The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre is one of western Sydney’s most praised and popular creative hubs – and plans are afoot to expand its offering.
Penrith City Council has partnered with The Joan to engage the local community and arts and culture enthusiasts to identify new ways the venue can attract patrons and broaden its program.
Initial market research was conducted through an online survey in late 2020. Council received an overwhelming response, with many pockets of the community providing feedback which enabled a broader review of The Joan’s greatest attributes and opportunities. This was followed up with four community focus group sessions held in February this year.
Penrith City Council’s General Manager, Warwick Winn, said the collaborative market research results highlight opportunities for improvement and lay the foundation for exciting things to come at The Joan, including a new café.
“Hearing from our community and gathering feedback from residents and those in surrounding LGAs has been a fantastic exercise, giving Council valuable insight to how the amenity at The Joan can be enhanced in the coming years,” Mr Winn said.
“Positive feedback revealed the majority of visitors have enjoyed their experience at The Joan and are interested in more diverse entertainment options.
“Another message received loud and clear was the need for a place where patrons can meet on site prior to shows and then relax and unpack their experience afterwards – that’s why Council is proud to announce we will be bringing a café to The Joan.”
Other common themes emerged from the market research, such as the need for internal upgrades and activating the outdoor area near The Joan.
Hania Radvan, CEO of Penrith Performing & Visual Arts (PP&VA), said the community’s feedback has been “reassuring” and as a result The Joan is excited to create a more holistic experience for patrons.
“We did learn that gaps we had identified in our programming were keenly desired – and they are what we are working on for when we are able to reopen – particularly to increase comedy and contemporary music programming,” Ms Radvan said.
“We learned that people really value staying and supporting local, and appreciate having a place to gather and share. That is important to us too, and a big part of what we do, so we are looking to add in new ways of promoting and extending that work,” she said.
The Joan opened in 1990 and was celebrated with a performance from Dame Joan Sutherland, who was accompanied by Maestro Richard Bonynge.