Use it before it’s gone:
Poor attendance at big events could spell the end for Paragon Theatre
PLEASE BE SEATED: The Paragon Theatre has suffered from low patronage in its first two major events. If patronage doesn’t increase, owners Merissa and Nigel Craft may have to close the historic venue’s doors.
GET IN quick or it will be gone forever.
That is the message locals have to understand about the Paragon Theatre, as another major event breezed through town with very little attendance.
About 50 people showed up for the Festival of Small Halls last Thursday, far from the mark of 200 organisers were hoping for.
The Paragon Theatre reopened on July 25 to kick the Childers Festival off in style, with this the second major performance at the venue since.
But similar to the first Travelling Film Festival to stop in Childers on that night, the Festival of Small Halls garnered very little support.
Owner Merissa Craft struggled to find answers.
“I don’t know what else we possibly could’ve done,” Mrs Craft said.
“We offered buses and everything but nobody took advantage of it.”
Merissa and husband Nigel poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into refurbishing the venue so it could reopen and were buoyed by waves of local support.
Some of the shine seems to have waned in the time
Paragon Theatre owner Merissa Craft It’s really worrying. Last time it was film and this time it was live music and both times we’ve struggled for numbers.
since, though that could be attributed to the low number of events the Paragon has hosted.
Thursday night’s performance was part of the Crush Festival so benefited from an enormous amount of advertising, with mentions in local media and on the official website.
The fact the Festival of Small Halls was associated with the Woodford Folk Festival saw a lot more advertising pour into the event, with at least 4000 recipients on that mailing list.
“It’s really worrying,” she said.
“Last time it was film and this time it was live music and both times we’ve struggled for numbers.
“You can stay really positive at the start but it gets hard.”
Mrs Craft said she had a plan to turn their fortunes around, with the 7 Legends Tribute Show to be held on November 15.
The concert will feature the works of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly, among others.
She said she is working to a 12-month plan and if the situation doesn’t improve by July next year she may reluctantly have to pull the plug.
It is something Mrs Craft does not want to do but if the finances don’t stack up she will be left with little to no other choice.
SUPPORT WANING: The Paragon Theatre, pictured during its redevelopment, needs more support to keep its doors open.