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                                                        CATHS TOURS

                                                 THE SOUTH-WEST
                                                 THE SOUTH-WEST

                                                             13-16 September 07
                                                              13-16 September 07
                                  Part One

            A CATHS tour is about taking the  manicured lawns well away from the  Kelly, who is often the one lugging
          pulse of theatre and cinema       main street and the faded glory of the  films around, is not enamoured of a
          entertainment in a selected corner of  former Regent theatre, now an RSL  design with two projection suites.
          the country, while enjoying       Club. The entrance and foyer is       Wisely, the towns of Naracoorte
          companionship and the scenery along  spacious and filled with light from the  (S.A.) and Stawell (Vic.), each with a
          the way. This year thirty-one members  angled glass of walls and ceiling, a  population of 6,000, modernised their
          in two buses (self-driven) travelled  style equally appropriate for a  halls from within, ensuring no jarring
          Victoria’s Western District into South  swimming pool or public library. It is a  changes to stately facades. At the
          Australia, as far as Mt Gambier and  pleasant space in which to sip coffee  Naracoorte Institute both stage and
          Naracoorte.                       and look out over manicured lawns.   seating has been changed. The most
            The return trip took in                                                      radical idea was to replace
          the Grampians to Halls                                                         the balcony with an
          Gap and Stawell. By the                                                        interlocking metal frame
          time of the last inspection                                                    supporting demountable
          at Ararat, the group had                                                       seats.
          studied the interiors of 21                                                      Guide Vicki Modistach
          buildings with a cinema                                                        explained that the seats
          history and driven past or                                                     could be stacked and put
          walked around eight                                                            away in 15 minutes. The
          others. Here are some                                                          supporting frame is pushed
          impressions from a trip of                                                     back in concertina fashion
          1,200 km.                                                                      to the rear wall, where it
            The rural wealth of the                                                      takes up only two metres of
          south-west is the stuff of legend. It is  The main auditorium is similarly  space. Without a demonstration this
          evident in fine homes, smart towns and  functional: the stage can be extended  was hard to believe. One downside: the
          family names commemorated in events  for concerts, but is more often framing  noise when climbing or descending the
          in the Spring Racing Carnival. Many of  a roll-down cinema screen. With 344  steps - like standing on a cat’s tail -
          these families were generous with  comfortable seats on well-raked steps,  would stifle any urge for a toilet break.
          endowments and it shows in the layout  sightlines seem perfect.      Vicki claimed that the ‘squark’ was a
          of streets, public buildings and     What makes this venue a little  healthy sound, an indication that the
          monuments.                        different is that it is a cinema all week,  mechanism was in balance.
            Not surprisingly, the larger or more  using both main auditorium and a  At the ‘stage’, curtains and a roll-
          prosperous the town, the more     purpose-built cinema (118 seats) at  down screen are supported on a metal
          ambitious the town hall or the former  weekends. This project was started by  frame - all on wheels - which allows the
          cinema building.                  the ill-fated Anderson group, then run  ‘proscenium’ to move forward or back.
            Entertainment is usually consolidated  for a short time by Reading Cinemas  In Hamilton, (also 6,000 people) the
          within a performing-arts venue. In a  and is now controlled by a local family  former town hall, remodelled for live
          smaller town the best hall or a former  company. Manager Kelly Hester, 21  performance, is behind a 1970s
          cinema serves this function, sometimes  who joined in 2000 as projectionist and  entrance that adds a cinema, library and
          substantially upgraded, or otherwise  ‘all rounder’, has watched it grow to a  art gallery. The single-screen, 140-seat
          surviving in a down-at heel-way.   staff of four part-time projectionists.   cinema is basic but comfortable.
            A traditional cinema surviving as a  Kelly explained some of the      Industry identity Reg Boulter
          cinema was usually only possible in a  difficulties inherent in sharing the  moved to the cinema from the
          larger town, either as a slimmed-down  facility with live entertainment, which  performing arts venue three years ago
          version of its former self, or divided  is part of the council charter. A viable  when he found that the sound system in
          into a three-screen complex.      cinema needs unrestricted access at  the large hall wasn’t good enough for
                                            weekends. During the week council  films. Reg entertained us with his
          PERFORMING ARTS CENTRES           stipulates that live entertainment for the
            A council-owned, multi-purpose  main auditorium take precedence.   observations on the difficulties of
          venue is the best theatrical option for  Sharing a venue can be a film  staying afloat in the business.
                                                                               “Everyone wants to have a cinema, but
          mid-size towns. Colac Performing  programmer’s nightmare.            once they get it they forget about
          Arts Centre (COPAC) stands on
                                                                               having to patronise it”, was his lament.

          6   2007 CINEMARECORD
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