History

10 Years Young: Supporting the Arts

The Old 505 Theatre is an artist run performance space focussing on quality performance and community engagement & development. At the heart of what we do is support for original artists.

How it all began

The 505s had their birth in Sydney’s inner-city where it operated an 'underground' performance space from 2004–2009. In this time we offered a platform for contemporary music and theatre artists to present original works to new and dedicated audiences. We presented not only over 350 local acts, but also played host to some of the best internationally renowned artists. We quickly became the go to stop-off for artists on arena tours wanting to connect with local artists and audiences while in town.

Established by Kerri Glasscock and Cameron Undy, 505 was developed as an artist run performance/workshop space for Sydney based musicians and theatrical performers. It was created as a meeting place for artists from two genres (music and theatre) to see each other’s work and initiate collaborations.

After five increasingly successful years of performances and audience development, 505 moved out from the shadows and initiated an exciting new venture. Opening in early 2010, Venue 505 has come to be known as Sydney’s only 100% performance-focused, artist run live music venue, and a critical part of Sydney’s music landscape. It is a space from which to support the local community of inner-city artists, musicians, performers, and audiences.

With the music program finding a new home on Cleveland Street at the beginning of 2011, 505 launched a new theatre space – The Old 505 Theatre – in the original venue. For five years it has continued to offer independent theatre practitioners a space to develop and present new work, focusing on new Australian and devised works.

Continuing the journey, in September 2015 The Old 505 Theatre moved to a new space in Eliza Street Newtown. More than doubling its capacity, this new theatre increases 505’s ability to support independent artists and theatre companies.

The new theatre will offer a permanent home to Sydney's independent theatre makers, allowing us to extend our subscriber season and build new audiences. The new theatre will also provide us the opportunity to test out new ways of working, a new model for the future. A space where artists can have the freedom to create the work they want, in the way they want, while also trying out new models of operation to help build a more sustainable future for the Independent sector.

More than just venues

Both venues now play a vital role in the cultural landscape of Sydney, presenting over 350 performances and productions every year to thousands of audience members. When the doors first opened in 2004 we couldn’t imagine that we were about to become part of the Sydney’s incredible Independent arts community.

This community is warm, varied, spectacular, strange, exceptional, inviting and, above all else, new!

It is sometimes disheartening that this community can often be hidden, flying beneath the wider cultural radar, and not included in main stage festival programs and mainstream venues in this city.

Within the independent artist community there are many different organisations that speak for numerous artistic forms and groups. It is these artists that truly, and presently, represent the breadth of Sydney’s art scene.

More than just landmarks in their own right, Venue 505 and The Old 505 Theatre have helped shape the arts and entertainment environment itself. We have been involved in amending Council laws and advised State Government on the needs of local artists and Sydney's creative community and continues to be part of the ongoing discussion to make Sydney’s Independent arts sectors vibrant, viable and sustainable. The City of Sydney has encouraged the development of creative precincts within the city, and 505 sees itself as a vital central hub within the creative villages of Surry Hills and Newtown.

A theatre of and for the community

Our audience base, comprised of artists, local arts supporters and travellers, has developed into one of the most dedicated, respectful and committed in Australia.

The Old 505 Theatre offers artists and actors a place to see colleagues perform and, having built a solid reputation for our high caliber program, it offers local audiences a quality theatre experience.

This underpins our ability to nurture a number of not-for-profits, artist-run associations, and independent performers, by giving them a refreshing home where performance and creation of new work takes precedence.

Importantly, it is a space from which these organisations and artists can take themselves to the next level by publicising and promoting their work to the wider community, and developing their artists’ voice in a dedicated cultural facility.

Our team is committed to offering a performance-focused theatre that is artist orientated. A testament to the success of this model is that we have proven that an artist run space can be managed in a commercially viable and responsible manner.

Our mix of quality artistic programming and sound management has seen The Old 505 Theatre become one of Sydney's most respected and popular performance spaces, gain support from various levels of government and become a leading promoter of new Australian content.

The people behind 505

Co-founding 505 in 2004, Kerri Glasscock and Cameron Undy continue as directors over a decade later. Together, they have grown the organisation from a one night a week underground venue into two full-time professional performance spaces now presenting six nights a week of local, interstate and international acts, as well as some of Australia’s most cutting edge, independent theatre. Across the two venues, 505 now presents over 320 productions and events every year.

Kerri Glasscock

Beyond the walls of 505 Kerri Glasscock has worked in various roles in the Sydney arts scene for the past 15 years. She has worked as an actor in film/television and theatre since 1997. Appearing in numerous works as varied as Capricornia in 2005 (Company B) to Home and Away in 1998. Over the past five years she has worked with the Old 505 Theatre Co and appeared in critically acclaimed works Seeing Unseen, The Twelfth Dawn and Ride.

Her commitment to the arts sector increased on a grass roots level when she started working in arts administration in her early 20s as:

  • Arts Administrator: Newtown Entertainment Precinct Association (2004-2006)
  • The Seymour Centre (2004-2007)
  • Manager: The Sound Lounge (2005-2007)
  • General Manager: The Jazzgrove Association (2007-2012)
  • Festival Director: Jazzgroove Summer Festival (2009-2012)

Most recently, Kerri was appointed a three year tenure as the Festival Director of the Sydney Fringe Festival from 2013.

Kerri was included in the Sydney Morning Herald's Sydney Magazine annual 100 Most Influential and Inspiring People List of 2011. A vocal advocate for the independent sector she also sits on a number of boards and committees including: City Recital Hall Board of Directors (2015), Joint Live Music Task Force Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils (2014) and Lord Mayor of Sydney's Live Music and Performance Task Force (2013).

Cameron Undy

Cameron carved out a formidable career as a bassist in the 90s in Australia playing with 'all' the luminaries and prodigies of the day from Mike Nock to James Morrison. He spent the early part of the 2000s travelling and performing throughout Europe with the 'Nu Jazz' wave of dance floor artists, returning to co-found 505 in 2004. His performance and musical programming continues to draw on diverse musical experiences in jazz, rock, funk, afro-beat, dance and world music.)

Cameron was included in the Sydney Morning Herald's ‘Sydney Magazine’ Annual 100 Most Influential and Inspiring People List of 2011.

Gareth Boylan

Joining the team in 2011 Gareth Boylan took the role of Associate Artistic Director at the Old 505 Theatre. Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts’ theatre directing course in 2000, Gareth has directed: Breaker Morant (Seymour Centre); As You Like It (Platform 12); Seeing Unseen, The Time Machine, Ride, Shakespeare’s Will, A Woman Alone, The Bear and The Proposal (Old 505 Theatre); The Frail Man and Between the Seabed and the Sky (Darlinghurst Theatre); Scapin, The Venetian Twins, Competitive Tenderness, F’lack o’ Felucca, The Miser and Fen (Darlo Drama); and Monolads (Melbourne Fringe). Devising / performing credits include The Twelfth Dawn (Old 505 Theatre).

Gareth has been a judging panel member for the 2014 NT Literary Awards (Drama), an Australian Script Centre script assessor and has taught performance studies, acting technique and theatre history at the VCA Winter School, Shopfront Theatre for Young People, Macquarie University, Darlo Drama, Wollongong University and privately since 2000.