The popular World Bar nightclub in Kings Cross will reopen as a performing arts venue, under a plan to draw artists to the inner city that will be funded by the City of Sydney and the NSW government.
This new venue will be known as Fringe HQ and will include provision for four low-cost performance spaces across three levels of the former bar on Bayswater Road, as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.
City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore said the six-month pilot program would help meet the need for affordable artists’ spaces in the heart of the city and boost Kings Cross’ late-night economy.
“Finding affordable inner-city space for artists is a huge challenge,” Cr Moore said, as she launched the project on Monday.
“Supporting innovative new creative projects is one way we’re helping breathe new life into the Cross’ night-time economy and cultural offerings.”
Cr Moore hopes the public-private partnership will create a viable business model that can be replicated by governments, property owners and members of the arts sector to overhaul performance spaces across Sydney.
Sydney Fringe Festival chief executive Kerri Glasscock said the establishment of the venue was an opportunity to be “part of a new narrative for the Kings Cross area as a thriving theatre
precinct, amplifying and adding to the already wonderful established spaces in the area”.
“Having non-curated space that is open to any and all artists to perform in is absolutely imperative
to the health of the entire arts sector.”
The independent arts event features performances from more than 2000 artists at roughly 60 venues throughout September.
Ms Glasscock said the project had the capacity to “double the existing theatre activity in Sydney” during the trial period. “That’s more shows, more voices and more Sydney stories
reaching local audiences than ever before,” she said.
Fringe HQ will add to a growing theatre precinct in Kings Cross that includes Hayes Theatre, SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross Theatre at the Kings Cross Hotel, and the Old Fitz.
The performance space will also include a hospitality venue on the ground floor of the property, which is owned by real estate group Greencliff.
World Bar – known for its live music performances and cocktails served in teapots – closed last November after operating for 18 years.
In a statement at the time, owner Steve Ward said that the closure was “heartbreaking stuff”.
He said it was “undeniable” the city’s lockout laws “had a huge impact on us, as well as Sydney’s live music scene”.
The City of Sydney urged the state government to explore innovative public-private partnerships, with the aim of opening up more creative spaces for artists, in its submission to the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the city’s night-time economy.
In March, the council approved a $50,000 grant to help fund the $150,000 Fringe HQ project.