Perth Cultural Centre screen to be redeveloped with advertising component

The screen at the centre of Perth’s cultural centre will be redeveloped, moved to a new location, and include advertising under a plan put forward by the Perth Theatre Trust.

The organisation is currently calling for tenders to redevelop the screen, moving it to a new location in the cultural centre just metres from it’s current location, and for the first time the screen will generate revenue through advertising.

A new operator is sought for the screen, including installation of a new screen and curation of it’s content. Unlike the current set-up the revised plan will see commercial advertising content included on the giant screen.

The documents for the redevelopment call on the operator “to generate revenue through advertising in a manner which is consistent with the WA Government Advertising and Communications Policy and Guidelines and does not otherwise compromise the PCC’s intended customer experience or civic and cultural integrity.”

What percentage of the screen’s content will become advertising under the new plan is not known, but a spokesperson for the Perth Theatre Trust told OUTinPerth that while there would be less cultural content on the screen, there would always be a greater ratio of content to commercial advertising.

“The curated content – most of which is cultural in nature – will be greater than the advertising content.” a spokesperson said.

The screen was installed in 2011 by the Barnett Liberal government at a cost of $840,000 previously it provided promotion to arts organisations on an in-kind basis. Under the new plan the screen will be relocated to a new position just a few metres from it’s current location.

The Perth Theatre Trust says moving the screen will improve the overall usability of the cultural centre and enable the space to be used for more activities. It is anticipated that the cost of redeveloped the screen will not be a burden to taxpayers and the costs will be covered by the company who wins the tender.

“Moving the screen will enable much better use of the amphitheatre as it allows for the installation of temporary staging, such as a music shell.

“It also opens the space up visually, creating a vista from Beaufort to William Streets.” the spokesperson said.

The Perth Theatre Trust also confirmed that arts organisations would still be able to access in-kind support to promote activities occurring within the cultural centre.

The Blue Room, home of Perth’s independent theatre scene, is one of the organisations that benefits from the promotional ability of the screen. A spokesperson for the theatre said being able to access the screen as a promotional tool was extremely helpful to early career and independent artists who work with minuscule budgets.

“Under the current arrangements we’re able to get free promotion of our programs on the big screen and we’re often able to pass that on to the independent artists who present their work at the Blue Room too. It’s very important to us because we have such a limited advertising budget.”

“The tender calls for any proponents to collaborate with surrounding stakeholders to deliver PCC promotional material and I hope that means maintaining the access we currently enjoy, or maybe even more prominent promotion.” the spokesperson said.

“The screen content at the moment is great; it’s always visually interesting and well-curated for the time of the day or the week. The content makes an artistic contribution in its own right, so the screen has a cultural purpose and doesn’t feel like an imposition or an add-on. It would be good to think the new arrangement can retain that sympathy of purpose and curatorial vision.” said the Blue Room.

The Perth Theatre Trust said they were confident that the inclusion of advertising material and other curated content would not negatively impact on the cultural centre.

“Whilst the screen will host some advertising, the categories are restricted to ensure that the Perth Culture Centre is not negatively impacted.” the spokesperson said.

They highlight that by allowing advertising into the space additional revenue will be generated for the state government that can be reinvested into the arts.

“The new arrangements will be similar to those in Yagan Square where additional revenue will be generated for investment into the Perth Cultural Centre and to create improved content.” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for David Templeman, the Minister for Culture and the Arts, said the matter was one for the Perth Theatre Trust, and did not respond to questions of whether introducing digital advertising into the space cheapened the cultural centre.

It’s not the first time the Perth Theatre Trust’s plans for the cultural centre have come into question. The McGowan government copped a backlash when the organisation called for proposal for new tenants for the popular PICAbar.

The proposal saw the current operators of the bar scrambling to keep their business, worried that they would be outbid for their location. The government has since arranged a new  5-year lease, with the option for an extension for the business.

The number of visitors to the cultural centre is expected to increase dramatically in 2020 with the opening of the refurbished Western Australian Museum.

Graeme Watson, Image from the tender documents 

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