STAGE performers and audiences in Cairns now have access to a spectacular new performing arts centre in the heart of the tropical Queensland city.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, who attended this weekend’s official opening said the main theatre of the new Cairns Performing Arts Centre seats up to 940 people.

“Featuring state-of-the-art new staging facilities and substantially more seating capacity than the old Civic Theatre, this new venue ushers in a bright new era for lovers of the performing arts in Cairns,” Mr Entsch said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, who joined Mr Entsch at the opening, said the $71 million project will provide a huge economic boost to Cairns and the surrounding region.

“Projects of this size create a ripple effect through the local economy and this one in particular has created almost 300 construction jobs and 15 more ongoing roles. It’s already had a major positive impact on the city and the economy,” Mr McCormack said.

Queensland Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said the new centre will be a valuable addition to Cairns, and on top of the main 940-seat theatre includes a versatile 400-seat black box studio theatre that can be adapted to use as a rehearsal and warm-up.

“The Queensland Government invested $15 million in the new venues, which will give Cairns the opportunity to host bigger shows and allow Far North Queensland artists and audiences to embrace creativity and experience unique stories,” Ms Enoch said.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said the new centre has significantly expanded the city’s capacity to host a wide range of performances and will offer a better venue for local artists to tell their stories.

“This building is a milestone in achieving our vision for Cairns to be recognised as the arts and cultural capital of Northern Australia. This strategy will change the soul and the character of our city and is a key step in advancing the evolution and progress of our city,” Cr Manning said.

This project was jointly funded with the Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government investing $10 million, the Queensland Government $15 million and Cairns Regional Council $46 million.

Shane Manning