Filling in the gaps: The Twyford set to bring theatre, dance and music to the Far South Coast

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Twyford is set to reopen in late July, with a brand new 199-seat theatre ready to host a variety of dance, music and theatre to the region. Photo: Leah Szanto
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Twyford is set to reopen in late July, with a brand new 199-seat theatre ready to host a variety of dance, music and theatre to the region. Photo: Leah Szanto

The Twyford has provided a space for community events, the arts, celebrations and markets for almost 90 years, so many are now anticipating the reopening of the rejuvenated hall and the opening of the brand new theatre and foyer, to be revealed in the coming months.

Construction work has taken place over the last 12 months, largely hidden from view, with the 199-seat theatre funded by both Twyford Hall Inc's fundraising efforts over many years and a $7.4million grant from the NSW government's Regional Communities Development Fund.

Lis Shelley looks after operations and communications for The Twyford and said the heritage-listed hall will continue to be hired for art exhibitions, meetings and dance activities and the theatre will be utilised more for performance.

NEW MEETS OLD: Lis Shelley stands outside The Twyford, currently undergoing a major revamp. Photo: Leah Szanto

NEW MEETS OLD: Lis Shelley stands outside The Twyford, currently undergoing a major revamp. Photo: Leah Szanto

"The program is now booked until November and we are looking for more things that will attract young people," Ms Shelley said.

"We have been talking to schools about the opportunity for senior students to come and perform in the theatre.

"In addition, the program will comprise professional touring companies who will bring theatre, dance and music to the area.

"Often those companies will offer workshops and masterclasses for the community to attend."

"We hope to fill an identified gap in the region for the types of theatre, dance and music that perhaps wouldn't usually come here," Ms Shelley said.

Twyford Hall Inc holds a membership with Performing Arts Connections Australia and Ms Shelley said, as in so many other areas since COVID, people have been very keen to get back in to venues for cultural experiences.

Works are progressing inside the new theatre development at the Twyford, which will seat up to 199 people for a multitude of events. Photo: supplied

Works are progressing inside the new theatre development at the Twyford, which will seat up to 199 people for a multitude of events. Photo: supplied

"There's a big focus on tourism in this area with our natural environment and there's also a huge potential for the arts to boost tourism, offering alternative events," she said.

Twyford Hall Inc is looking at partnering with other regional venues and Canberra venues to build a stronger touring circle.

"We are really connecting in with a lot of other arts organisations in the area and are also looking for shows that appeal to kids during school holidays," Ms Shelley said.

"We are working with Rainbow Wave and will be able to offer the LGBQTI community a safe space to come and hold events."

The Twyford will employ 2.5 full time staff, a venue manager and technical manager and has scope to put on casuals and volunteers to assist with the running of the bar, foyer, sound and lighting and front of house, dependent on show requirements.

"We are very keen to have young people working here and will also offer work experience opportunities," Ms Shelley said.

The Beach Street side of The Twyford. Photo: Leah Szanto

The Beach Street side of The Twyford. Photo: Leah Szanto

The Twyford has been running a 'Buy-a-seat' campaign for three years, and has so far raised almost $30,000 of its $200,000 target.

Twyford ambassador Frankie J Holden said the campaign is a great way to show support for the arts, or to acknowledge the memory of someone you care about.

Donations of $1000 or more will be acknowledged with a seat plaque in the new theatre and all donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged on The Twyford's website and social media.

Donations can be made via GiveNow at www.givenow.com.au/twyford.

Venue hire and touring production enquiries for the Hall or Theatre can be made via The Twyford's website at thetwyford.com.au/venue-hire or by contacting Lis Shelley at The Twyford via email hire@thetwyford.com.au.

The new section of the building has another month to go, after which the fit out can then take place, with the full complex expected to be operational from late July 2021.

This story Filling in the gaps: The Twyford set to bring theatre, dance and music to the Far South Coast first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.