Page 7 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
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The seats, projectors, and all other theatre equipment were sold off and after being vacant for some time, it was
             purchased by a Shepparton business man.  In the years since 1966, the building was u.sed as a restaurant, a
             games room and some dances were held there, but it gradually fell into disrepair.
             In 1982 the Kyabram Youth Club set about bringing the theatre back from the dilapidated state that many years
             of neglect had left it in. The owner of the theatre was approached and told of our dream. Because of the poor
             state of repair of the building it was decided that the Youth Club would get the theatre back into operation, at no
             cost to the owner, in return for a free six month lease from the date of our first movie showing.

             Our financial  position was embarrassing to say the  least.  We  had an  empty building  and  nothing  else, no
             equipment or any other theatre material. The first job after acquiring the building was to find such equipment.
            We were very lucky in acquiring the two Cummings and  Wilson  Model  CPS  35mm projectors, new screen,
             curtains, sound system and electrical parts, from the Eildon Theatre. That theatre was originally set up by the
             Utah Mining Co. in the late 1940's, to entertain the workers during the construction of the Eildon reservoir until
             it closed in  1978.

            Twenty committee members with trucks and trailers, set out at 3 a.m. one frosty morning, to retrieve our new
            found equipment. After many phone calls across Victoria, we found some seats at the Metro in Collins Street
             Melbourne. So once again our committee people set out to retrieve the seats. Collins Street would have been
            buzzing for days with stories about the hillbillies and their stock crates. These seats had to be dismantled into
            four parts each, and then loaded onto the truck. They then had to be re-assembled and installed in our empty
            theatre.  With  countless  hours  of voluntary  labour by  our committee  members,  service  clubs,  and  local
            tradespeople, the theatre was once again in the business of entertaining the people of Kyabram and surrounding
            districts, reopening as the "Plaza" in October 1983.

            In  1988 the Theatre Committee asked the Kyabram Town  Council to buy the Plaza  • The Council received a
            bicentennial  project  grant of $13,200 to  be  matched  by the  Council.  A  further $20,000  from  the  Theatre
            Committee's savings and $35,000 raised by a public appeal organised by the Theatre Committee. The balance
            was from a bank loan, serviced by the rent paid by the Theatre Committee and the two shops at the front of the
            theatre. The Theatre Committee then became a Committee of Management under Council.

            The Committee decided to approach the Victorian Ministry of the Arts with the idea of making the theatre into
            a performing arts centre. The idea was formed because of the lack of a  top  class  theatre anywhere in the
            Goulburn Valley.  The Ministry of the Arts suggested that Mr.  Dennis Irving (theatre consultant of Entertech)
            inspect the theatre to verify the feasibility of the idea. His report praised the building and the idea of a regional
            performing arts centre. His recommendations to make the theatre capable of presenting a high quality production,
            with adequate stage, excellent lighting and raked seating of 431, was enthusiastically endorsed by the Kyabram

            In the seven years since 1988, the theatre has undergone a complete transformation. A full sized stage house
            and  flytower were built with  the addition of two modern and well appointed dressing  rooms.  The stage was
            constructed  to  be able to  take  the weight of a  car, while  also  being  a  sprung stage suitable for ballet.  An
            orchestra pit was constructed and the old Metro seats were once again dismantled and removed, this time to
            be re-upholstered. The entire theatre interior was painted and decorated by Committee volunteers (saving the
            town $60,000), and when the new carpet was laid the theatre came to life.

            During  construction  of the raked  seating floor, electrical  and technical  volunteers installed  in  excess of five
            miles of electrical cable. In  1994  a state of the  art lighting and  sound  reinforcement system  was  installed,
            making the Plaza  Theatre one of the most technically well equipped theatres in Australia.  In April  1995, the
            committee purchased a thrust stage to extend the existing stage out over the orchestra pit. This will enable us
            to host full sized orchestras on the main stage.

            The Eildon projection equipment has now been replaced by a pair of Century projectors from the Stawell Drive-
            In  (ex Clayton Drive-In), and matched with a pair of new Strong Lume-x 1600 watt Xenon lamp houses. The
            sound system includes surround sound and incorporates a hearing loop within the auditorium. The only major
            requirement left is the air conditioning for the building. This is where we are at present- on the verge of a most
            exciting era in our region's history. The Plaza has indeed been reborn from the ruins.

            (1) Kyabram by W. Bossence   (2) Kyabram Free Press 24.5.29   (3) Everyones 17.6.31   (4) Kyabram Free Press 13.10.66
            (5) Kyabram Free Press 27.1 0.66, 10.11 .66   (6) Kyabram Free Press 17.5.83   (7) Kyabram Free Press 1988
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