Hundreds brave winter rain in bid to save the Regent [with video]

Early morning rain and cold did not stop more than 300 protesters gathering at Reddacliffe Place in the city yesterday morning to call for rescue of the historic Regent Theatre.

Regent building owner Industry Superannuation Property Trust plans to keep the Regent’s historical components but turn the rest of the building into a 38-storey office block.

The grand foyer and marble staircase will be saved, but the four cinemas will be demolished to build a 300-seat cinema and two 60-seat theatrettes.

Stop the Regent Being Knocked Down organiser Jason Sharland said the Regent Theatre’s cultural heritage should not be lost to another CBD office block.

He said Queensland Premier and Arts Minister Anna Bligh was forgetting her promises to keep the arts safe in her support for this demolition.

“It will destroy the cultural heritage of the Regent,” he said.

Ms Bligh has said the cinema will be open to the public on weekends and public holidays. On weekdays it will be used for seminars and speech presentations.

Brett Debritz’s Save the Regent group, with more than 8000 members, said he agreed wholeheartedly with the organisers of the protest.

Brisbane’s grand Regent Theatre

“Despite spin from the developers and, sadly, the Premier and Arts Minister, the small so-called ‘boutique cinemas’ included in the office-tower plans are no replacement for the Showcase, which contains material from and evokes memories of the 80-year-old original Regent auditorium,” he said.

“The government-endorsed and council-approved plan for the Regent does not protect the iconic Showcase cinema, the ornate bar area or the original Elizabeth Street facade of Brisbane’s last remaining Hollywood-style picture palace.”

Mr Debritz hopes the protest will inspire developers to go back to the drawing board.

Many protesters say the Regent should be returned to its 1920’s “picture palace” glory.

Queensland convenvor of the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society Steve Maggs said although he was not optimistic about the Regent being saved, he was hopeful.

“It would be great if the Regent could be restored, like the Regent in Melbourne was, and it’s already survived one attempt to be demolished,” Mr Maggs said.

Video: reporter Emma McBryde, camera John Corlett. Producers Emma McBryde and John Corlett.

2 Responses to “Hundreds brave winter rain in bid to save the Regent [with video]”
  1. JayB says:

    This rally is not the end of our fight to save The Regent.
    Since Saturday, the Save The Regent Cinemas facebook group alone has exploded in numbers to over 9000 members- pretty good indication of public opinion on this matter I feel.
    Petitions can still be signed at live music venues in Fortitude Valley including The Globe & Troubadour. Further action is being planned, so should you support this cause, please join this group so we can contact you with details of what YOU can do…. In the meantime, keep those letters & phone calls to government coming- the more support we have, the stronger we are in this fight.
    The Brisbane Regent has survived such a threat before. The Melbourne Regent still thrives. This IS possible.

  2. Daniel Endicott says:

    This is very simple. Either Anna Bligh and Stirling Hinchliffe immediately stop the development and restore the theatre, or their political careers are immediately over as they fall into absolute public disgrace.

    There should be an independent inquiry on the heritage commission hearing for The Regent, as this building is almost entirely “Regent” heritage! It must be immediately heritage-listed as a public entertainment venue (for its continued long standing use as a cinema and theatre) and any remains of the original building saved (including the outer building shell facing Elizabeth Street and Queen Street, its facades, historic signage, moulded ornate ceiling features, lighting features, skirting boards and the interior of lounge bar and showcase theatre) – if not restored back to original 2000 odd-seated single theatre format, making it viable once more for live music concerts, theatre productions, comedy, opera whilst retaining its role as our premier red carpet picture palace.

    The Brisbane public demand a government / private partnership to secure in perpuity, restore and operate The Regent as the heart and heritage of Brisbane for future generations – and it needs to start now.

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