Secret arts spaces
Fine art and performance aren't always in plain sight.
IT MIGHT SEEM that concealing your theatres and galleries in out-of-the-way places would be bad for business. But it turns out hiding your light under a bushel can be very good for arts and showbusiness, not to mention cultural cachet. Here are some harder-to-find theatres and galleries dotted inconspicuously around the city.
This theatre and gallery space is probably the least secretive on the list, given it stages some of the city’s most lauded and popular work (their production last year of Angels in America was a hit). But it does fulfil that classic Melbourne vibe by disguising itself as a toilet and burying itself several floors underground. It’s also ludicrously impressive once you’re down there. àfortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne 3000. 03 9662 9966. www.fortyfivedownstairs.com.
Chapel off Chapel might be the go-to venue in Prahran for indie theatre, but there’s another cop on the beat now, and it’s getting some love from the smaller cabaret shows that can’t fit into the Butterfly Club. Created by Miao Mangmang and Craig Bryant, the MC Showroom has a focus on musical theatre, but with a cool black box space, and a location just off Chapel Street, it’s a venue on the rise. ÀMC Showroom, 1/48 Clifton St, Prahran 3181. 0422 514 636. www.themcshowroom.com.
Blindside shouldn’t be a secret at all given its vital role as an artist-run gallery space in the heart of the city. The Nicholas Building has long been a haven for artists, packed as it is with boutique retail spaces, jewellers and galleries. But Blindside, with its serious commitment to
emerging and cutting-edge artists, is one of the truly necessary arts spaces in the city. àblindside, Lvl 7, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne 3000. 03 9650 0093. www.blindside.org.au.
Neon Parc Brunswick
Neon Parc has its better known cousin in the CBD, but the Brunswick iteration is just as important and is way harder to find. It’s also far bigger, which enabled them to exhibit some large-scale Dale Frank works on opening. It is currently exhibiting some fantastic Taree Mackenzie works. àneon Parc, 15 Tinning St, Brunswick 3055. 0401 024 329. neonparc.com.au.
Buxton isn’t so much secret as brand-spanking new, and given its location directly opposite MTC’S Southbank Theatre, it won’t take long before it becomes a fixture of the local art scene. With its swanky white spaces and generously proportioned rooms, it’s a terrific showcase for some seriously important contemporary art. It currently displays works by Juan Davila, Ricky Swallow and Patricia Piccinini, which should give an indication of their clout. àbuxton Contemporary, Cnr Dodds St & Southbank Blvd, Southbank 3006. 03 9035 9339. buxtoncontemporary.com.
Given that the Stables is located in the Meat Market complex, itself a bit of a hidden performance gem in Melbourne’s North, it’s surprising that so few of Melbourne’s arts lovers know about it. It’s effortlessly cool, with concrete floors and high ceilings. It’s wonderfully flexible, an art gallery and a performance venue. It’s also bloody hard to find and therefore has Melbourne written all over it. It’s been a space for hire for the last couple of years, notably for Poppy Seed festival, and has hosted visual arts exhibitions like Stephen Baker’s Moonshine. àmeat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne 3051. 03 9329 9966. www.meatmarket.org.au.
It fulfils that classic Melbourne vibe by disguising itself as a toilet and burying itself several floors underground