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Louise Herron, Minister Don Harwin and Rosie Deacon outside the Sydney Opera House with colourful koala statues
Photograph: SOH/Daniel Boud

Sydney Opera House unveils a new purpose-built performance venue for hands-on experiences

The Centre for Creativity is the icon’s first new dedicated programming venue to open in more than 20 years

Written by
Alannah Maher

In one of the final projects to come out of the Sydney Opera House’s ‘Decade of Renewal’, funded by the NSW Government, Australia's most famous building is opening a new purpose-built venue under its soaring white sails. A former office space has been converted into a multi-functional public venue with windows that look out over Sydney Harbour. 

The Centre for Creativity will significantly increase the breadth of year-round participatory performances, workshops and art installations on offer at the Opera House. This is part of the Opera House’s commitment to engage new audiences on-site, in schools, and in homes across Australia and the world.

The new venue will be christened with an inaugural program kicking off from January to March 2022, with art installations and participatory workshops and performances for all ages with a mix of free and paid activities. The space will launch with a free, immersive, tactile art installation called House Warming (Jan 4-16) from award-winning Sydney artist Rosie Deacon. It will fill the space with a forest-like environment made of colourful, recycled materials in Deacon’s Australiana stylings, and visitors of all ages are invited to explore, interact with, and add to the work.

Rosie Deacon on studioPhotograph: SOH/Daniel Boud

Designed by renowned architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, the intimate Center comprises a larger room that can host groups of 50-60 for workshops and 80-100 people for seated experiences when at full capacity, and a second room designed for small group work.

Elsewhere in the program, there’s a creative meditation workshop led by Dr Nadine Cameron and musician SnowBorne (Mar 6); a beginner’s Afro House dance workshop from Western Sydney-based hip-hop crew CanYouAfro? (Jan 29); and a First Nations Design Day involving making, drawing, and learning through yarning circles, and natural dyeing with foraged materials (Mar 19).

There will also be a series of Saturday afternoon Architecture Club workshops for those passionate about design, inspired by the unique genius of Opera House architect Jørn Utzon (Feb 26-Jun 25); and a free public choir called Big Heart Sing led by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs (Jan 31-Mar 28). For kids, there will be puppet shows in the school holidays, an immersive experience for babies, a creative learning program for students and teachers, and more.

What the Ocean said performancePhotograph: SOH/Prudence Upton

“The Centre for Creativity will be a place for everyone to set their creativity free. We will offer programming and experiences based in design, engineering, dance, singing, storytelling and drawing to appeal to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds – and, very importantly, they will reach people wherever they are,” said Opera House CEO Louise Herron.

Find out more about the Centre for Creativity here.

Ready for more culture? Check out the biggest theatre shows opening in Sydney this summer.

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