1st September 2015
Dear Glebe Society,
This is an open letter to you, the community of Glebe, as an appeal for your support of our local theatre, the Archway 1 Theatre company, arts space and coffee counter, currently housed beneath the viaduct at Bicentennial/Federation Parks.
As many of you may be aware, plans to develop the park have been fast tracked and that the community, have until the 7th of September 2015 to have their final say on these plans. However, many of you may not be aware of the fact that Glebe has a local theatre that has been existence since 2012 and we have also been operating as a community arts centre for 10 years, in the same location.
Unfortunately, the Council’s development plans will see our local theatre and arts space removed, to make way for an opened space, skateboard park. We attended initial consultation meetings between the City of Sydney and the local community two years ago, but our voices were drowned out by those who were adamant in seeing the arches cleared in order to make way for a skateboard park/thoroughfare. We feel that the Glebe community have largely been unaware of our existence, let alone the work we have contributed to making Archway 1 Theatre Company what it is, as well as the value that many others see in the work we do and have done.
The Archway 1 Theatre Co. is unfunded, it is volunteer run and it engages the community at many levels. It is serious theatre! One that deals with topical issues which pertains to our everyday lives, allowing reflection on ideological, political, social, psychological, cultural, philosophical and historical themes, in tragic, humorous and imaginative ways.
We have not come by this theatre lightly, we have fought for it in more ways than one and its with this spirit of endeavor, that we urge you to join with us and others, in saving this unique community initiative, an initiative by the community for the community. We are long time Glebe residents, with Rachel growing up in the area and attending Glebe Public School as a child.
The benefits of a theatre beneath the archway, can already be quantified by the many people who have seen our productions and who have participated in our dance, acting, art workshops, fashion shows, photography shoots, film making shoots, writer’s forums, movie nights, poetry readings, live musical recitals, or those who have viewed art and photography exhibitions or visited during our studio open days or who have simply stopped by for a coffee and to enjoy the ambience of the park and to converse with strangers and friends alike. Can the same cultural and community offerrings be said for a skateboard park in our place? We are not against the idea of a skate park, but look at the benefits of what we have to offer the community, in comparison.
Perhaps a compromise of some sort can be had, with a re-design of the current ten year old plan, to accommodate the needs of the wider demographic that our theatre serves, rather than the somewhat narrow and in many people’s opinion, youth-only demographic that a skate park focuses on.
Many of the residents who have discovered us, have expressed to me personally, their dismay at having us removed in favour of current plans to create empty/clear arches. For them, an empty archway holds no community or cultural value, it gives little if nothing of benefit to the people except to appease an aesthetic appreciation of an architectural structure, for a few.
Removing our theatre, will literally create a void, where there was once art, activity, creativity, culture, learning, sharing, understanding, growth, imagination, respect and so on, there will instead be the clackity-clack of skateboards! It will eliminate what is a unique space, that nowhere else in Sydney and I dare say in Australia has, which is a theatre situated beneath an historical, landmark viaduct!
It seems that the city does not share the inspiration that other city councils in other parts of the world, such as Paris, New York, Berlin… have seen, it their creative utilization of viaducts, as artisan spaces, galleries, creative offices, cafes, art studios and yes, even theatres. What we have done, is set a precedence and we urge you to share in our enthusiasm and vision, as it will have long term benefits for the area and community.
Further, we strive to pay homage to the heritage of the building, its historical significance and to keep it alive with community activities and participation.
Finally, for all those who are set on seeing the last of us, we cordially invite you to see our latest production, to get to know us and that by doing so, broadening your parameters of Glebe. Our local community theatre, with your support, will enrich Glebe and indeed Sydney. It will attract positive attention to the park and become a place of cultural interest and significance for both locals and visitors alike. We welcome you to come to our open day this Saturday 5th Sept. 2015, where we will be on hand with information about what we do and what we hope to see for Archway 1.
Thank you kindly.
Stefan von Reiche
The Archway 1 Theatre Company
Archway 1 Arts Studio