Rathmines Theatre open after $3.3m refurbishment

Rathmines Theatre.
Rathmines Theatre.

A new stage has been set, quite literally, for performing arts in Lake Macquarie with the upgrade to the historic Rathmines Theatre.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser was joined by Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper at Rathmines Theatre on Friday for a walk through and viewing of its $3.3 million refurbishment.

Cr Fraser said the project has given the historic building a new lease of life.

"The refreshed facility will help to reinvigorate the cultural scene in western Lake Macquarie and will deliver significant economic benefits to the area," she said.

"This state-of-the-art facility offers a place for performers to take centre stage and share their talents with the community.

"It is also home to the heritage centre, a place where our community can visit to learn about the history of Rathmines and Lake Macquarie city."

Jointly funded by the NSW Government through its Stronger Countries Community Fund and Lake Macquarie City Council, the upgrade included an internal fit-out, new bathrooms, new audio-visual equipment, disabled parking, an accessible ramp and landscaping.

Rathmines from the air in 1943.

Rathmines from the air in 1943.

Rathmines Theatre, formerly known as the Rathmines Community Hall, is located on the former RAAF Station Rathmines and is of local heritage significant.

The building was constructed in the 1940s and was used as a picture theatre and gymnasium. It was vital in providing a recreational outlet for hundreds of men who spent time at the RAAF Station.

In the 1960s, Lake Macquarie City Council took over the management of the former RAAF Station and used the building as a community hall catering to the needs of the community.

The council's manager arts, culture and tourism, Jacqui Hemsley, said the redeveloped venue provides a great opportunity for the arts community, and an ideal tourism destination.

"Rathmines Theatre will offer unique programs and exhibitions unlike anything Lake Macquarie has experienced before," she said.

"This revived venue provides a space for performance artists to be inspired and connect with their audience attracting visitors from across the region to our City to experience something memorable."

Catherine Cusack, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, thanked Lake Macquarie City Council for making a positive contribution to the social and cultural fabric of the local region.

"This upgraded theatre ensures that we will continue to attract and host productions for many years to come - introducing younger generations, and welcoming visitors, to the magic of theatre," Ms Cusack said.

"This is exactly the kind of project the Stronger Country Communities Fund is designed to deliver, projects, upgrades and amenities that make a big difference to everyday life."

Rathmines Theatre small group tours

Where: Rathmines Theatre, Stilling Street, Rathmines

When: Saturday, August 8 from 10am

Lake Macquarie City Council will be offering small group tours of the theatre and heritage centre. Bookings are essential to ensure we comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Bookings can be made at eventbrite.com.au or by calling (02) 4921 0556.