Renee Cluff

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Build it and they will come: CPAC’s impact on theatre attendance

Cairns Regional Council has revealed theatre attendance in the city has skyrocketed since the Cairns Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) opened.

Excluding the gala opening night, there have been almost 57,000 tickets sold, generating sales of $2.52 million in CPAC’s first six months of operation.

That equates to three times as much as the revenue taken in a six month period at the previous Cairns Civic Theatre.

There’s also been an 89% increase in attendance.

Mayor Bob Manning said the numbers reinforce the community's need for the $71 million state-of-the-art facility.

“There is no question that our city needed this new facility and the attendance figures show quite clearly that there is an appetite for live theatre in our region,” Cr Manning said.

"We knew it would be popular but even we have been surprised by how much and there have only been 24 days where the facility hasn't been used.

"The old Cairns Civic Centre served the community well but it could no longer compete with changes in technology, bigger shows, more complex sets and what is today the largest regional population in Northern Australia."

However the Council remains out of pocket with CPAC notching up a net operating loss of $1,240,000 for the period, three thousand dollars more than what was budgeted for.

Cr Manning told Tropic it would have been under budget but two free community events, including the opening gala in December and the open day in June, hadn't been included in the 2018/19 books.

The figures have been released as a question mark remains over whether CPAC can continue operating.

Cairns Regional Council is involved in a standoff with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service over fire safety requirements for the building, which require Council to replace sections of cladding among other things.

The matter is being investigated by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

“The QBCC has commenced a formal investigation into the activities of the building’s certifier and other key parties involved in the development, design and construction of the Cairns Performing Arts Centre,” a spokesman said.

Cr Manning maintains that the advice to Council is the $1.5 million works aren’t necessary and he's confident the Queensland Development Tribunal will rule in its favour.