Premier must step in to guarantee future of iconic Thebby Theatre: SA-BEST

8 July 2019

SA-BEST today urged Premier, Steven Marshall – as Minister for the Arts – to immediately step in and guarantee the future of the iconic, heritage-listed Thebarton Theatre.

The future of “Thebby” is in doubt amid fears the State Government will compulsory acquire the site – on the corner of South and Henley Beach roads – as part of the next stage of the South Road upgrade project.

SA-BEST MLC and Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said the Premier and Arts Minister has a social responsibility to the people of South Australia to protect and preserve rich parts of this state’s cultural history.

“I call on Premier Marshall to today step in and make a decision that guarantees the long-term future of this iconic landmark,” Frank said.

“From a music and entertainment perspective, there is nothing that comes close to ticking those boxes than Thebby Theatre,” he said.

“Before the Adelaide Festival Theatre or the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, the Thebby was THE entertainment venue in Adelaide.

“Thebby Theatre holds a very special place in our arts community.

“It's one of the last remaining picture theatres of its type in Australia and has undergone extensive renovations to its magnificent interior and ceiling.

“It has entertained countless people in its almost 100-year history from film and theatre to pro-wrestling and music.

“Some of the biggest names in the music industry have played there and only last year Thebby was inducted into the SA Music Hall of Fame.”

Frank said the nearby Queen of Angels Church, its adjoining school and the Josephite convent and the district's former century-old municipal hall also needed to be preserved.

“All of these buildings are of enormous heritage and cultural value to people of the western suburbs,” Frank said.

“To many, they are considered sacred sites that must not be touched by bulldozers,” Frank said.

“Like the Thebby Theatre, the Queen of Angels Church is irreplaceable. Its tall spire is a special feature,” he said.

“The adjoining bluestone convent and school belonged to the Josephite order of our first saint, Mother Mary MacKillop.

“It holds a particularly special place and has fond memories for me because I attended school there, and I was baptised in the church.” 

Frank said to even suggest state heritage listing status won't be enough to protect these buildings - or others in the path of the project - is “outrageously arrogant”.

He said the government would feel the wrath of massive public opposition if it dared demolish the Thebby.

The preferred option would be for the project to go underground – similar to the Torrens to Torrens sector - or build tunnels.

“To raze such important relics of our State's history to save money is plain lunacy,” Frank said.

“As a matter of urgency, Premier Marshall must step in and declare the future of the Thebby – and these other culturally-significant buildings - will be guaranteed for the long term.”

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