Walsh Bay Arts Precinct announces program for Open Day

Walsh Bay Arts Precinct photo by Jacquie ManningAustralia’s newest cultural precinct, Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, has announced the full public program of over 40 free events for its first precinct-wide Open Day, presented across Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 on Saturday 8 October 2022.

The one-day program runs alongside the companies’ regular ticketed performance program and is set to highlight the dynamic cultural offerings of the revitalised heritage Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.

The event encompasses a series of free talks, workshops, interactive activities, behind-the-scenes tours, as well as access to performance rehearsals, hosted by the Precinct’s resident arts companies including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Theatre for Young People, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Bell Shakespeare, Gondwana Choirs, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

“This is a unique and immersive opportunity to experience the newly revitalised Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and all that it has to offer, I look forward to welcoming visitors to the Open Day for the chance to engage with a vibrant program of free performances and activities that highlight the companies, artists and spaces that make this one of Australia’s premier arts and cultural destinations,” said Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin.

Presented exclusively for Open Day, the Artistic Directors Round Table will provide a rare opportunity to witness the Artistic Directors of Walsh Bay Arts Precinct’s resident companies in a lively ‘in conversation’ event about the future of Australia’s arts and culture landscape.

Moderated by the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney Jess Scully, speakers will include Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra; Fraser Corfield, Artistic Director of Australian Theatre for Young People; Stephen Page, Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre; Peter Evans, Artistic Director of Bell Shakespeare; Lyn Williams, Artistic Director of Gondwana Choirs; Rafael Bonachela, Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company; Brett Weymark, Artistic Director of Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; and Kip Williams, Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company.

Australian Chamber Orchestra will transform its Belgiorno Room into a pop-up café and cinema, showing exclusive StudioCasts of the ACO live in performance, as well as interactive children’s activities related to their new theatre production How To Catch A Star – based on the book by international best-selling author Oliver Jeffers, weaving together story and live music.

Australian Theatre for Young People invites young visitors to join in on a precinct-wide treasure hunt that explores all the places and spaces that make up the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and its neighbourhood of artists. ATYP will also host a series of 30-minute drama workshops, performance tasters and improvisational theatre games, led by some of the industry’s best teaching artists and professional actors.

Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance company, will welcome visitors into the foyer space of their Studio Theatre for artistic and educational children’s activities inspired by Waru – journey of the small turtle, the dance company’s first dedicated performance for children. Children are invited to create their own turtle sculptures, posters and learn about the rich culture of the Torres Strait Islands.

Bell Shakespeare will host exclusive behind-the-scenes viewings of the rehearsals for their upcoming world premiere musical The Lovers, a pop-infused reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as a series of Shakespeare themed workshops for young people.

Gondwana Choirs will host 30-minute interactive family singing workshops, for children to experience the joy and fun of being a member of the Sydney Children’s Choir. Participants will have the opportunity to sing beautiful music, learn new skills and talk to the conductors and staff about what it’s like to be in the choir.

Sydney Dance Company will offer free taster dance classes spanning ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, jazz and tap, led by some of the industry’s best dance teachers, as well as pre-recorded and live streamed classes presented on the big screen in their studios.

Complimentary Pilates postural assessments will be available for booking, alongside guided tours of their Pilates and Conditioning Studio. Visitors can also watch the Company dancers rehearse their new work Summer, choreographed by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela for their upcoming season Resound.

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs invites adult singers of all abilities to a free 90-minute Sing With Us workshop in the Precinct’s impressive event space featuring choral music from Bach and Mozart. Led by the Choir’s Artistic Directors and accompanied by a live string quartet and piano, participants will have the opportunity to explore wonderful works alongside the Choir’s seasoned singers.

Sydney Theatre Company will give visitors behind-the-scenes access to the Company’s set, costume, and props workshops. They will also host a series of acting workshops for children of all ages, and invite visitors to join Director Tait de Lorenzo, who was Assistant Director on the company’s recent production of Blithe Spirit, for a Q&A discussion about her creative process – from developing a directorial vision, to working with designers and actors.

Visitors can also enjoy a program of local food and beverage offerings, including a one-day pop-up food event at View by Sydney at Pier 2/3, hosted by the team behind Flying Fish.

Presented especially for Open Day, Archie Rose will host a special gin tasting at the Theatre Bar at the end of the Wharf, and Mr Jones at Sydney Dance Company will offer a special Sydney Dance survival lunch box for those patrons who have worked up a dancer’s appetite. Special promotions will also be on offer at local favourites Bar Cycle and Lotus Dumpling Bar.

“We’re delighted to support Walsh Bay Arts Precinct in hosting its first Open Day, which is particularly timely as we encourage people to come back into the city centre and enjoy all it has to offer,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

“I can’t wait to see the Precinct come to life in celebration of its amazing resident arts companies with an accessible and diverse program of special events.”

Located within the traditional lands of the Gadigal people, Walsh Bay has been a place of gathering for thousands of years. Tucked beneath the western edge of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it is now home to the city’s most dramatic district, Walsh Bay Arts Precinct. The famous timber-clad wharves Wharf 4/5 and Pier 2/3 were built between 1913 and 1920, housing cargo sheds and maritime warehouses.

The wharves were revitalised in the 1980s with the arrival of Sydney Theatre Company and the area has now undergone another major revamp, with a heritage-sensitive design of Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, alongside the redesign of Sydney Theatre Company’s spaces by Hassell, to create Walsh Bay Arts Precinct. Australia’s latest arts destination, the Precinct is home to nine of the nation’s foremost performing arts companies.

The newly redeveloped Walsh Bay Arts Precinct is the result of $371 million investment by the NSW Government. The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Open Day is supported by a Precinct Activation Grant from the City of Sydney.

The Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Open Day takes place on Saturday 8 October 2022 (10.00am – 4.00pm). For more information and full program, visit: www.create.nsw.gov.au for details.

Image: Walsh Bay Arts Precinct Artists – photo by Jacquie Manning