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Wednesday, 13 September 2017


Bendigo’s thriving arts scene has scored another coup with the announcement that Melbourne’s Arena Theatre Company, one of Australia’s oldest and most respected professional theatre companies focused on young people, will relocate to the city. 


Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards joined the Arena team to announce the move which is supported by the Victorian Government and backed by the City of Greater Bendigo.


Operating since 1966, Arena Theatre Company has built its success on creating high quality, original theatre for young people. It has presented acclaimed performances at leading arts festivals and venues across Australia and internationally, as well as local festivals and schools.


The company is set to become an integral part of Bendigo’s Capital Theatre complex, as its first resident theatre company, and the region’s creative community. Artistic Director Christian Leavesley will relocate to Bendigo and re-establish the company drawing on local talent and focusing on local schools and young people.


Despite its reputation as one of Australia’s leading theatre makers for young people, Arena faced an uncertain future beyond 2016 when, along with many other arts companies, it lost its federal government funding.


Rather than scale back its ambition, it sought to pave a new future in which it could  grow, develop new work, employ creatives, engage young people and the community, and make internationally recognised work.


The board came up with a bold strategy to re-establish itself as a regionally based theatre company. The company was attracted to Bendigo based on its reputation as one of Australia’s most artistically vibrant and engaged cities and its growing population of young families.


The re-location of Arena Theatre Company is supported through the Andrews Labor Government’s $7 million Bendigo Arts and Design package, announced as part of the Creative State strategy in 2016.


Arena Theatre Company will soon commence recruitment for a new CEO and will create a range of opportunities for the local community to be involved in its re-establishment.


Quotes attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan

“Support for Arena Theatre’s move is part of our comprehensive investment in Bendigo’s creative industries and our future creatives. It will open up new creative jobs and boost our reputation as a leading cultural centre.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards

“I look forward to welcoming Arena Theatre Company to Bendigo. Arena will complement our fantastic existing arts and culture offering and bring exciting new creative opportunities for our young people.”


Quotes attributable to Arena Theatre Company Artistic Director Christian Leavesley

“The move offers endless possibilities including local employment, artistic collaborations and engagement with new audiences. We’re excited to create high quality, original, artistically ambitious theatre here in Bendigo.”

Quotes attributable to City of Greater Bendigo Deputy Mayor Cr Rod Fyffe

“Bendigo has a very strong arts and culture reputation and Arena’s move will strengthen our already thriving arts and culture sector. This announcement shows that Greater Bendigo is a regional leader in the arts and creative industries.”


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