Eternity Playhouse Season Launch 2014

(6.30pm, Tuesday 8 October 2013, Burton Street Darlinghurst)

Thank you, Glenn [Terry]. Hello, everyone, it's great to see you here in our newest performing arts venue. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

What a thrill to be here for the launch of Darlinghurst Theatre Company's inaugural season at the Eternity Playhouse.

When the city bought this building in 2004, it was clear it needed extensive repairs. But as usually happens with old buildings, the repairs proved to be more extensive than thought and the work became prolonged!

But it has been very thorough, ranging from special treatment to draw accumulated salts from the plaster to reinstating the beautiful original timber ceiling.

We needed to investigate archaeological remains found last year, which proved to be the foundations of the terraces that were demolished for construction of the rear building.

We carried out stabilising and waterproofing works as well as general repairs. A new Welsh slate roof was provided, along with copper guttering and repairs to the stained glass and tuck-pointing of the façade.

A lot of work was done to improve internal finishes and bring the services into line with current building codes, while underground pods collect stormwater from the roof for toilet flushing and hose taps and solar panels on the roof supply energy-efficient lighting.

For the Playhouse itself, the works involved converting the basement for a box office, café and bar and public facilities. We also created a new backstage area with dressing rooms, offices and performers' facilities, and created new foyers, new stairs and a lift.

It will be a great home for the Darlinghurst Theatre Compan, and other companies for which it is the umbrella group, and for audiences as well.

Eternity Playhouse will be an important part of the performing arts precinct which has developed on the eastern side of the City, joining the Old Fitz in Woolloomooloo, the SBW Stables Theatre in Kings Cross and the Tap Gallery Theatre across the road.

And early next year Independent Music Theatre will be begin staging productions in the Darlinghurst Theatre's former home in Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point.

This performing arts precinct is part of a larger cultural arc which includes William Street, where we are hosting a number of start-up creative companies in City-owned buildings through to Oxford Street where other City buildings are also home to a number of innovative and creative enterprises.

In addition, we're looking to redevelop Heffron Hall as a multi-purpose community cultural and creative centre, and to redesign the adjacent park.

The Burton Street Tabernacle has been a landmark of Sydney since it was built in 1887 and remained a centre of worship for over a century.

And it was, of course, where Arthur Stace, wounded and debilitated after the First World War, heard the sermon preaching the message of Eternity - a message he took into the streets of Sydney throughout the rest of his life.

I'm sure you'll agree "Eternity" was the only possible name for this playhouse and I hope it will be a good omen for the future of the Darlinghurst Theatre. I look forward to this inaugural season.

Thank you.