Melbourne’s Palais Reopens

Melbourne’s Live Nation-managed  reopened to the public May 18 after a six-month A$26.9 million ($20.1 million) worth of refurbishments. 

The first event was the opening night of the St. Kilda Film Festival, a reflection of the close relationship the 89-year-old venue in the bayside suburb and creative hub of St. Kilda has with the local community.

The façade was repainted to its original 1927 colour with a new state-of-the-art light system programmable to any colour or pattern inside and out. The funding, including A$13.4 million ($10 million) from the Victorian state government, A$7.5 million ($5.6 million) from the City of Port Phillip council and A$3.5 million ($2.6 million) attributed to good governance by the venue, saw upgrades to its electrical, fire protection, plumbing and hydraulic systems.

Palais Theatre
– Palais Theatre
Melbourne, Australia

Live Nation, which this year won the bid for a 30-year lease with promises of more renovations, began a A$6 million ($4.4 million) internal rejuvenation in March that will continue until September between events.

This includes restoration of the foyer and historic ceiling domes in the auditorium, a glass enclosed balcony and improved facilities for the mobility impaired At a media call two days before the reopening, LN Australia and New Zealand president Michael Coppel revealed he’d attended his first ever concert there as a 14-year-old to see The Rolling Stones.

Years later as a promoter, he had to rush to place a bucket on .’s piano when the roof began leaking after a thunderstorm.

“We are intent on reinstating this iconic venue to its former glories, to better adapt it to the changing requirements of live performances, and to operate it for the benefit of all stakeholders, hirers, staff and patrons,” Coppel said. “We look forward with great enthusiasm to successfully navigating the opportunities that lie ahead.”

With a capacity of 2,896 and the largest sit-down theatre in Australia, the Palais has long been a vibrant entertainment venue. It’s hosted shows by rock acts and ballet companies, was used in INXS music videos and at premieres of cult Australian movies.

But in recent years it became run-down as a dispute ignited over who should fund the restoration. In the midst of a fierce community backlash against delays, St. Kilda resident and rock singer Tex Perkins stood as an independent candidate in the state’s 2014 elections to focus on the issue.