The Fairfield Amphitheatre which has long been a cultural icon of the Northcote electorate has had its long term future in our community secured, with the granting of heritage protection by the heritage council of Victoria.
Kat Theophanous has been working months with the Greek Community and Helen Madden, Director of Stork theatre to protect the amphitheater’s cultural significance as a symbol of the Hellenic traditions of open-air performance.
Today the heritage council determined the Amphitheatre precinct has state level cultural heritage significance and it will be placed on the Victorian heritage register.
The Amphitheatre’s genesis goes all the way back to the 1980swhen the members of the Greek Community in the Northern suburbs worked collaboratively with the then Northcote council to support its construction. Together they championed the development of this cultural asset and saw it constructed using original bluestone from the streets of Northcote.
The Fairfield Amphitheatre is the only purpose-built, professionally equipped outdoor amphitheater in Australia. “It’s a spectacular spot for creative and cultural performances,”Ms Theophanous said.
“We are blessed to have such an iconic community asset in our backyard with such a rich history to the area and our multicultural state. I am overjoyed that this history is not only being recognised and protected, but also offered an opportunity to grow.”
“The granting of heritage protection for the Fairfield Amphitheatre is a massive win, not only for the community but also for our local arts and theatre scene and the many theatre groups including Stork Theatre, who hold it dear to their hearts.”
Since its inception, the Amphitheatre has hosted an array of theatrical productions including the first professional bilingual theatre event series in Australia. This was unheard of at the time and showed the strong multicultural focus of Melbourne’s community.
“The Fairfield Amphitheatre represents the strong social connection between Melbourne’s Greek community, Victoria’s State and Local Governments and the Greek Government who all played crucial roles in the funding, concept, design and construction of this acoustic phenomenon”, said Ms Theophanous.
The immense community effort to seek stronger protection was made necessary as the amphitheatre structure held no local heritage protection by Yarra City Council and Council had signaled its intention to pull apart some of the Amphitheatre’s Pavilion. With the decision by the Heritage Council to grant heritage protection, it is now hoped that the Yarra City Council will step up to support the growth and revitalisation of our creative industries in the area while simultaneously balancing the needs of our park users.
“Yarra Council now has an opportunity to commit to the long term future of Fairfield Amphitheatre and ensure it thrives for generations to come,” Ms Theophanous said.