Big new parts for puppeteers

The upgraded theatre links to a more family-friendly park.

SPARE PARTS Puppet Theatre has revealed long-held plans for a $9.5 million redevelopment of its Pioneer Park home.

Plans developed by Kerry Hill Architects, who also designed the local council’s Walyalup admin centre, show the main theatre expanded to 250 seats, a multi-purpose foyer and “family-friendly” facilities spilling into the park.

Spare Parts chair David Hansen said the vision was for a welcoming environment “for people to engage with outstanding puppetry”.

“We are excited to now share this with the broader Fremantle community,” Mr Hansen said.

“A reinvigorated theatre and surrounding park will serve as an important gateway to Fremantle city and a link to the port.

“This $9.5 million investment, sourced from a range of stakeholders, will provide a more audience-friendly theatre, where people of all ages and abilities can interact with the art of puppetry.”

He said it would create local jobs, be a tourism drawcard and build on the proposed $100 million film studio on Vic Quay.

City ward councillor Rachel Pemberton said the designs were first aired to councillors about two years ago, and she remembers them as being “awesome”.

Cr Pemberton said it was great the landscaping would link the theatre to the park and create an entry statement to Fremantle from the train station.

But Fremantle Society president John Dowson lamented the end of the society’s hopes of having an archaeology centre on the park as a new entry statement.

The society would like to see a historic well that’s buried under the park’s turf restored, but Mr Dowson said the expanded footprint for the theatre puts an end to that.

“The plans look pretty awful … basically there’s lots of concrete taking over the whole park and that would be very upsetting,” Mr Dowson said.

He said while it would be great to see the building’s heritage facade restored as part of the project, the state government had neglected its maintenance to the point it had to have an ugly exoskeleton to hold it together.

“And you gave Simone [McGowan] and [arts minister] David Templeman a free kick by taking their photo in front of the building when they announced it, when they should have been looking after it properly in the first place,” Mr Dowson gently chided the Chook.


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