Exploding the Box: The Future of Performing Arts Centre Design

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In the past few decades, arts centre design has failed to respond to audience diversity, cultural difference, and performance multiplicity. We see the same old stuff and audience numbers continue to decline. Is it due to a lack of flexibility in performance spaces? The drabness of dark, black spaces? Do these places turn their back on their communities?

The 2024 Stephen Ashton Address, to be held at the recently completed Geelong Arts Centre, will bring together leading arts and cultural curators to explore contemporary trends in theatre and performance art and how architecture and design can encourage diverse audience engagement.

About the Stephen Ashton Address
The Stephen Ashton Address is an annual public lecture in memory of the late Stephen Ashton, one of ARM Architecture's founding directors who passed away in 2016.

The Stephen Ashton Address is supported by ARM Architecture and Dr Rosemary Nixon AM.

In Collaboration With:

Hillary Glow: Dr Hilary Glow is a Professor in Arts and Cultural Management in the Department of Management, Deakin Business School. She is an author of books, book chapters and journal articles with a primary focus on research into arts audiences. Her research is also in the areas of arts and cultural impact, audience engagement and diversification, evaluation processes for arts/cultural organisations, and the impact of arts programs on people’s views of cultural diversity.

Sam Strong: Sam Strong is one of Australia’s most successful creative leaders, having held executive positions at Creative Victoria, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Fringe and many other arts organisations. An award-winning theatre director, Sam has directed productions for all Australian state theatre companies, Belvoir, Griffin and the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Festivals. He has also long championed new Australian works.

Joseph O'Farrell: Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) is a multi-art performer, producer, curator, musician and lecturer making work between Melbourne and London. JOF creates large-scale installation/theatre works with, and for, community that celebrates our diversity and brings people together in hilarious and unlikely situations.

Moderated by Ian McDougall: ARM Co-Founder and RAIA Gold Medal-winning architect. Ian was ARM's director-in-charge for the design of the new Geelong Arts Centre Stage 3.

Photo: Peter Foster.

Important Details

Time & Date

Sunday 18 February

Free, bookings required

Book Now


Fully wheelchair accessible


50 Little Malop St, Geelong VIC 3220

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