Secret arts spa­ces

Fine art and per­for­mance aren't al­ways in plain sight.

Time Out (Melbourne) - - SCAVENGER HUNT - By Tim Byrne

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.

forty­five­down­stairs

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.

MC Show­room

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

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 Con­tem­po­rary

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.

The Sta­bles

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

MC Show­room

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