After six years on level 2 of Kings Cross Hotel, KXT is on the move.
In 2022 the award-winning bAKEHOUSE-run independent theatre will be moving to a bigger home. Creative Director of KXT and bAKEHOUSE Co-Artistic Director Suzanne Millar says: “We’ll continue to prioritise new writing and emerging artists; inclusive and representative companies and stories; and women led programs. But we’ve outgrown our little space in the Cross, and more room will allow us to extend our important Artist Support programs.”
In 2021 productions at KXT were nominated for 16 Sydney Theatre Awards in 9 categories across 5 productions, and led the way on the night winning seven awards for independent theatre across three productions. Key to the venue’s success is a broad program of Artist Support, with the team investing heavily in the next generation of arts leaders.
This includes the new writing programs Storytellers Festival, The Laboratory and Write Up; the Step Up platform providing bespoke mentoring programs for some of the city’s most exciting emerging artists; showcase seasons Popupstairs, The Lab Report and the Step Up festival; and venue takeovers by JackRabbit Theatre and Panimo Creatives.
Perhaps most telling is the number of young theatre makers who have gone on to sustainable careers having first worked at KXT. Says bAKEHOUSE co-producer Andrew McMartin: “We’re especially proud that our work with producers and financial subsidies mean that artists working at KXT are being paid.”
Key to the success has been the invaluable partnership with Solotel, and a close working relationship with KX Hotel management. Opened in a live music venue during the KX lockout laws, the two businesses have supported one another to increase trade and foot traffic in what for a long time was seen as a dying nightlife.
More recently KX Hotel has worked closely with KXT to be sure that the theatre was able to continue to operate during the extraordinary challenges of the last two years: and after reopening in 2021 shows KXT averaged 94% audience attendance rates, with a number of sold-out seasons. At the same time, as the lockout laws were lifted, the live music scene burst back into life.
Says Co-Artistic Director John Harrison: “The first 6 months of 2021 were wild! There were packed dance floors on the rooftop, the late-night club level came back to life, and KXT was running wait lists for most seasons.”
The trio agree that KXT shouldn’t work: an intimate theatre sandwiched between five levels of dance floors, night clubs and bars doesn’t make sense, but the hotel staff and theatre personnel have somehow made it happen.
Says Suzanne: “We’ve been thinking about moving for some time. It’s become increasingly clear that we need a bigger space to allow us to better deliver on all our artist support programs, and a new venue will mean that we can increase our investment in writer’s rooms and residencies, and open up space for rehearsal, reads and popup seasons.”
Working with their partners at Solotel and Kings Cross Hotel, the best solution for both businesses is for KXT to make this exciting move in 2022.
Andrew: “We’re working together to make this happen, and we’re appreciative of Solotel’s support and assistance”
bAKEHOUSE aims to see independent theatre makers thrive.
Suzanne: “We want to continue to provide a pipeline for career progression and a home for new work, and the only way we can do that is to grow.”
The move will be timed to allow for the hotel’s recovery from the impact of changing NSW Health regulations, and to ensure that the KXT2022 season of work continues uninterrupted. Further details will be available shortly. In the meantime, the company is excited to be building a new home to inspire artists and work, and to continue to build on the wonderful continuing legacy of KXT.