History

History of QPAC

The south bank of the Brisbane River was a gathering place long before the building of QPAC

Early days

Traditionally home to the Jagera and Turrbal people, the areas surrounding the southern bank of Brisbane River were originally known as 'Kurilpa' (place of rats). Upon settlement, the area became home to the infamous Moreton Bay Penal colony then to free settlers and squatters. South Bank's wharves were the busiest in Brisbane, bringing an ever changing and ethnically diverse population to the area. By the mid 1800's, South Bank was Brisbane's hub of culture and trading activity.

The theatre tradition

The South Bank has been home to many of the Brisbane’s theatres. The city’s first entertainment space, Croft’s Amphitheatre, opened in 1847 in Russell Street, near the site of today’s Playhouse.

The best known theatre to be built in South Brisbane was the Cremorne, which opened in 1911 and occupied part of the site of today’s Queensland Art Gallery on the corner of Melbourne Street and Stanley Quay. It was initially an open air theatre named the Cremorne Gardens, owned by John Neil McCallum, the father of noted Australian actor, John McCallum.

The Cremorne enjoyed its heyday from the 1920s onwards, presenting such legendary Australian performers as Roy Rene, Will Mahoney, George Wallace, Evie Hayes and the Cremorne Ballet Girls. The Cremorne continued to host the most popular vaudeville stars of the day, until it was destroyed by fire in 1954.

A cultural precinct

In the late 1960s the concept of a cultural precinct, combining art gallery, museum, concert hall and theatre was first introduced. However it wasn't until 1974, with the impending loss of Her Majesty's Theatre, that the Queensland Government set the wheels in motion for what is now the Cultural Precinct, South Bank.

Brisbane architect Robin Gibson was commissioned for the ambitious project that would bring together a performing arts centre, art gallery, museum and library.

Preliminary work began in 1976 and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent on 20 April 1985. Stage V of the Cultural Precinct project was the addition of QPAC's state-of-the-art 850 seat Playhouse at the southern end of the building which opened in September 1998 and completed Robin Gibson's original plan.

QPAC today

Since opening, QPAC has welcomed more than 20 million visitors to performances, free events, workshops and outdoor performances. More than 26,000 performances have taken place in one of the Centre's four venues, many featuring some of the world's most significant artists and major presentations.

QPAC regularly welcomes visiting performing arts companies from around the country including The Australian Ballet, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Opera Australia, Bell Shakespeare, Bangarra Dance Theatre and more.

QPAC is also the performance home to four of Queensland's leading companies – Queensland Theatre, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Ballet and Opera Queensland.

 

QPAC 30th Birthday 

In 2015 we celebrated three decades of storytelling at QPAC, and on the 20 April, invited Queensland to join us in celebrating. 


QPAC NOW