a glorious bank of tiered beauties that will ensure there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Should we exceed our target, we will reduce the capital that is being put up by individuals to pay for the other aspects of the fit-out: a free standing lighting rig and new lights; new curtains; new furniture; a stage floor – the list goes on. Only if we raised over $50k would we truly be starting in front, so – don’t be shy!
Some of my other work
Above: the beginnings of 505
505 is an artist run company that runs two performance spaces focusing on quality performance and community engagement & development. At the heart of what we do is support for original artists. 505 had it’s birth in Sydney’s inner city where it operated an ‘underground’ performance space from 2004-2009. In this time we offered a platform for contemporary music and theatre artists to present original works to new and dedicated audiences. We presented not only over 350 local acts in the original space but played host to the best internationally renowned artists, quickly becoming the go to stop-off for artists on arena tours wanting to connect with local artists and audiences while in town.
Established by Kerri Glasscock and Cameron Undy, 505 was developed as an artist run performance/workshop space for Sydney based musicians and theatrical performers. It was created as a meeting place for artists from two genres (music and theatre) to see each other’s work and initiate collaborations.
After five increasingly successful years of performances and audience development, 505 moved out from the shadows and initiated an exciting new venture. Opening in early 2010, Venue 505 now on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills has come to be known as Sydney’s only 100% performance-focused, artist run live music venue, and a critical part of Sydney’s music landscape. It is a space from which to support the local community of inner-city artists, musicians, performers, and audiences.
With the music program ﬁnding a new home on Cleveland Street at the beginning of 2011, 505 launched a new theatre space – The Old 505 Theatre – in the original venue. It continues to offer independent theatre practitioners a space to develop and present new work, focusing on new Australian and devised works, launching it’s very own subscription season in 2014 and appointing Gareth Boylan as Associate Artistic Director.
Both venues now play a vital role in the cultural landscape of Sydney, presenting over 350 performances and productions every year to thousands of audience members. When the doors ﬁrst opened in 2004 we couldn’t imagine that we were about to become part of the Sydney’s incredible Independent arts community. This community is warm, varied, spectacular, strange, exceptional, inviting and, above all else, new! It is sometimes disheartening that this community can often be hidden, ﬂying beneath the wider cultural radar, and not included in main stage festival programs and mainstream venues in this city.
Within the independent artist community there are many different organisations that speak for numerous artistic forms and groups. It is these artists that truly, and presently, represent the breadth of Sydney’s art scene.
More than just landmarks in their own right, Venue 505 and The Old 505 Theatre have helped shape the arts and entertainment environment itself. We have been involved in amending Council laws and have advised State Government on the needs of local artists and Sydney’s creative community, and continue to be part of the ongoing discussion to make Sydney’s Independent arts sectors vibrant, viable and sustainable. The City of Sydney has encouraged the development of creative precincts within the city, and 505 sees itself as a vital central hub within the creative village of Surry Hills.
Venue 505 has been listed as one of the top 150 Jazz Clubs in the world by DownBeat Magazine (U.S.A) for the past three years running. The Club was also featured as a must visit spot in the 2013 Lonely Planet guide to Sydney, and was awarded a highly commended at Time Out Magazine’s 2012 Bar Awards for Best Entertainment Venue.
More information about the history of 505 is available here.
This new space will finally offer the Old 505 Theatre and it’s artists a sustainable future, with a larger capacity, inbuilt hospitality offerings and possible ancillary income streams, so we are sure that once we get there we can make it work. Getting there however is our biggest challenge.
Setting up venues is an expensive business. Most small-medium sized culturally focused venues in Sydney either don’t make it or survive by the skin of their teeth. It is a hand to mouth existence. This means that most organisations like ourselves don’t have a great deal of capital and cash flow is always tight. An investment of this level is a very big challenge. We are here for the long haul and will contribute all that we can, but we need a little help to get there.