THE KINGS CROSS THEATRE PRECINCT
PRESENTED by bAKEHOUSE Co-Artistic Director
for THE POTTS POINT PARTNERSHIP SPRING NETWORKING
I am here to celebrate a thriving and vibrant theatre precinct.
When we opened KXT in 2015 across from the coke sign in the heart of the city in the heart of the Cross, we connected 4 venues, all delivering work of extraordinary quality, placing them all within walking distance of one another. Griffin theatre sits on Nimrod St and next year celebrates 20 years. The Old Fitz down the hill on the edge of Woolloomooloo last year celebrated 30 years. The Hayes theatre ran its first season in 2014 and KXT launched in 2015. Last year the national arts editor of Time out Magazine declared the KX Theatre Precinct as the Sydney Theatre district that matters.. And it’s become known locally: the investment from council in fringe HQ demonstrates the accepted status and value of the area.
Its our own Off Broadway. Sydney’s Soho
So. what is that value? In practical terms: we drive incredible numbers of foot traffic into the area, building a base of grass roots tourism second to none. As an example: the past 2 years the combined audience numbers from the Old Fitz and KXT is 200,000. And that’s just a part of it. Griffin and Hayes theatre routinely run sold out seasons. If only a portion of that 200,000 buy a meal and a drink we’ve invested heavily into the viability of local business.
In keeping with being in the heart of the city, KXT joins with the other venues as a birthplace for careers: Did you attend Lord of the Flies at the Ros Packer for STC? Almost the entire cast, plus lighting designer and sound designer have worked at theatres in the area. And many will return. In the process we have created close ties with govt subsidised venues STC and Belvoir and have now become an essential cog in the economic and artistic well being of our city.
Lets get a little esoteric. Theatre entertains, distracts, informs, elaborates on the political conversation. But in broader terms: it records the world we live in and tells us about the world we want to live in. And here in KX, theatre is
the link to a long history of performance and a pathway towards the future.
We can talk about a city’s developments, infrastructure, services, suburbs. But theatre and art is the thing that gives a place heart, that demonstrates what we value, that gives where we live and where we work it’s personality and it’s purpose and it’s pulse.
Small to medium theatres like the ones in this precinct - as well as Fringe HQ here til Christmas - speak directly to their audience. We are in touch with them, telling them what’s on, hearing from them what it is they like, extending the conversation begun with our plays. Our combined eDM’s are distributed to many many thousands. We offer to you a 7 days a week, 52 w a year marketing machine. At any given time each of these venues is promoting what’s on, what’s coming up, and telling people why they should come. We’re on TV, radio, in newspapers and all over online with digital content.
So let’s think about how a community works. Core to the work at KXT is partnership with local orgs. NFP’s like Acon, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Chris O’Brien Lighthouse, and Mary’s house. We also partner with business: an upcoming show about vulnerable young women is supported by XFighting, who will run a free workshop for women in self defensive. We can talk about competition of course. But the thriving communities are those that understand the philosophy of I Am We Are: if you do well then we do well. And if I’m doing well then likely you will too. So what we have here in the KX Theatre Precint is an opportunity to support and grow and build our community.
There’s more we can consider: Visiting Hours our immersive theatre experience inspired by a local doctor from the 50s. nomnomnom an interactive experience on the streets of KX that was written to address isolation in cities. Popupstairs, our creative space sharing partnership giving support to experimental work that otherwise wouldn’t have a home. The art wall in our foyer showcasing the work of early stage artists.
Like all arts organisations we are much more than the thing you see.
We know it’s not enough to do it, we also have to be talking about it. And talking about Kings Cross is fraught. However, KX is more than the 80s or the golden mile or the underbelly, or a coward punch... yes this is certainly part of its history, and the plaques in the footpath demonstrate the value we must place in that, and the lessons we learn. But as we move forward let’s do that together. And lets talk - together - about all that this wonderful area holds
So what am I here to do?
I’m here to advocate for champions. If you haven’t been to one of those theatres then go. If you’re interested in engaging and partnering, if you want to talk about reciprocal opportunities, hit us up. If you want to invest in this thing that brings such value to your area then get in touch. It costs minimum $100k to keep the doors of a theatre open, and fringe HQ and Griffin are the only 2 venues receiving substantial operational funding. The rest of us are largely doing it on our own.
Help us help you.
The KX theatre precinct is unique and valuable. Let’s all work more closely together so that we can - together - tell the story of the real kings cross as we move into the future.
Griffin Theatre + Old Fitz Theatre + Hayes Theatre + KXT