Inclusive festival to breathe new life into shuttered Chinatown cinema

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To do this, she invited artists from different subcultures in Sydney to play lead roles. Western Sydney’s Afro-Australian rap collective BBGB will host their own party; another will be a Heaps Gay LGBTQ party. Young, up-and-coming artists have been invited to host parties with their friends, while more established artists like Broods, Alex Lahey and Nai Palm are also locked in.

“There are so many wonderful grassroots communities and sub-cultures in Sydney, that’s what makes it great. It’s about giving a platform to all of these wonderful independent producers and artists that we have in the city, who have their own community,” Dopper said.

She wants it to be a “melting pot of diversity” in terms of both the art forms and the people who walk through the door. Many events will be free and no ticket will exceed $30, to make it as accessible as possible. There is also an allowance for people who do not earn a salary.

The grants enabled Dopper to book and pay at least 200 performers over the 35 days. The nightlife veteran wants people to ‘support local restaurants, have amazing wine, then just see some cool new art you might not have experienced before in different parts of Sydney, or weird stuff’ .

“Since lockdowns and COVID, there have been 180 sites [that have closed]; the narrative was always Sydney’s death,” she said. “Obviously the weather is making it difficult, but we definitely feel a lot more optimistic about the arts in Sydney. The offers are there – it’s slowly getting people to buy tickets and come back.

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Development approval for the site allows it to open until 2 a.m. and Dopper believes the project will be a case study for government and stakeholders to see what is possible in the Haymarket area, which has been in decline for several years.

“It will help us work together to create something new that could really change the landscape of Chinatown,” she said.

The state’s 24-hour economy commissioner Michael Rodrigues said the initiative was an example of “great business collaboration” that would help bring people back to the Dixon Mall and a space that’s been idle for 15 year.

Pleasures Playhouse will be held from September 22 to October 31. Tickets for the events will go on sale from 10 a.m. on September 5.

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