28 April 2021

Seat sale boosts funds as Merimbula Theatre aims for July opening

| Albert McKnight
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Twyford Theatre

The new Twyford Theatre on Merimbula’s Market Street will feature a lift-accessible foyer. Photo: Christine Kaine.

People are invited to link themselves or a loved one to the new theatre beside Merimbula’s Twyford Hall before it opens later this year.

After 12 months of construction, The Twyford is awakening to reveal its new theatre and foyer as well as modifications to the heritage-listed hall.

In order to support the works a buy-a-seat campaign has been running for three years and has so far raised more than $30,000 of its $200,000 target.

“We are opening soon so want to give people the opportunity to acknowledge someone they care about or who has had an association with the theatre in the past by purchasing a seat,” The Twyford’s operations manager Lis Shelley said.

Arts-lovers are invited to donate $1000 or more to cover the costs of installing one of the theatre’s 199 seats and their donation can be acknowledged by a small plaque with either their name or the name of someone they wish to honour on a seat.

“This is a great way to show your – or your that of your business – support for the arts, or to acknowledge the memory of someone you care about,” Twyford ambassador Frankie J Holden said.

Artist's impression

An artist’s impression of the new Theatre Twyford. Image: Supplied.

Ms Shelley said a nice connection the new theatre had to the old hall was that the grandchildren of the man who donated the hall in 1931 had donated to the installation of seats.

Construction is expected to have finished on The Twyford’s building in the next month to be followed by the theatre’s fit-out including the installation of furniture and stage lighting before it hopefully opens to the public at the end of July.

The theatre – located next to the hall – will be one of the only venues in the South East to offer dedicated raked seating.

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It will also have a higher stage area and there will be a foyer with a bar and café.

“The hall itself is still there – it hasn’t changed,” she said.

“The complex as a whole will really lift to a new level.”

New theatre auditorium

The view from the rear of the new theatre auditorium in The Twyford to the stage. Photo: The Twyford.

Ms Shelley said the aim was to build up The Twyford so it became a destination for companies travelling along the Melbourne to Sydney route and it had already garnered a lot of interest.

“People are keen to get back to live performance,” she said.

It is also hoped the new venue will boost the economy in Merimbula’s CBD it attracts acts through the year.

“When people go to a show they often go for dinner beforehand, do shopping or stay the night,” Ms Shelley said.

“I hope it will lift the town which has suffered quite a bit, first from the bushfires and then COVID.”

She said after a year that had left its mark on the Bega Valley’s art scene, events were starting up again.

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The Four Winds Festival had run at Easter, Candelo Village Festival was back on, the Giiyong Festival was scheduled for later in the year and two film festivals were planned for The Twyford.

“A range of things are happening in the Valley and we are happy performers are getting to perform again,” Ms Shelley said.

“It’s not only the performers too – it’s the lighting staff or the sound engineers who haven’t had anything to do for the last year.

“There’s a bit of a resurgence, I’d say.”

The theatre is being funded by Twyford Hall Inc’s fundraising efforts over many years as well as a $7.4million grant from the NSW government’s Regional Communities Development Fund.

Donations, including for the buy-a-seat campaign, can be made to The Twyford via GiveNow by clicking here.

For more information on The Twyford visit its website by clicking here.

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