Fo­rum Mel­bourne

You won’t be­lieve what was swept un­der the car­pet

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE - RJ

THE FO­RUM THE­ATRE (on Flin­ders Street, op­po­site ACMI) is an ex­trav­a­gant, ec­cen­tric slice of Mel­bourne’s his­tory. Most lo­cals have fond mem­o­ries of danc­ing to their favourite bands un­der the twin­kling lights of the deep blue sky­ceil­ing, sur­rounded by Greco-ro­man stat­ues. It seems al­most in­con­ceiv­able that the venue could be­come even more beau­ti­ful – but that’s ex­actly what has hap­pened. Last year, the fam­ily-owned Mar­riner Group (who also own the Re­gent, Princess and Com­edy the­atres) closed the Fo­rum for a ma­jor over­haul. Given that the venue was built in 1929, many of these up­grades were nec­es­sary to bring the venue up to the needs of a mod­ern mu­sic venue and events space (in­clud­ing elec­tri­cal wiring, light­ing, bath­rooms and air-con­di­tion­ing) – but other changes were part of a bid to re­store the Fo­rum back to its orig­i­nal glory. Dur­ing the whole process, Ja­son Mar­riner, the com­pany’s CEO, and his sis­ter Kay­ley, the gen­eral man­ager, were mind­ful of main­tain­ing the venue’s orig­i­nal at­mos­phere. “It’s had a com­plete over­haul, from the base­ment to the au­di­to­rium… [but] when you’re do­ing a her­itage restora­tion, if you get it right, you re­ally want it to ap­pear that that’s the way it’s al­ways been,” says Ja­son.

So what’s changed, ex­actly? The Fo­rum’s fa­mous blue sky has been re­painted, for a start; but the most im­pres­sive dif­fer­ence is ob­vi­ous the minute you walk through the doors. The car­pet in the en­trance has been stripped back to re­veal colour­ful mo­saic tiles, which were part of the orig­i­nal Fo­rum, built as a grand cin­ema just as ‘talkie’ films were tak­ing off. In 1937 it was car­peted over, be­cause, as Mar­riner ex­plains, “in the early ’30s, car­pet was the luxe floor­ing.” Now, Mel­bur­ni­ans will be able to ad­mire the mo­saic for the first time since 1937.

The Fo­rum’s en­trance­way mo­saic tiles

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